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Salford City football Club

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Team Sheet

Cheltenham Town
20
Josh Griffiths
2
Sean Long
1 goals for Sean Long
3
Chris Hussey
4
Ben Tozer (c)
7
Conor Thomas
Yellow card for Conor Thomas
9
Sam Smith

Azaz 88'

10
Alfie May

Williams 83'

11
Matty Blair
17
Lewis Freestone
23
Callum Wright

Chapman 83'

26
Liam Sercombe
1 goals for Liam Sercombe Yellow card for Liam Sercombe
Salford City FC
1
Vaclav Hladky
3
Ibou Touray
4
Jason Lowe
5
Ash Eastham (c)
10
Ash Hunter
12
Di'Shon Bernard

James 46'

16
Jordan Turnbull
18
Oscar Threlkeld
19
James Wilson

Dieseruvwe 46'

24
Robbie Gotts

Thomas-Asante 46'

40
Ian Henderson
Substitutes
1
Scott Flinders
14
Andy Williams
18
Finn Azaz
24
Grant Horton
25
Tom Chamberlain
28
Ellis Chapman
29
Indiana Vassilev
Substitutes
31
William Evans
2
Tom James
15
Luke Burgess
20
Mani Dieseruvwe
33
Liam Loughlan
36
Dan Hawkins
37
Brandon Thomas-Asante
Managers
Manager - Michael Duff
Managers
Manager - Richie Wellens
Match Officals
Referee - Lee Swabey
Assistant Referee - Mark Derrien
Assistant Referee - Christopher Kidd
Fourth Official - Ollie Yates

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Match
Report

A very disappointing afternoon for the Ammies in Gloucestershire as two first-half goals consigned them to defeat against league leaders Cheltenham Town. A controversially disallowed Ian Henderson effort 20 minutes from time may have changed the course of the game had it stood, but the top scorer’s accomplished finish would be the only effort on target Salford could muster. Once again the Ammies had much more possession than their opponents, yet managed to do relatively with it as they reached the unwanted milestone of 4 games played without scoring.

There were a couple of changes made to the XI that started Tuesday’s draw with Colchester as Ian Henderson replaced Brandon Thomas-Asante and Ash Hunter came in for Paul Coutts.

The afternoon got off to a bad start for Richie Wellens and his side as Cheltenham went ahead inside 3 minutes. The Robins like to use long throws when they can and on this occasion Ben Tozer aimed his delivery from the right at the near post. There were plenty of black shirts knocking around, yet it was SEAN LONG who got up to meet the ball, glancing a header inside the post to put Town ahead.

Not great from a defensive point of view and the response wasn’t particularly intense either. The rest of the opening 10 minutes produced little else of note and the next suggestion of a threat came when Callum Wright’s high, pacey cross zipped through the Salford 6-yard box without anyone getting close to a touch.

Salford’s first bit of pressure came around the 15-minute mark, starting when Oscar Threlkeld swung a cross from a deep central position towards the left. Wright was concentrating on defensive duties this time and nodded the ball behind for a corner. Ash Hunter delivered from the left with Long getting there just before Jordan Turnbull to flick a header beyond the far post. Ibou Touray’s inswinger from the right was cleared as far as Robbie Gotts on the left-hand corner of the box, only for his shot to be blocked long before Town keeper Josh Griffiths could be troubled.

Not a bad spell for the Ammies and after Liam Sercombe was booked for a heavy challenge on Hunter, the Salford man took responsibility for the free kick. A long, lofted delivery from the right dropped to the far side of the box, where skipper Ash Eastham nodded back inside. Henderson was the intended target but the ball knocked behind by Tozer.

Salford were showing signs of imposing themselves on the game yet were almost caught out in the 21st minute. A forward ball dropped into the right-hand side of the area, with Eastham appearing to hesitate instead of getting in a clearance. Alfie May almost took advantage, nipping in to lob a very decent effort that dropped narrowly wide of the far post.

With two very decent defences on show, play became condensed between the penalty areas for a while. The Ammies were once again seeing plenty of the ball yet were largely restricted to passing from side to side – and sometimes backwards.

Ten minutes from half time the busy Secombe’s free-kick from the left was punched clear under pressure by Salford keeper Václav Hladký. Hardly a moment of high drama, yet it was the best either side had managed for a good quarter of an hour.

Six minutes before the interval Matty Blair made ground on the right before pulling a low ball back into the area. There were red shirts arriving but he managed to pick out a black one on the edge of the box, allowing Jason Lowe to get in a clearance.

There was little sign of another goal being scored but Cheltenham managed to nick one in the 41st minute. Sam Smith nudged a low pass out to the right, with Blair advancing before getting in a low, angled shot. Hladký got down to save at his near post yet couldn’t hold on as the ball rolled through the 6-yard box. Di’Shon Bernard looked favourite to get there first but facing his own goal and a yard or two out the Manchester United loanee was closed down by SERCOMBE who made sure he got enough contact to force the ball home from close range.

Those are always difficult situations for defenders, but Bernard cannot fail to be disappointed with the outcome and his afternoon would not last too much longer.

During the last minute of the half Hunter’s 30 yard left of centre free-kick dropped over the crossbar. At the other end Blair again found space on the right, drilling in a low cross that was cut out by Eastham as Smith closed in.

HALF-TIME: CHELTENHAM TOWN 2 SALFORD CITY 0

One of Salford’s less impressive performances so far, and it was no surprise when 3 changes were made during half-time. Bernard, Gotts & Wilson didn’t re-emerge for the second half as Tom James, Brandon Thomas-Asante and Mani Dieseruvwe were introduced into the action.

That ushered in a change to a back four and although the Ammies began to look more spritely, early second half opportunities went to the home side. In the 49th minute Reading loanee Smith tried a low, right of centre left-footer from 20 yards out. Hladký stooped to make the save, but needed a second attempt to hold on as May closed in.

A minute or so later Blair passed inside from the right for May to hit an angled 15-yarder that was saved by Hladký.

After that the Ammies enjoyed quite a bit of possession in more dangerous areas, although the Robins’ defence was looking strong and composed.

Thomas-Asante looked strong and direct, James was a composed presence at the back and Dieseruvwe added some height to the forward line. It was better from Salford, but they were again struggling to turn that possession into work for home keeper Griffiths to do.

A bit of promise for the Ammies, yet they almost allowed Town to push the game beyond their reach in the 61st minute. Again, the peril was very much avoidable as Hladký rolled the ball out to Turnbull, who patently wasn’t expecting to receive it. The central defender was challenged by Wright, with the ball pushed to the left where Smith put Eastham under pressure. The loose ball ended up with May, left of centre and 18 yards out, with his attempt to direct a low effort inside the far post passing just wide of it.

Cheltenham were protecting their two-goal lead well and Conor Thomas took one for the team as he picked up a booking for tugging back Thomas-Asante. In the 69th minute Dieseruvwe was fouled outside the Cheltenham box, with Tom James’ 25 yard free-kick rising high and dropping wide of Griffiths’ right-hand upright.

The second half had been better from Salford, yet they were still failing to test Griffiths anywhere near enough. That almost changed in the 71st minute when it seemed their pressing and possession might have paid off. Ibou Touray curled in a free-kick, left-footed from wide on the right, with the delivery headed clear at the far post. Threlkeld nodded the ball back into the mix, with Turnbull getting a touch to the left where Henderson was waiting. The former Rochdale man produced a finish of some quality, acrobatically hooking in an 8-yarder that dropped inside the stretching Griffiths’ right-hand post.

The referee indicated a goal, only to have his attention turned towards the assistant. Following a brief discussion, the ‘goal’ was disallowed, possibly due to an offside decision given against Turnbull or Henderson.

A big blow for Salford who would have had 20 minutes or more to push for a leveller and might have gone on to grab one. Instead, the Robins learned their lesson and effectively shut up shop for the rest of the game.

With 15 minutes left Hunter’s curling cross from wide on the left was aimed at the far post, only to drop wide without anyone getting a touch. The Ammies continued to pass the ball around, looking for a way through, but the necessary spark was missing.

In the 84th minute Lowe headed inside from the right for Threlkeld to shoot, but the midfielder’s 18 yarder soared high over the bar.

Cheltenham had been quiet for a while – they had no need to take risks, after all – but 5 minutes from time Thomas played Smith into the left-hand side of the box. An angled shot followed, but Eastham got in the way with the ball bouncing off him and behind for a corner.

The Ammies were carelessly caught offside a couple of times as they tried to force a way through to goal, but there would be no further chances to peg Town back. Four minutes of time added on eventually became six as Cheltenham disrupted what momentum there was, and the final whistle confirmed a 10th away league defeat of the season.

FULL-TIME: CHELTENHAM TOWN 2 SALFORD CITY 0

In the end this was a deserved defeat for the Ammies, who – unusually – lost defensive concentration a couple of times during the first half. Cheltenham needed to bounce back after a 2-0 home defeat to Barrow in midweek and were in no mood to give away their two-goal advantage.

Statistics can be deceiving in football, but the really disappointing one from this game is that the Ammies – other than for Henderson’s disallowed effort – didn’t manage to get a single shot on target. When you consider that Salford had almost two-thirds of the possession, that failure in front of goal becomes even less palatable.

It’s become a familiar pattern over recent games and needs to change very quickly if promotion is to be achieved. The gap to the top 3 is now 10 points, and with 11 games to play it will need a sustained run of wins to break into the automatic promotion spots. It looks like the play-offs may be a much more realistic option, but a single win from the last 8 games means that the Ammies are 6 points outside those places too.

It’s by no means too late, but form, goalscoring and point collecting has to improve hugely straight away. The Ammies have the rare luxury of a full week to prepare for their next game and Saturday’s trip to promotion hopefuls Exeter City is looking like a “must win”…

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