ANTHONY JOHNSON issued an apology to fans after Salford City were knocked out of the Buildbase FA Trophy by Brackley Town.
Aaron Williams inspired The Saints, who are third in the National League North, to a 4-0 win with a hat-trick before Glenn Walker bagged a fourth in stoppage time.
It’s the heaviest defeat Salford have suffered since Johnson and Bernard Morley took over in January 2015, and the 35-year-old says he was ‘embarrassed’:
“We’ve been beat 4-0 by a team in our league that we’ve got to come back to in a couple of months…
“It’s a bit raw, and I feel slightly embarrassed; I don’t think we’ve ever been beat 4-0 since we’ve been here.
“I’m probably more disappointed for the supporters that have come down here.
“It’s taken three and a half hours to get here and they’ve been working all week to see a performance like that from the team, so I’d like to apologise on behalf of me, Bernard and the team for that performance, and I can only assure them that it won’t happen again.”
The Ammies started the game brightly and dominated possession in the opening exchanges.
Left-back Josh Askew tested Danny Lewis with a stinging shot from just inside the area which the goalkeeper could only parry before the hosts cleared their lines.
Mani Dieseruvwe, one of six changes, then had a less powerful effort saved before Williams opened the scoring in the 17th minute and doubled the lead in the 32nd.
Brackley’s top scorer completed his hat-trick in the second half before Walker’s fourth.
“I actually thought in the first half we played some decent football,” said Johnson.
“But the first three goals were absolute howlers, uncharacteristic from players that don’t tend to do that, then we’re chasing the game and they’ve got the fourth goal.
“There’s a lot of things you can put it down to but let’s not get away from the fact the six changes are all lads who are professional footballers, they’re grown men, they weren’t lads who were starting to come out of the Academy like young Zack [Woodcock] who came on in the second half.”
As well as a cameo appearance from Academy 92 midfielder Woodcock, 16, defender Danny Livesey came through 67 minutes before being substituted.
It’s the first taste of first team action for the 32-year-old since an ankle ligament injury forced him off late on at Chorley in August.
“Really pleased to get him back on the pitch,” said Johnson.
“I thought he didn’t do anything wrong, I thought he led the back three really well.
“We originally thought about getting him off at half time so to get him that much time on the pitch is a brilliant recovery for him, so one of probably the only bright spots from the game is getting Danny back into the team.”
The former Barrow defender added:
“I feel good, it’s nice to get nearly 70 minutes in.
“I’ll probably feel very, very stiff tomorrow but the ankle’s feeling good!”