Salisbury City returned to the top tier of non-league football after a two-year absence as they beat 10-man Dover Athletic 3-2 in the Blue Square Bet South play-off final on Sunday.
Ricky Wellard’s 50th-minute goal appeared to settle the contest at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium before Ian Simpempa struck at the death to take the game to extra-time.
However, Darrell Clarke’s side retook the lead through Stuart Sinclair (98) and James White (111) added a third, with Billy Bricknell’s reply two minutes from time setting up a tense finale.
The first half was evenly contested by both teams with very little clear-cut chances being created.
However, the game opened up after the break as City broke the deadlock four minutes into the second half. Having won a free-kick, Wellard stepped up and sent his set-piece curling around the wall and beyond Whites goalkeeper Mitch Walker.
White came close to extending their lead as Walker was forced to tip his shot over the crossbar before Wellard saw his goalbound effort cleared away.
City gloveman Will Puddy was finally tested on 82 minutes as he pushed Ricky Modeste’s shot on the turn around the post, but the Kent outfit then suffered a blow when Daryl McMahon received his marching orders three minutes later following a second bookable offence.
Chris Kinnear’s men rallied, though, and drew level with two minutes of normal time remaining when Simpemba turned home a free-kick from Lloyd Harrington at the far post, meaning there would be another 30 minutes of football.
Midway through the first period of extra time Clarke’s charges retook the lead courtesy of a clever finish from Sinclair as he chipped Walker to net in the far corner.
They gave themselves some breathing space with nine minutes left on the clock as White finished smartly to make it 3-1, but Dover refused to give up and pulled one back on 118 minutes when Bricknell slid home to provide a nervy finish for Salisbury, who are back in the big time.
Posted: Sunday , May 12, 2013