FA Cup: Salisbury FC 3-2 Bridgwater United

United travelled to the ‘RayMac’ stadium determined to eradicate memories of their 7-0 defeat at the tail end of season 2016-17, writes Bob Buckingham.

Like the visitors, Southern League Premier Salisbury have made a very promising start to the season, currently unbeaten and sitting in 6th in the early league standings.

‘The Whites’ made a bright start, retaining possession and knocking the ball around with confidence.

In the early minutes, a fortunate bounce allowed Gunson to break away down the left channel where his attempted cross was diverted for a corner by the fast-covering Ross Edwards.

The set piece delivery was top quality, and it was Aaron McCreadie who powered home to give his side an early lead.

The visitors responded immediately as George King smashed goalwards where Josh Gould, the former United custodian, was alert to the danger.

After 20 minutes, United were indebted to Viney as he dived to his right to push aside Gunson’s curling effort from just outside the box.

Salisbury continued to dominate possession, but without creating too much to bother a dogged the Robins defence, although the lively Gunson forced another save from Viney, and then, within minutes, fired over the bar from close range.

After these narrow escapes, United began to establish more of a foothold in midfield and so it was in the 40th minute, that a clever flick from George King found the galloping Edwards on his right who drove through to the edge of area to lay the ball off to the ever-lurking Jack Thorne to finish with aplomb!

Buoyed by the leveller, as the interval approached, United pushed forward again as King narrowly slice wide from inside the box.

Undoubtedly, United would have anticipated a fast start from the hosts. Within minutes of the restart the visitors were behind again as Fitchett fed in Gunson down the right and, despite being forced wide by the exposed Viney, he finished coolly from a tight angle.

Just minutes had passed when things worsened for Bridgy. As the ball was fired across the area, a defensive mistake allowed Fitchett to tap home from a few yards out.

With the Whites now on top, an excellent save from Viney saw him push the ball wide as an own goal looked certain.

Undaunted, United took the game to Salisbury and on 63 minutes after beating a couple of defenders, Thorne fired over the bar as the away side were starting to see plenty of the ball.

The increasing pressure told on 77 minutes as great work by Harry Horton and Jack Thorne in midfield found Adam Wright on the left edge of the area who curled his shot past the despairing Gould to set up a tense final 15 minutes.

Several half chances came United’s way, but the Whites defence stood firm and saw them through to the next round.

This was a strong and encouraging performance by United against a side who will likely be in the mix for promotion to Step 2, National League South as the season progresses.