S a l f o r d
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Salford City football Club

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Team Sheet

Everton
31
Joāo Virginia
2
Jonjoe Kenny
5
Michael Keane
1 goals for Michael Keane
10
Gylfi Sigurdsson (c)
1 goals for Gylfi Sigurdsson (c)
11
Theo Walcott
18
Niels Nkounkou
20
Bernard
24
Anthony Gordon
26
Tom Davies
27
Moise Kean
1 goals for Moise Kean
32
Jarrad Branthwaite

Digne 24'

Salford City FC
1
Vaclav Hladky
3
Ibou Touray
4
Jason Lowe
5
Ash Eastham (c)
10
Ash Hunter
16
Jordan Turnbull
Yellow card for Jordan Turnbull
17
Richie Towell
18
Oscar Threlkeld

Gibson 73'

19
James Wilson

Andrade 61'

37
Brandon Thomas-Asante
Yellow card for Brandon Thomas-Asante

Elliott 73'

40
Ian Henderson
Substitutes
1
Jordan Pickford
6
Allan
7
Richarlison
9
Dominic Calvert-Lewin
12
Lucas Digne
16
Abdoulaye Doucoure
23
Seamus Coleman
Substitutes
31
William Evans (GK)
7
Luke Armstrong
8
Darron Gibson
9
Tom Elliott
11
Bruno Andrade
28
Alex Denny
32
Tylor Golden
Managers
Manager - Carlo Ancelotti
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Match Officals
Referee - Marc Edwards
Assistant Referee - Chris Isherwood
Assistant Referee - Hristo Karaivanov
Fourth Official - Scott Oldham

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Match
Report

Salford City’s first ever competitive fixture against top-flight opposition ended in defeat, and there can be few complaints about the result. Having said that, The Ammies battled away throughout and were in contention right until Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with just over 15 minutes to play. Overall this was a very creditable performance from Graham Alexander’s men against a strong Everton side.

Even though progress has been consistently impressive over the past 6 years or so, it’s still sometimes difficult to believe where Salford City Football Club now finds itself. From playing Manchester Premier Cup ties in front of double-figure crowds to running out at Goodison Park in League Cup tie (although ironically the attendance tonight probably didn’t make it into 3 figures either). A proud moment watching The Ammies kick off against Premier League opponents, and although they couldn’t conjure an upset, this was another memorable milestone in the club’s increasingly fascinating history.

Graham Alexander made four changes to the side that started Saturday’s draw with Exeter City, starting in central defence where Jordan Turnbull replaced Tom Clarke. Further upfield in came Richie Towell, James Wilson and Brandon Asante, with Darron Gibson, Luke Armstrong and Bruno Andrade among the substitutes.

The home side, as you might expect, would largely boss possession throughout the evening and carved out their first opportunity within the very 1st minute. Anthony Gordon cut into the penalty area from the left onto his favoured right foot, only to be closed down quickly by Turnbull who got in an effective block.

Just a couple of minutes later the action switched to the other end after Asante’s cross from the left dropped for Jason Lowe. There was a sight of goal for the former Bolton man, but he could only lift a 22-yarder high over the crossbar.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side were already settling into their passing game, and Brazilian midfielder Bernard would be behind many of their most promising moments. He almost provided the game’s first goal on 4 minutes, crossing right-footed from wide on the left. Theo Walcott evaded the attentions of Turnbull and with Vaclav Hladky hesitating just a little, got in a header that flew high into the air before dropping harmlessly behind the goal.

The England international might have done better there, and the next chance went to the visitors. Everton right-back Jonjoe Kenny gave away possession outside his own area, allowing Ash Hunter to swing in a cross that was aimed at James Wilson. Debutant Toffees’ keeper Joao Virginia had anticipated the danger and was on hand to make a competent catch.

A lively start from both sides in terms of attacking football, and the game’s first goal arrived in the 8th minute. Everton were awarded a corner on their left, with Sigurdsson delivering towards the near post. Central defender MICHAEL KEANE peeled away from a group of players, got away from Lowe then rose above Turnbull to glance a 6-yard header down and inside Hladky’s right-hand post.

An accomplished finish from another England international, although there would have been disappointment in the Salford dugout over the defending of that set-piece.

The Ammies responded by creating what would be one of their best chances of the evening. A couple of minutes after Keane’s opener Ian Henderson played a neat ball inside from the left, finding Towell 20 yards out and just left of centre. There were options for the Irish midfielder, particularly Wilson on the right, but he elected to shoot only to direct his rising effort straight at Virginia.

A good chance spurned, and you don’t get many playing against Premier League defences.

Other than the goal, the Ammies had made an encouraging start but Everton began to take a grip on the game. The home side were keeping possession and beginning to look for a second strike that would give them a comfortable cushion. Bernard was pulling strings and he slid a pass to the right for Walcott who had two shots in quick succession blocked by Turnbull, with a prodded third effort running harmlessly through to Hladky.

Having scored a goal Keane was in creative mood in the 14th minute, dropping a great long pass from deep at the feet of Walcott on the right. A short ball inside was picked up by Gordon who burst into the area before drilling a low shot past the far post.

Everton’s share of possession continued to grow for a while and on 16 minutes Tom Davies and Moise Kean tried to find a way through on the right. A deflection switched possession to Niels Nkounkou on the far side and he flicked the ball over a defender before slamming in a low angled effort that thudded into the crouching Hladky’s chest.

Nkounkou was causing problems again soon afterwards, powering past Oscar Threlkeld on Everton’s left before crossing low to the near post. Once again Hladky was alert to the danger, dropping down to stop and hold onto the ball.

The game went quiet for a while after that, with Everton passing the ball around and Salford standing firm at the back. An isolated opportunity popped up just past the half-hour as Walcott cut into the area from the right, but with better choices he tried a shot that flew well wide of the near post.

Seven minutes before the break Gordon was posing questions on the other flank, again darting inside before hitting a 17-yarder that flicked off the head of Turnbull and wide of the far post. Sigurdsson took the corner and although Keane got a head to it, the close attentions of Lowe forced him to direct it well beyond the far upright.

The Toffees cranked up the pressure again as half-time approached and Davies nudged a pass to Kenny on the right, with the full-back crossing low to the near post. Kean was hovering but Ash Eastham got there first to avert the danger. Seconds later Nkounkou moved possession inside from the left, via Davies, with Bernard the recipient. His low 22-yarder was on target until Hladky dived full length to push the ball wide of his left-hand post – another good save from a player who is already looking like a key signing.

That was about it for the first half and the Ammies had generally defended well, created a couple of openings despite not seeing too much of the ball and – most importantly – were still very much in the game.

HALF-TIME: EVERTON 1 SALFORD CITY 0

Still all to play for as the teams came out for the second half, and Salford looked lively from the restart. Three minutes in Ibou Touray – playing against his former club – whipped in a cross from the left that was headed out by Bernard. The ball fell for Lowe who had a go from 25 yards out but was unable to keep the effort down.

Everton looked dangerous when they got into the final third and they should have doubled their lead in the 49th minute. Kenny’s short ball inside from the right found Sigurdsson and the Icelandic international curled a peach of a cross to the edge of the 6-yard box, where Kean was waiting. The header that followed clipped off the top of the bar and out, but the former Juventus man should have done much better.

An escape for Salford and they would have to maintain defensive concentration for a while as Everton pushed forward in search of that increasingly elusive 2nd goal. Another Sigurdsson cross from the right was headed out by Turnbull, but only as far as Nkounkou whose 20-yard left-of-centre effort flew high over the crossbar.

Within another minute Bernard played Gordon into space on the left and his pace took him past Threlkeld. A smart pull-back returned the ball to Bernard in space and he would have been disappointed with a 12-yard left-footer that screwed wide of Hladky’s right-hand post.

It was all Everton at this point, but the home side presented their visitors with a chance on 57 minutes. Nkounkou gave the ball away under pressure from Towell and Wilson dropped a decent cross beyond the far post. Hunter nodded the ball back inside for Towell, but under some defensive pressure he snatched at a 12-yard left-footer and could only hoist the ball high over the bar.

A decent chance and it ushered in a good spell of pressure on the Everton goal. A minute later Henderson’s pass inside from the right picked out Asante’s run only for his angled shot to flick off Kenny and over the crossbar.

Salford manager Alexander looked to build on his side’s momentum, replacing Wilson with Bruno Andrade for the final half-hour. It was Everton’s turn to concentrate on defensive duties, but the Premier League side were soon looking to press forward again.

With 25 minutes to play Nkounkou dispossessed Towell wide on the left, on the halfway line. There were suspicions of a foul, but the referee waved play on and Nkounkou was able to advance before playing a low diagonal ball into the penalty area. Kean wasn’t far away from getting to it and Walcott even closer, but in the event the pace on the pass thwarted both of them.

Asante was booked on 69 minutes following a late challenge on Kenny and the game had become a touch scrappy, with Salford’s recent head of steam cooling.

Everton rolled forward again after Asante’s pass was intercepted by Bernard who sent Gordon away on the left. Once more he cut into the box onto his right-foot and a powerfully struck shot was parried by Hladky.

The Ammies had been forced to absorb plenty of pressure yet could have got back on level terms in the 72nd minute. Andrade, on the left, nudged a pass back to Touray and his cross dropped over Lucas Digne and onto the head of Henderson. You’d fancy the former Rochdale man in situations like this, but on this occasion the ball spun awkwardly off his head to drop harmlessly beyond the far post.

Andrade had a go next, from distance on the right, but that one never looked like troubling Virginia in the home goal.

The game was still finely balanced, although Everton were seeking a goal that would book their trip to Fleetwood Town in the 3rd Round. On 73 minutes Sigurdsson hoisted a ball into the box from a deep central position, with Kean the target. Eastham did well, getting there first to clear despite facing his own goal.

Dogged defending from the Ammies, but their hopes of Carabao Cup progression were dealt a severe blow within 60 seconds. Football is by nature a simple game and there was a real cutting edge to Everton’s next attacking move. Nkounkou slipped a pass through to Gordon on the left and he again ran into the area before passing low inside where SIGURDSSON was waiting to plant a controlled 10-yard side-footed finish past Hladky.

Salford had been preparing a couple of substitutes before that goal and they came on immediately after it. Darron Gibson, on his return to Goodison, replaced Threlkeld and Tom Elliott came on for Asante.

This was now a tall order for the Ammies, and indeed it was the home side who looked most likely to add to the evening’s scoring. Bernard’s pass to the right tempted Kenny into a 20-yard shot that skewed low and wide of Hladky’s left-hand post. Bernard’s next contribution was to find Nkounkou on the left and his low ball into the middle was a dangerous one. Turnbull was able to block out Kean but Walcott was on hand to try a follow-up 10-yarder with Hladky stretching to his right to fingertip the ball wide of the target.

Bernard was enjoying himself and a pass inside from the right allowed Kenny to try a dipping 20-yarder that dropped over the bar.

Salford were struggling to get possession and the Toffees went close again 6 minutes from time after Gordon flicked a pass inside from the left. Sigurdsson picked up possession, cleverly made a yard then hit a low effort that clipped off the outside of Hladky’s right-hand post.

Hopes of a comeback were fading as the clock ran down and Everton continued to hog the ball. Gordon was looking for his first Everton goal and in the 85th minute another run and dart inside ended with a thunderbolt angled 22-yarder that beat Hladky’s dive but came back off low off the inside of the far post. The ball deflected off the prone keeper, but Turnbull was on hand to punt a hasty clearance.

A third Everton goal was definitely on the cards and it duly arrived with 4 minutes left. Another attacked caused confusion in the visiting defence with a deflection giving Gordon possession on the edge of the 6-yard box. Andrade stretched to challenge from behind but succeeded only in upending his opponent.

The penalty was awarded and KEAN converted, hitting a shot more or less down the middle with Hladky committed to his left.

Game over, and Everton came close to a 4th goal during the last minute of the 90. Sigurdsson’s pass set up Kenny to deliver a cross from the right, with Kean’s 9-yard header coming back off Hladky’s right-hand post. Gordon saw that first goal beckoning, but from a tight-angle on the left could only hit a rising shot that came back off the bar and dropped to relative safety.

Disappointing for Gordon, who had done well, but it made little difference to the outcome.

FULL-TIME: EVERTON 3 SALFORD CITY 0

Had Salford not conceded a goal so early this game may have developed differently, but it would be difficult to deny that Everton deserved the victory. There is a big difference between the Premier League and League Two, yet the Ammies stuck to their task, created a few openings and kept the outcome in some doubt for all but the final 15 minutes.

One of those nights to learn lessons, admit that the better side won and move on. A landmark for the Ammies, and if recent progress continues, our next visit to Goodison Park might just have a different outcome. Salford City at Goodison Park? Who would have believed that?

Next up is an EFL League Two visit to Grimsby Town on Saturday and it’s the bread and butter of league games that will define Salford’s 2020-2021 season.

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