SALFORD CITY moved nine points clear at the top of the Vanarama National League North after a gritty 1-0 win at Blyth Spartans.
Jack Redshaw, recently voted as Player of the Month for November, scored from the penalty spot in the first half to give The Ammies the lead.
A late flurry by the league’s top scorers demanded concentration from the Salford defence, but they withstood the test and held on for a seventh consecutive league win.
That determination didn’t go unnoticed either, and drew praise from joint-manager Bernard Morley:
“That shows what we are in terms of character,” said the 33-year-old.
“The desire to put your head where it hurts and goal line clearances, and I’ve got to be honest with you; as an 11, defensive unit, today we were outstanding to come here and keep a clean sheet.
“You can trust that he [Redshaw] is going to score his penalties, he doesn’t miss one-on-ones, and fair play to him coming off the back of his player of the month, he deserves that today, he’s worked so hard up there on his own.
“But collectively again, as a unit, we were brilliant.
“It’s massively important and you enjoy wins like this, the lads are absolutely buzzing, but it’s all about not getting complacent, keeping your feet planted, we’ll work hard in training this week and we’re back up here next week for an equally tough game at Darlington so it’s just important we get back to training and really apply ourselves.”
LIVING ON THE EDGE
While The Ammies now have a nine point lead at the top after Harrogate lost at FC United of Manchester, there were much finer margins on the pitch.
Captain Liam Hogan was fortunate to escape a second red card of the season after being booked midway through the first half, and a 50/50 collision with Dan Maguire early in the second could have seen Salford reduced to 10.
However referee Garreth Rhodes chose against booking Hogan for a second time, and the central defender says that it’s a consequence of style rather than anything malicious.
“Sometimes yeah, maybe I do play on the edge.
“I got the red card at Spennymoor but I’ll never duck out of a challenge or anything like that, there wasn’t any malice in the tackle.
“I’m a player that plays at a tempo, I’ve missed the ball and the lad’s touched it round me, but to be fair, with the crowd on the ref’s back, the ref ended up managing the game well.”
Despite the close call, Morley says that he trusted the Salford-born captain to be sensible.
“You’ve got to be able to trust your captain, your captain is your leader out there.
“We had to trust Liam that he’d be professional and only commit if he had to commit, last minute tackles, and he got through it.”
BEST DEFENCE IN THE LEAGUE
An tenth league clean sheet means Salford now have the best defence in the league, and Max Crocombe recorded an eighth on his return to league action, which he says he is pleased with:
“I don’t think many teams will come here and get a clean sheet, let alone a win.
“We know they were joint-highest scorers in the league so it’s really pleasing to come here and get that clean sheet.
“After the cup game last Saturday we needed a response from everyone, me included, and just from start to finish we were very solid, everyone just did their jobs today and there were some unbelievable blocks on the line not to mention Duds right on the line right at the end.”
Watch the post-match thoughts from Bernard Morley, Liam Hogan and Max Cromcombe on our YouTube channel.