A COLD and snowy night in Oxfordshire saw Salisbury FC go down by 3-1 at Didcot Town in an entertaining game of football between two sides who both have promotion aspirations.

Steve Claridge made just one change from Saturday’s win over Yate Town. Owen Howe replaced Kane O’Keefe up front meaning that new signing Cory Simpson had to settle for a place on the bench having signed from Larkhall Town earlier in the day.

The game was only three minutes old when the home side could have taken the lead.

Some good play down the right saw Sam Barder try his luck but his shot was inches wide of Tom Roberts’s goal.

On nine minutes, Salisbury had their first chance of the match, Tom Whelan testing home goalkeeper Leigh Bedwell from 20 yards.

Just a minute later the home side made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

Eddie Perrett was adjudged to have fouled George Jeacock in the area and the Didcot man stepped up to confidently dispatch his penalty into the back of the net.

The home side had started the brighter but it was Salisbury who were next to threaten.

Tom Whelan’s low cross saw Elliot Wheeler beat Bedwell to the ball but he could only put the chance high and wide.

Three minutes later, Salisbury had strong shouts for a penalty waved away by referee Edward Turner when Lewis Benson appeared to be held back in the box.

The away side could have pulled a goal back, but Stuart Green saw his cross just cut out with Benson in space.

A fine spell of passing from the home side led to them doubling their lead just before the half hour mark, Jeacock again the scorer with a well taken finish on his left foot.

On 32 minutes, Salisbury could have replied. A strong run from Whelan took him into the box but his cut back was put just past the post by the onrushing Stuart Green.

Two minutes later, the Whites found a route back into the game. A free-kick on the left was initially cleared before finding its way to Rhys Baggridge in space on the right.

He teed up Elliot Wheeler whose ball across the box gave Green the simplest of tap-ins from three yards.

The end of the half saw the away side press hard to find an equaliser and they were presented with a great opportunity to do so in time added on.

A ball through allowed Green to run into the box and he was upended by the onrushing keeper Bedwell.

The home side protested loudly, and many in the ground thought they had reason to, but after further consultation with his assistant referee the decision stood.

Tom Whelan stepped up but his well struck effort was superbly saved by Bedwell to send the home side into the break in a buoyant mood.

Salisbury started the second half with good energy and on 48 minutes the industrious Whelan made a good run down the right but his pull back was easily cleared by the defence.

It took a further 10 minutes before the Whites could fashion another chance. Stuart Green broke down the left and found Danny Young.

He took the ball into the box and despite the path to goal seeming to open up, he elected to find Benson in space but his effort was well blocked by the resolute home defence.

Two minutes later, Salisbury again had a strong shout for a penalty when another driving run by Whelan saw him bundled to the ground in the box but their shouts were waved away by the referee.

Didcot then gave themselves some breathing space as Felipe Barcelos increased the home side's lead to 3-1.

On 70 minutes, Didcot got their third goal of the evening. Salisbury lost the ball in midfield and a quick ball forward allowed Felipe Barcelos to run through and place his effort past Roberts and into the net.

Cory Simpson was introduced off the bench and almost immediately presented the home defence with problems.

His quick feet and good touch draw a foul from Didcot’s Lewis Hayden, although the resulting free-kick was struck against the wall with the Whites unable to capitalise on the follow up.

With 15 minutes, remaining Didcot were happy to sit back and let Salisbury have plenty of possession whilst keeping a tight shape.

The Whites were finding it hard to break down a resolute defence, and headed chances from Baggridge and Jake Wannell were unable to trouble Bedwell.

On 82 minutes a good run from Simpson resulted in a corner and Benson’s ball in was met by substitute Kane O’Keefe but his header was over the bar.

Three minutes later, the home side could have grabbed a fourth goal, but Baggridge’s fine last ditch tackle prevented a breakaway.

Salisbury immediately went up the other end and Simpson put in O’Keefe but his low shot was excellently saved by the impressive Bedwell. Despite plenty of possession and effort Salisbury were unable to create any more chances and their misery was compounded in time added on when O’Keefe was shown a red Card for a lunging tackle on the half way line.

Steve Claridge’s side will be left rueing a slow start which saw the home side two goals to the good after half an hour but will be pleased with efforts given in cold conditions against a very good Didcot side.

Neither side will have been particularly impressed with referee Turner’s performance, but there is little doubt that on the day Didcot just about deserved the three points.

Salisbury will look to get back to winning ways on Saturday (3pm) when they face another away game against a play-off chasing team in Swindon Supermarine.

A week on Saturday (3pm), they host struggling Slimbridge.