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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
6
Carl Piergianni
9
Adam Rooney (c)
10
Danny Lloyd

Hogan '86

11
Tom Walker

Haughton '69

18
Danny Whitehead
19
Mark Shelton
23
Nathan Pond
30
Rory Gaffney

Rodney '69

Maidstone United
1
Lee Worgan (c)
2
Michee Efete
4
Jordan Wynter

Richards '80

5
Will De Havilland
6
Alex Finney
10
Jack Paxman

Coker '75

14
Jamar Loza
Yellow card for Jamar Loza
15
Shamir Mullings
1 goals for Shamir Mullings
16
Seth Nana Twumasi
21
Ollie Muldoon
22
Michael Phillips
Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
5
Liam Hogan
7
Nick Haughton
16
James Hooper
21
Devante Rodney
Substitutes
12
Matt Funnell
7
Andre Coker
18
Jordy Robins
19
Elliott Capel
23
Jack Richards
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Interim Manager - Steve Watt
Match Officals
Referee - Glen Hart
Assistant Referee - Elliott Heward
Assistant Referee - Jonathan Bickerdike
Fourth Official - Ian Walsh

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Match
Report

The Ammies made it 7 games unbeaten with a 1-0 win over Maidstone United and these 3 points take them into the National League’s play-off places for the first time this season. Shamir Mullings’ own-goal separated the two sides but by the time it arrived Salford could have been out of sight following another dominant first-half display.

There was one change from the line-up that won so impressively at Fylde on Saturday as Danny Lloyd returned from suspension to replace Nick Haughton.

The rain that had started early in the morning continued to pour as the game got underway but the conditions did nothing to dampen Salford’s early enthusiasm. The Ammies were looking lively and within 2 minutes had the ball in the net. Ibou Touray’s pass found Rory Gaffney who moved the possession on to fellow Irishman Adam Rooney. A nice finish was tucked away efficiently but hopes of an early lead were to be dashed as the assistant referee raised his flag to indicate offside.

Salford were seeing plenty of the ball already, moving posession around well and searching for chinks in the Stones defensive wall. In the 7th minute Lloyd’s ball out to the left was collected by Rooney whose low cross zipped across the penalty area. Gaffney failed to make contact at the near post them Tom Walker couldn’t connect with an attempted side-foot and Maidstone were able to scramble the ball clear.

A solid start for the Ammies and only bad luck with the final ball had prevented them from taking the lead. They were knocking on the door again in the 13th minute as Danny Whitehead lifted a great right-of-centre pass that dropped for Mark Shelton to chase. The former Alfreton man did well to get to the line then managed to pull a very decent ball across the face of goal. Salford's leading scorer Rooney must have been bare inches away from converting that chance but Maidstone's goal survived.

Rooney turned provider within a couple of minutes after he had collected Walker’s pass from the left. A precise diagonal ball found Gaffney on the opposite flank and he turned inside before hitting an 18-yard left-footer high and wide of Lee Worgan’s right-hand post.

Maidstone hadn’t really produced anything of note so far but could – and probably should – have gone ahead in the 16th minute. A Stones player won his midfield challenge and Mullings set off in pursuit of a ball than was running on a central path towards Salford’s goal. The big striker found a burst of pace that took him away from Nathan Pond and Carl Piergianni, making it into the box before clipping a low shot wide of the advancing Chris Neal and just outside his left-hand post. The visitors won possession straight from the goal-kick with Jamar Loza finding some space wide on the left. A neat turn inside gave the former Norwich man a sight of goal but his gently curving shot passed a couple of feet wide of the far post.

Two chances for the Stones – one of them gilt edged – but Salford were soon bossing the game again. Scott Wiseman broke into acres of space on the right before putting in a cross that was contested by Rooney and Maidstone defender Will De Havilland. In the end neither of them got there as Worgan managed to punch the ball to safety.

Lots of possession, some good build-ups but no breakthrough – not an unknown combination for Salford this season, but they very nearly got a goal midway through the first half. Shelton’s ball down the right sent Wiseman almost to the line and he worked the ball inside to Gaffney. A square pass to the left picked out Rooney but his low, left-of-centre effort from 6 yards was deflected to safety off Worgan’s boots. The danger wasn’t over and Lloyd swung over a cross from the left but Gaffney, incoming towards the far post, was stretching and could only head over.

It was another case of ‘nearly’ in the 29th minute as Touray sent Lloyd away on the left and the cross was decent but just a little bit behind Gaffney in the middle.

Maidstone were defending well but the pressure on their goal was unrelenting at this point. When two visiting defenders got in each-others way the ball fell temptingly for Rooney and he tried an overhead kick that was hacked away by Alex Finney. There was barely time to draw breath before Gaffney turned the ball back for Whitehead who hit a long diagonal ball to the left. Rooney had pulled wide again and directed a firm, low pass towards Gaffney at the far post. Again though it wasn’t to be for Salford as the well positioned Finney punted a clearance upfield.

It was certainly fair to say that while Salford had been in the ascendancy for most of the half, Worgan had only been tested once or twice. The Maidstone keeper had another real save to make 11 minutes before the interval as Walker let fly with a rising 25-yard drive that was pushed over the crossbar for a corner. Walker was soon causing more problems for the Stones defence, advancing on the right before cutting into the box and heading for the line. His low cross was tempting but neither Rooney at the near post nor anyone else in the middle could apply a finishing touch.

At the other end a rare Maidstone attack ended with Mullings going to ground inside the area but the referee was unmoved by claims for a penalty.

Salford finished the half looking for the goal that had somehow evaded them so far. A Shelton pass from the left found Walker whose left-of-centre 20-yarder cleared the crossbar by a yard. In the 43rd minute Lloyd crossed from the same side and Gaffney passed to Whitehead just outside the area and left-of-centre. The shot that followed looked decent but spun off Rooney’s head before the dropping ball was collected by Worgan.

The half finished with one last Ammie chance as Shelton, Lloyd and Touray combined before Gaffney’s cross from the left dropped just over Rooney at the far post.

HALF TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 MAIDSTONE UNITED 0

A good opening 45 minutes from Salford’s point of view but they hadn’t managed to convert possession into too many chances, nor those chances into goals. The Ammies were in need of a little bit of good fortune and it arrived right on cue in the 47th minute. A Lloyd corner from the left didn’t seemed destined to cause too many problems but Mullings, back to help out his defence and under little pressure, planted a header past Worgan from the edge of the 6-yard box.

A moment to forget for Mullings but Salford deserved to be in front – would they now be able to go on and wrap up the points?

To be fair to the visitors Maidstone were in no mood to capitulate and Mullings tried to make an impact at the other end just a few minutes later. Displaying quick feet the summer signing from Forest Green Rovers tucked a pass back for Michael Phillips who in turn played Michee Efete into space. Good football from the Stones and although Efete’s cross was collected by Neal the visitors would gradually begin to seem rather more of the ball.

Salford were looking a less potent attacking force than before the break but were still more than capable of creating chances. The quality of approach play was still high and in the 56th minute Wiseman’s pass up the right found Shelton who slid a great ball into the right-hand side of the box for Gaffney. The Salford striker showed good control before spinning to slam a low left-footed effort across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

A good effort from Gaffney but on the hour Salford almost repaid Maidstone for that own goal. Wiseman was under pressure from Loza on Maidstone’s left but seemed to have averted the danger as he prodded a pass back in the direction of Neal. It was underhit but Salford’s keeper had anticipated the danger, sliding into make a great clearing challenge as Loza closed in.

Maidstone were after a leveller and on 63 minutes Ollie Muldoon’s 22-yarder from left-of-centre was headed away by Pond. The danger wasn’t over but when a cross came in from the left it was just a little bit too high for Mullings in the middle. Loza found himself in possession on the left next and he hoisted in a cross that Neal did well to punch away, under considerable pressure from the six-foot-five Mullings.

The game was by no means slipping away from Salford but that first half momentum had been been dissipated to an extent. Manager Graham Alexander responded by making a couple of changes, replacing Gaffney & Walker with Devante Rodney & Haughton.

Haughton nearly made a quick mark on the game after Lloyd’s run on the right and pass inside. The low 25-yarder that followed was hit well enough but Worgan was behind it all the way. A minute or so later Haughton took possession on halfway before setting off on a trademark weaving run that took him to the edge of the penalty area. Fortunately for Maidstone Efete had managed to get across and when the shot came in it took a clip off the defender before rolling harmlessly through to Worgan.

The Stones made a couple of changes themselves as the game entered it’s final 15 minutes but Salford’s defence was looking formidable now and there seemed to be no way through. Of course the Ammies were still striving to wrap up their points and Lloyd and Haughton combined to move the ball right for Shelton. The Salford midfielder has been known to hit the odd sweet one from distance but this time a low right-of-centre effort went a yard wide of Worgan’s right-hand upright.

Soon after that Shelton had some space on the left and used it well, playing a short pass to the advancing Haughton whose shot deflected behind off a defender.

Lloyd made way for Liam Hogan with 4 minutes to play but the Stones had nothing to lose now and began to commit more men forward. With a couple of minute left Loza launched a cross from wide on the left and Neal had to push the ball wide of the far post, under pressure from Muldoon. As the game entered time added on Hogan got up high to get in a defensive header, only for possession to fall for Jack Richards. From 22 yards out and outside the left-hand angle of the box the Maidstone substitute tried an ambitious effort on goal only to see the ball drop outside the far post.

The Ammies, with Pond and Piergianni again outstanding, saw out the remainder of 4 minutes of added time without any more scares and a 1-0 win had been secured.

FULL TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 MAIDSTONE UNITED 0

This perhaps wasn’t quite up to the standard attained on Tuesday night but it was certainly a case of ‘job done’ for Salford City. That excellent win at Mill Farm set quite a high bar but today it was important, first and foremost, to follow up with another 3 points.

That aim was achieved, and with a little more luck and perhaps a touch more composure during the first half the victory could well have been considerably more comfortable.

It is plain to see the coaching staff’s intentions this season – strong defending as a unit, a creative and imaginative midfield with plenty of creativity in the final third. It’s a plan that is steadily developing – there were some excellent passages of football this afternoon and although not everything came off the signs are very positive indeed.

The Ammies have now recorded a trio of consecutive clean sheets and that home record is beginning to look formidable, with 4 wins and 1 draw from the opening 5 games. Four points and no goals conceded in the last couple of away games suggest the corner has been turned on the road too.

Maidstone can reflect on a couple of good chances during the first half but in truth the Kent side didn’t do enough to earn a point. Even when they enjoyed more possession during the second half no route through the home defence could be found.

The hectic start to the National League campaign abates a little from this point but we have another long journey next Saturday with Bromley the destination. After those very early wobbles at Gateshead and Sutton it appears that we are up and running…

Attendance: 2,272

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