S a l f o r d
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Team Sheet

Ebbsfleet United
1
Nathan Ashmore
Yellow card for Nathan Ashmore
2
Jack King
3
Sam Magri
Yellow card for Sam Magri
8
Ebou Adams

Whitely '62

9
Danny Kedwell (c)
10
Andy Drury
Red card for Andy Drury
11
Myles Weston
12
Michael Cheek
16
Jack Payne
22
Bagasan Graham
23
Lawrie Wilson
Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
4
Gus Mafuta
5
Liam Hogan (c)
6
Carl Piergianni
1 goals for Carl Piergianni Yellow card for Carl Piergianni
7
Matt Green
8
Lois Maynard
15
Devonte Redmond
Yellow card for Devonte Redmond
20
Mani Dieseruvwe

Gaffney '82

23
Nathan Pond
Substitutes
13
Jonathan Miles
14
Freddy Moncur
18
Corey Whitely
21
Arif Omar
Substitutes
10
Danny Lloyd
11
Tom Walker
12
Max Crocombe
26
James Jones
30
Rory Gaffney
Managers
Manager - Garry Hill
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Match Officals
Referee - Andrew Miller
Assistant Referee - Martyn Holmes
Assistant Referee - Dele Sotimirin
Fourth Official - Craig Barnett

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Match
Report

A first-half Carl Piergianni header earned Salford City a hugely valuable victory at Ebbsfleet United’s Kuflink Stadium. The Ammies put in a rock-solid display to frustrate a side who were just 5 points behind them at kick-off, and this was a deserved first win in six league outings. We needed this one and Graham Alexander’s side now face two huge home games that could transform the National League promotion picture

There were changes from the side that lost at home to Eastleigh last Saturday. Nathan Pond was back in a three-man central defence, with Lois Maynard, Devonte Redmond and Gus Mafuta the trio in midfield. Making way were Danny Whitehead and Amine Linganzi (both injured), with Tom Walker dropping down to the bench. Mani Dieseruvwe was handed a first league start of the season upfront, with Rory Gaffney among the substitutes.

This was a big game for both sides and the early stages were a little bit cagey, with passes going astray under the influence of a blustery breeze.

The Ammies settled first and the afternoon’s first opportunity went their way in the 9th minute. Redmond’s short corner from the left was lofted in by Ibou Touray, with the clearance falling for Pond. From just outside the box and right-of-centre he hit a rising shot that cleared the bar without causing too much concern for home keeper Nathan Ashmore.

There was more pressure on the home goal within a minute after Scott Wiseman’s cross from the right was only partially cleared. The ball dropped for Mafuta only for his 15-yard effort to be blocked by a defender.

It’s fair to say that Ebbsfleet would struggle to test Chris Neal all afternoon, but they were almost handed an opportunity in the 13th minute. Piergianni’s header back to his keeper from the left-back position wasn’t quite firm enough, encouraging Michael Cheek to determinedly chase the ball. A brief moment of concern for The Ammies allayed when Neal advanced quickly to claim possession.

Fleet skipper Danny Kedwell managed to swing over a cross from wide on the right, but Neal rose unchallenged to pluck the ball out of the air.

It wouldn’t get much better than that for Garry Hill’s side, certainly before the interval. Salford looked increasingly dangerous as the half progressed and almost took a 19th minute lead. Ibou Touray was fouled on a left-flank run, with Redmond aiming the free-kick to the far post. Pond got up on the edge of the six-yard box and his downward header beat Ashmore only to bounce wide of the far upright.

Dieseruvwe’s overhead attempt was blocked after that, with Touray penalised for handball during the scramble that followed. Midway through the first half Green’s bustling, diagonal run to the left was curtailed by a foul. Touray and Redmond stood over the subsequent free-kick and It was the former who had a go only to see his 20-yarder slam into the defensive wall.

The Ammies were on top, looking composed at the back and winning most of the midfield battles. All they needed was a goal, and that almost materialised on the half-hour. Redmond intercepted an attempted Fleet clearance before threading a pass to Green, on the edge of the box. Space was tight but the former Lincoln man clipped in an effort that seemed to be on course to creep inside Ashmore’s right-hand post. The United keeper had a good game at The Peninsula Stadium earlier this season and he thwarted Salford again here, getting across to push the ball one-handed around the upright for a corner.

That set-piece was dealt with by the home defence, but they didn’t do quite as well with the next one. Redmond took it from the left, but at first it looked as if he had slightly over-hit the delivery as the ball dropped beyond the far post. Liam Hogan did ever so well to stretch and hook the ball into the middle where PIERGIANNI met it with a downward header from 6 yards that beat Ashmore at his right-hand post.

A goal that had been threatening to come as Salford exerted pressure on a hesitant looking Fleet defence. The home side couldn't find much in the way of a response and The Ammies would look comfortable until the half-time whistle.

Fleet’s Andy Drury needed treatment in the 40th minute after a robust collision with Mafuta and Sam Magri was booked for a foul on Dieseruvwe. Touray lifted the free-kick from deep on the left to the far post where Pond arrived to get in a header that clipped off the outside of Ashmore’s near post.

HALF TIME: EBBSFLEET UNITED 0 SALFORD CITY 1

A very satisfactory opening 45 minutes from Salford’s point of view, denying their hosts possession and creating a few decent openings along the way. They had some defending to do soon after the restart though as Kedwell’s pass played Bagasan Graham into the left-hand side of the area. It looked for a moment as if the Fleet man would find space for a shot, but Hogan got across quickly to put in a perfectly timed challenge.

Some encouragement for the home supporters but their side failed to build on that early promise, with Salford soon resuming their control over the game. In the 57th minute Ashmore almost presented them with a 2nd goal, hitting a clearance straight at Green who tried to play a low ball into the middle. The Fleet keeper redeemed himself by getting down to push the cross behind but then picked up a yellow card, presumably for dissent.

In terms of attacking play the 2nd half had proved to be relatively quiet so far, but that suited Salford who were still looking relatively untroubled. The visitors continued to have the better of what chances there were, with a Touray corner cleared as far as Redmond who played a ball back in from the right. Pond was on the end of it but his shot from just outside the box flew yards wide of Ashmore’s right-hand upright.

Redmond had a go himself a few minutes later, but from a similar distance could only slam in a rising effort that cleared the crossbar.

Modest opportunities to extend Salford’s lead but Green had a better one in the 66th minute. After cutting inside from the right he found himself one-on-one with Ashmore and the trigger was pulled. The angled effort got past the keeper but took enough of a touch to slow it down, with Jack King on hand to punt clear from in front of goal.

Despite plenty of huff and puff Fleet were struggling to find a crack in Salford’s defence although a half-chance fell to Kedwell with just less than 20 minutes to play. Jack Payne’s corner from the right was a decent one and Fleet’s captain got in a header, despite plenty of pressure from a defender. Neal was able to watch that one sail well wide of his left-hand post and the referee was unmoved by Kedwell’s claims that he’d been impeded.

At the other end Maynard’s low shot from distance was scooped up by Ashmore and just after that Redmond was yellow-carded for hauling back Corey Whitely.

Ebbsfleet were committing men forward in an attempt to find a way through to Neal’s goal. In the 76th minute Lawrie Wilson’s pass down the right gave Whitely the chance to cross, with Hogan heading behind as red shirts closed in. Payne whipped in the right-flank corner and a defensive clearance dropped nicely for Graham, on the edge of the box and right-of-centre. The shot that followed was well struck and might just have found its way inside Neal’s left-hand post until Pond got in a header that deflected the ball wide of the far upright.

That got the home crowd going but once again their team couldn’t exert consistent, effective pressure on that impressive Salford defence. The points were looking increasingly likely to be heading north but Ebbsfleet weren’t quite finished yet. With less than 3 minutes of the 90 remaining Piergianni was booked for a trip on Cheek and Ebbsfleet had a free-kick in a very dangerous position. The defensive wall was constructed, Kedwell and Myles Weston stood over the ball and the away supporters behind Neal’s goal held their breath. Conceding an equaliser at this point would have been rough on Salford but it didn’t come to that as Weston’s left-footed effort rose to evade the wall but didn’t quite dip enough, dropping over the bar and onto the roof of the net.

The referee indicated a minimum of 4 minutes to be added on but the only real chance for either side came during the 2nd of them. Payne’s long throw from the left was flicked on inside the area by Kedwell. It wasn’t a bad attempt, but Neal moved calmly to his left to pluck the ball out of the air.

FULL TIME: EBBSFLEET UNITED 0 SALFORD CITY 1

Needless to say, this was a much-needed win for The Ammies and there can be little doubt that they deserved it. A hardworking, controlled performance rather than a buccaneering one perhaps, but the object of the exercise today was to get the points in the bag. Job done then, and with Wrexham, Solihull, Orient and Fylde all winning this could yet turn out to be a vital result.

A strong defence and midfield underpinned this win, with Ebbsfleet unable to ever get a grip on the game. Manager Graham Alexander will be pleased with the performance and desire of his players this afternoon following a rocky spell that had threatened to derail the promotion dream.

A return to winning ways then, just in time for two vital home games over the next 7 days. Sutton United, in need of points to break into the play-off places, provide the opposition on Tuesday. On Saturday high-flying Solihull Moors come to The Peninsula Stadium for what could very well be a crunch encounter.

That league table could well look very different this time next week…

Attendance: 1,708 (@80 from Salford)

https://salfordcityfc.co.uk