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Team Sheet

Forest Green Rovers
1
Adam Smith
3
Dom Bernard
6
Farrend Rawson
Yellow card for Farrend Rawson
7
Carl Winchester
14
Ebou Adams
16
Jevani Brown

Collins 60'

20
Liam Kitching
23
Joseph Mills (c)
25
Junior Mondal
11
Josh March
1 goals for Josh March

McCoulsky 75'

29
Jack Aitchison

Frear 46'

Salford City FC
12
Kyle Letheren
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
1 goals for Ibou Touray
9
Adam Rooney (c)

Hughes 80'

15
Cameron Burgess
17
Richie Towell
Red card for Richie Towell Yellow card for Richie Towell Yellow card for Richie Towell
23
Nathan Pond
Yellow card for Nathan Pond
28
Brandon Thomas-Asante

Baldwin 66'

29
Michael O'Connor
1 goals for Michael O'Connor Yellow card for Michael O'Connor
32
Jake Jervis

Andrade 46'

45
Ashley Hunter
Red card for Ashley Hunter Yellow card for Ashley Hunter Yellow card for Ashley Hunter
Substitutes
24
Lewis Thomas
5
Matt Mills
10
Aaron Collins
17
Elliott Frear
18
Kevin Dawson
19
Nathan McGinley
21
Shawn McCoulsky
Substitutes
1
Chris Neal
11
Tom Elliott
13
Sam Hughes
16
Jack Baldwin
26
Bruno Andrade
44
Craig Conway
Managers
Manager - Mark Cooper
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Match Officals
Referee - Nicholas Kinseley
Assistant Referee - Andrew Laver
Assistant Referee - Simon Shaw
Fourth Official - Mark Derrien

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Match
Report

The Ammies recorded a first league win of 2020 this afternoon, defying two late sendings-off to beat Forest Green Rovers 2-1. Roared on by the faithful few, Graham Alexander’s side displayed their grit to repel a late onslaught, with the 10 - and for a bit, 9 - men putting bodies on the line to secure 3 very welcome points. Goals from Ibou Touray and debutant Michael O’Connor proved just enough in the end and this impressive result might just be the one that kick-starts the second half of the season.

There were changes from the side that lost at home to Northampton Town last Saturday, starting in the centre of defence where Nathan Pond came in for Sam Hughes. In midfield Ash Hunter got a first Salford start, at the expense of Craig Conway with debutant Michael O’Connor replacing Jack Baldwin. Up front, Adam Rooney was back and among the substitutes were recent signings Tom Elliott and Bruno Andrade.

With a rather tasty vegan pasty (curried chickpea and cauliflower) tucked away, I was ready for the game to begin – and so, it seemed, were Salford City. Within 3 minutes of the start the visitors were awarded a free-kick wide on the right, with TOURAY swinging a left-footed delivery into the box. Nobody got a touch in the middle and Rovers keeper Adam Smith seemed to lose sight of the trajectory. A despairing dive to the right came too late as the ball dropped sedately inside the far post to put Salford ahead.

Not the shabbiest of starts and a stung Forest Green were soon looking to find a response. Dom Bernard played a pass inside from the right, with Jevani Brown moving the ball on for Junior Mondal just inside the left-hand angle of the box. The low shot that followed was on target, until the ball spun off a defender and behind for a corner. A couple of minutes later Brown lined up a right-of-centre 22-yarder that was bravely charged down by O’Connor.

The home side were applying pressure and got back on level terms in the 11th minute. Bernard was afforded space to exploit on the right and his low cross to the near post was a decent one. Junior Mondal couldn’t turn the ball home but it fell for JOSH MARCH who made no mistake, slamming a low finish between Kyle Letheren and his left-hand upright.

Soon after March’s leveller Hunter picked up a yellow card for a trip on Joe Mills, and that would come back to bite later on in the game. For the moment both sides were creating chances, and the next one fell to Salford City. Midway through the first half Rooney did well to turn a low pass into Scott Wiseman’s path on the right. The full-back’s low ball into the middle was good, but under some defensive pressure the sliding Asante could only lift a shot over the crossbar.

Rovers almost shot themselves in the foot a few minutes after that as Farrend Rawson’s back-pass from the right-back position failed to find keeper Smith. That was because Hunter, nippy and alert, darted in to intercept tight to the line, doing exceptionally well to keep the ball in play. There were red shirts in the middle but having created the chance himself the Fleetwood loanee elected to have a go. The angle was acute, yet Hunter came close to restoring Salford’s lead as his low effort struck the base of the post before going behind for a goal kick.

The Ammies pushed forward again on the half-hour and Hunter’s drilled delivery from the right struck Rooney inside the penalty area. Wiseman was on hand to play the loose ball back inside, but Jack Aitchison managed to block that one out for a corner.

A decent spell for Salford but the home side resumed their search for a second goal as the interval approached. In the 33rd minute a miscue from Wiseman dropped nicely for March and his left-of-centre volley was deflected over for a corner that was cleared.

March created the next home chance himself, advancing wide on the left and making it to the line. Salford’s Pond slipped and the Rovers forward was able to get in a low shot that Letheren collected low down at his near post.

Two minutes into time added on Towell’s pass inside from the left went astray, with Brown getting the better of O’Connor as the two tussled for possession on the halfway line. The Rovers man advanced through the middle before hitting a low drive straight at Letheren.

HALF-TIME: FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1 SALFORD CITY 2

The Ammies made a change at the break, with Andrade replacing Jervis to make his Salford debut following a midweek transfer from Lincoln City.

Forest Green introduced a substitute for the second half too, and he produced the first chance after the restart. Elliot Frear’s cross from the left was cleared as far as Carl Winchester whose powerfully struck effort from just outside the box flew wide of the keeper’s right-hand post.

The home side were applying some pressure and Winchester’s pass to the right found Bernard who clipped the ball back inside. Ebou Adams was on the end of it but from just right of centre he lifted in an effort that proved straightforward for Letheren to catch.

Promising for Mark Cooper’s side but they found themselves trailing again in the 54th minute. Rooney did well on the right, curling a dangerous cross to the far post, forcing Bernard to head behind for a corner. Touray’s high delivery dropped into the middle and was headed clear, but only as far as O’CONNOR who promptly endeared himself to the supporters of his new club. The former Lincoln midfielder moved on to the dropping ball, hitting a low effort from 20 yards through the crowded box and just inside Smith’s left-hand post.

Rovers were chasing the game again and almost found another quick reply on the hour. Brown’s pass found Winchester and his curling effort from the edge of the area dropped just outside Letheren’s left-hand angle of post and bar.

On 63 minutes Towell was yellow carded for a foul on Bernard – another incident that would come home to roost a little later in the afternoon. Just after that Aaron Collins flicked a pass to Mondal who drilled a low 25-yarder just wide of Letheren’s left-hand post.

Half chances for the home side, but generally they weren’t having much luck against a Salford team that looked determined to bring that recent run of disappointing results to an end. Indeed the visitors could have extended their lead in the 68th minute after Hunter cut inside from the right and back-heeled short pass for Towell to hit a 25-yard stinger that Smith could only collect at the second attempt.

Baldwin came on for Asante midway through the second half as Salford looked to protect their narrow advantage, but the next chance went their way as well. Andrade cut inside from the left then tried to find the gap between Smith and the far post, only to see his effort bounce wide of the target.

At the other end Collins and Frear swapped passes before the former prodded a low shot wide of Letheren’s right-hand post.

Salford were looking relatively comfortable at this stage but would suffer something of a blow with 15 minutes left to play. Towell, booked a dozen minutes before, was adjudged to have deliberately handballed and the referee produced the first red card picked up by an Ammie this season.

Rovers did their best to make the advantage count, but the 10 men – not unusually – had reacted to adversity by digging in, closing down and contesting every ball. With 11 minutes to play Hughes replaced Rooney, with only the wide men offering an attacking outlet from that point on.

A bold tactic and to be fair, it looked like it might well do the trick. Forest Green Rovers had handed out a bit of a footballing lesson at the Peninsula Stadium back in September but were struggling to find that level of fluency here against tenacious opponents.

Even so, the pressure was cranking up as we entered the final 10 minutes of what looked likely to be tense closing stages for the travelling supporters. Winchester had another go from distance without troubling Letheren, but Collins went much closer during the 83rd minute. The home forward made a yard of space in the box and was unlucky to see a low, powerfully struck effort come back off the upright. Frear lifted a shot over the bar when well-placed and a number of corners and crosses had to competently and determinedly defended. A corner dropped just over the head of lofty substitute Shawn McCoulsky and the same player just failed to make contact with a low Mills cross 2 minutes from time.

In the final minute of the 90 Collins rolled a corner from the left to the edge of the box, but Mills could only lift a shot over the target. This was very much a game of attack-and-defence now, with the defence on top as the game moved into 5 minutes of time added on.

Still Rovers couldn’t find a way through and Liam Kitching’s effort from distance went wide before the Ammies were reduced to 9 men. Hunter’s attempt to relieve the pressure on Salford’s right initially went well, but after cutting inside on the halfway line he went to ground a little bit too easily. A second yellow was the result and the frantic closing moments tested the nerve of even the most hardened of Salford supporters.

Letheren had to tip a dipping cross over the bar and was then forced to push a low Adams shot around the post as Rovers did all they could to rescue a point. It seemed as if a goal must come but in the 7th minute of injury time the referee’s whistle confirmed a particularly hard-fought win.

FULL-TIME: FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1 SALFORD CITY 2

The Salford supporters who travelled to rural Gloucestershire had made themselves heard all afternoon and were understandably keen to acclaim their side as they left the pitch. The physical toll this performance had taken was plain to see – the lads had given everything for the cause and deserved their applause.

Prior to the first sending-off Salford had created the game’s better chances and deserved to be ahead. After it they adjusted their tactics, then grafted and scrapped their way to a vital win.

This isn't the first time over recent seasons that Salford City have defied numerical odds to secure vital points - it's all about grit and the will to win.

Results have been uneven over recent weeks, but this sort of win could provide a springboard for the remaining 18 games. There are 54 points up for grabs, and if anything like this level of grit and desire can be replicated, who knows where we could end up?

Attendance: 2,707 (132 away)

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