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Team Sheet

Maidstone United
26
Chris Lewington
5
Will De Havilland
6
Aron Davies

Phillips '46

8
Jack Powell
11
Blair Turgott
Yellow card for Blair Turgott
14
Justin Amaluzor

Embery '74

18
Jake Cassidy
20
Simon Walton

Romain '84

24
Josh Taylor
Yellow card for Josh Taylor
25
Rob Swaine
27
Shaun Donnellan
Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
4
Gus Mafuta

Whitehead '68

5
Liam Hogan (c)
Yellow card for Liam Hogan (c)
6
Carl Piergianni
8
Lois Maynard
9
Adam Rooney
2 goals for Adam Rooney 2 goals for Adam Rooney

Gaffney '80

15
Devonte Redmond

Walker '80

20
Mani Dieseruvwe
23
Nathan Pond
Substitutes
12
Josh Strizovic
9
Elliot Romain
15
Jake Embery
22
Michael Phillips
23
Jack Richards
Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
7
Matt Green
11
Tom Walker
18
Danny Whitehead
30
Rory Gaffney
Managers
Head of Football - John Still
Head Coach - Hakan Hayrettin
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Match Officals
Referee - Will Finnie
Assistant Referee - Marcus Carmichael
Assistant Referee - Gary Jerden
Fourth Official - Simon Finnigan

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Match
Report

A first-half brace from Adam Rooney pushed Salford City back to the pyramidion of non-league football, as well as condemning Maidstone United to the National League South for 2019-2020. The Ammies produced a scintillating first-half performance at The Gallagher Stadium and could have gone into the break four goals up. After the interval there would be less goalmouth incident, but The Stones never really looked like getting back into the game. Up the road a few miles Leyton Orient came back from two down to draw with FC Halifax Town but it wasn’t enough to hold on to the top spot that seemed to be comfortably theirs just a couple of weeks ago.

There were no changes to the squad that staged that late show against Bromley last week and Graham Alexander’s in-form side meant business from the start. With a couple of minutes played Carl Piergianni played a long, diagonal ball from the left-back position and it fell nicely for Scott Wiseman on the far side of the pitch. The wing-back would torment Maidstone throughout the afternoon and here his head-height cross flashed across the six-yard box, just in front of Mani Dieseruvwe.

Wiseman was at if again a few minutes later, picking up a pass from Rooney before skinning Shaun Donnellan on his way into the penalty area. A low cross to Rooney at the near post followed but the Salford striker couldn’t wrap his foot around a first-time effort that flew well wide of Chris Lewington’s left-hand upright.

In the ninth minute another crisp Salford attack caused confusion in the home penalty area and Rooney hit a twenty-yarder from right-of-centre. Stones’ keeper Lewington did well with that one, diving to his left to push the ball away to safety.

It was all Salford at this point and a corner from their left was met on the run by Nathan Pond whose ten-yard header came back of Lewington’s right-hand upright. A stroke of luck for Maidstone, whose season has been short on that commodity, but it would run out within another sixty seconds. Lois Maynard’s bustling run through the inside-left channel was closed down on the edge of the area, with the ball falling for ROONEY. From just outside the box and a little right of centre, the Ammies’ top-scorer turned to hit a low shot that nestled in Lewington’s bottom right-hand corner with the keeper given no chance to save.

No more than Salford deserved, and they were in the mood to add to that early lead. With twenty minutes played Wiseman again found plenty of space on the right, delivering a low ball to the edge of the area. Rooney was there again but this time he could only lift his effort high over the crossbar.

There would be little respite for the Stones, with Ibou Touray playing a ball down the left for Dieseruvwe to chase. Having slipped the attentions of his marker the big striker aimed a ball at the near post, where Rooney couldn’t get a decisive touch. Gus Mafuta was on hand a few yards behind him, but home defender Rob Swaine was in the way and made no mistake with the clearance.

There was more pressure for the home side to contend with, and after a corner from their right ricocheted around the ball bounced past Lewington to his left. Fortunately for the Stones, Jack Powell was able to nod clear from the line with a colleague on hand to complete the clearance.

It seemed that Wiseman had been handed the freedom of the right flank and on twenty-eight minutes his cross from the right was heading straight for Rooney on the penalty spot until Swaine got up to glance the ball away. Fourteen minutes from half-time Dieseruvwe cleverly allowed a hoisted ball forward to drop over his head and once again Wiseman had space to operate in. This time he drilled a low ball to the near post were a sublime flick of the foot from Rooney beat the bemused Lewington, only for the effort to come back off the inside of the far post before being scrambled clear.

Chris Neal had been a virtual spectator so far, but he had a moment of concern in the thirty-third minute. Piergianni collected a short throw from his keeper on the left, only to lose his footing on the artificial surface. Jake Cassidy nipped in to play a diagonal pass into the box where Pond got across to close down Blair Turgott, at the expense of a corner.

A reminder of how fragile a single goal lead can be, and the Stones had a decent few minutes of possession on the back of that half-chance. A couple of minutes later Pond did well again, hooking away a bouncing ball inside the area, under some pressure from Cassidy.

Liam Hogan picked up a silly booking nine minutes before the interval after booting the ball away and from the free-kick Simon Walton found Turgott on the right and he lofted a cross into the box. Aron Davies got up to meet it, right-of-centre, but his header dropped harmlessly wide of the far post.

A degree of encouragement for the home side, but Salford were soon turning the screw again. In the thirty-eighth minute Touray’s free-kick from wide on the right was touched on at the near post, with Pond getting onto it before crashing into Lewington. The ball rolled towards goal, but a defender was on hand to clear and Pond took a moment to recover from what looked to be a blow to the wrist.

A one-goal advantage would have been poor reward for Salford’s first-half efforts, but the situation was remedied in the forty-second minute. Fittingly it was constructed by the two players who had done most to unsettle the home defence so far. Wiseman again pushed forward on the right, getting almost to the line before crossing low to the nearside corner of the six-yard box. ROONEY was on the end of it and this time his audacious flicked finish beat Lewington before hitting the net inside the far post.

A sublime finish from a master of the art for his twentieth league goal of the season and Salford’s lead now better reflected their dominance of the first half.

HALF-TIME: MAIDSTONE UNITED 0 SALFORD CITY 2

A commanding position for The Ammies and Maidstone made a change during the break, with Davies replaced by Michael Phillips.

At first it seemed that the second half would continue in the same vein as the first as Salford created an opening within a couple of minutes of the restart. Wiseman was again the architect, crossing from deep on the right for Maynard to stoop and get in an eight-yard header that was held by Lewington.

After that chance for the visitors Maidstone were to see more of the ball as Salford looked to protect their lead. Walton’s ball to the right gave Turgott a chance to cut into the area, where his progress was stopped by a Piergianni challenge. The home forward collapsed to the plastic, claiming a penalty only for the referee to book him for simulation.

The Stones won a free-kick in the fifty-fifth minute, about halfway between the edge of the box and right-side touchline. Powell took a leaf out of Wiseman’s book, delivering low to the near post where Turgott hit a first-time effort a few yards wide.

The home side were enjoying their best spell of the match and Phillips cross from the right was met by Cassidy whose header dropped well wide of the far upright.

The Ammies were sitting back a little although Maidstone, despite plenty of effort, were struggling to conjure a real threat to Neal’s goal. Once again that back three were proving to be an effective barrier and time was running out for the Stones.

Midway through the second half Wiseman reprised his first-half approach, sliding a low pass into the box for Dieseruvwe to hit an angled effort wide of the far post.

Danny Whitehead came on for Mafuta after that and it seemed as if Salford had taken the sting – modest though it had been – from the home side’s attempts to get back into the game.

With thirteen minutes left Touray’s low ball inside from the left found Rooney at the near post, but this time he could only lift an angled effort over the bar.

Salford manager Alexander introduced Tom Walker & Rory Gaffney for Redmond and Rooney soon after that, with the Stones bringing on Elliott Romain for Walton.

Maidstone tried to press as the final whistle approached and might have had a goal four minutes from time. Turgott’s ball from the left found Josh Taylor on the far side and his angled, goal-bound effort was blocked by Touray. Another home attack followed, with Donnellan clipping a pass inside from the left for Phillips to hit a firm twenty-five yarder straight at Neal.

There were three minutes of time to be added on and during the first of those Stones’ substitute Romain slammed in a low twenty-five yarder from right-of-centre. The shot was well struck but Neal was able to usher it into the side-netting at his near post.

That would be the afternoon's last incident of not and the final whistle signalled Salford’s return to the top as well as the end of Maidstone’s three-season stay in the National League.

FULL-TIME: MAIDSTONE UNITED 0 SALFORD CITY 2

Salford’s travelling support serenaded their side off the pitch following a thoroughly professional performance that secured three more vital league points. Once again, everyone in red did their job and those two quality strikes from Rooney before the interval effectively pushed the game beyond Maidstone’s reach.

The lead probably should have been even greater, but The Ammies did well after the break, protecting their advantage and absorbing the attacks that Maidstone could muster. The home side certainly had more of the ball during the second half, yet in the final analysis they could do little with it in the areas that matter most.

Orient’s last-gasp equaliser means that Salford’s newly established lead at the top is a single point and the O’s have a home game in hand on Tuesday versus Eastleigh. Anything but an away win in that one will see The Ammies playing catch-up again by the time Maidenhead travel to The Peninsula Stadium for next Saturday’s televised game.

It’s tight at the top, with Solihull also just a point behind and Wrexham three further back. AFC Fylde have a game in hand and will certainly fancy their chances of throwing their hat into the automatic promotion ring.

It’s a case of who will hold their form – and nerve -, and in that respect The Ammies might just be in pole position…

Attendance: 2,050 (including 73 Salford City)

https://salfordcityfc.co.uk