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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
6
Carl Piergianni
Yellow card for Carl Piergianni
7
Matt Green

Lloyd '65

11
Tom Walker
18
Danny Whitehead
Yellow card for Danny Whitehead
22
Dennis Politic
1 goals for Dennis Politic

Dieseruvwe '79

23
Nathan Pond (c)
24
Amine Linganzi

Maynard '46

30
Rory Gaffney
Dover Athletic
1
Mitch Walker
5
Kevin Lokko
10
Jamie Allen

Nortey '90

12
Inih Effiong

Pavey '81

20
Danny McNamara
1 goals for Danny McNamara Yellow card for Danny McNamara
21
Ricky Modeste

Jeffrey '65

23
Bedsente Gomis
26
Scott Doe
1 goals for Scott Doe
27
Stuart Lewis (c)
29
Bobby-Joe Taylor
Yellow card for Bobby-Joe Taylor
30
Jai Reason
1 goals for Jai Reason
Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
5
Liam Hogan
8
Lois Maynard
10
Danny Lloyd
20
Mani Dieseruvwe
Substitutes
31
Lee Worgan
4
Moussa Diarra
7
Anthony Jeffrey
14
Alfie Pavey
18
Nortei Nortey
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - Andy Hessenthaler
Match Officals
Referee - Declan Bourne
Assistant Referee - Andrew Dallison
Assistant Referee - Jonathan Maskrey
Fourth Official - Jon Kenny

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Match
Report

Another disappointing afternoon for The Ammies as Dover Athletic overcame an early deficit to run out 3-1 winners at The Peninsula Stadium. Not the first time that Salford have failed to build on a perfect start to their afternoon, but with games running out and the pack closing in, it could do with being the last. A spectacular long-distance lob from Dennis Politic seemed to have set Graham Alexander’s men on their way to a first league win at home since New Year’s Day. Andy Hessenthaler’s Dover had other ideas, grafting their way to an equaliser before half-time the notching a couple more after the break.

There was a change in formation and personnel from the side that started last Saturday’s defeat at basement side Braintree Town. Gone was the 5-3-2, to be replaced by a 4-4-2 so that meant back to the bench for Liam Hogan. With Joe Muscatt back at Bolton, there was a return to the starting XI for Tom Walker and also on the bench today was Lois Maynard – involved for the first time since suffering injury during the home win over Harrogate at the end of November. Amine Linganzi was handed his first league start since signing for the club a couple of weeks ago.

With new co-owner David Beckham in attendance, a good crowd had assembled on a pleasant afternoon but the clouds – both figurative and physical – wouldn’t take long to gather.

The Ammies were on the attack straight away and almost opened the scoring within the game’s 1st minute. A Politic corner from the left was cleared and Danny Whitehead slammed in a low effort from about 20 yards out. The shot may well have beaten Mitch Walker in the Dover goal but Bedsente Gomis had positioned himself to the keeper’s left and was able to clear from inside the 6-yard box. Politic had a go himself soon after that but his effort from the edge of the area cleared the bar by some distance.

Salford were working hard to close down their opponents, with Bobby-Joe Taylor’s clearance being charged down by Matt Green. For a second it looked as if the former Lincoln City striker would have a run on goal, but Mitch Walker had advanced to cover and was on hand to clear long.

Plenty of early pressure for Dover to contend with and they almost conceded in the 6th minute. Tom Walker swung a corner, left-footed from the right, into the area and Nathan Pond’s glancing header from 6 yards out dropped just wide of the far post.

The Ammies needed to take advantage of this powerful start and deserved the lead they took in the 9th minute. Mitch Walker was pressured in possession and his clearance fell towards POLITIC, a good 45 yards out and right-of-centre. There seemed to be little real danger for Dover but the Bolton loanee’s first time effort soared high above the frantically back-pedalling Mitch Walker and dropped just under the crossbar before the keeper could get there.

A fantastic strike from a very talented young man and Salford – good value for their lead – could have had another within a couple more minutes. Politic was involved again, lofting a ball to the left-hand side of the box where Tom Walker’s shot was deflected wide for a corner. The delivery dropped into the area and an almighty scramble started, just in front of goal. It looked as if Carl Piergianni might nod home from close range, only for the dropping ball to be hacked away by Scott Doe from just in front of the line.

A great start that had yielded a goal, but there were signs that Dover were finding their feet. Even so there was a half-chance for The Ammies in the 18th minute after a defender stooped to head away Politic’s corner from the left. The ball dropped for Whitehead inside the area and his powerfully struck shot crashed into Doe, with Dover managing to clear their lines. In fact, the visitors launched a counter-attack and Whitehead’s foul brought the developing move to an early end as well as earning him a yellow card.

All was still going well for Salford, but their best spell of the game was already behind them. The energy and creativity that had marked the game’s opening quarter was noticeably on the wane, with Dover’s first real effort on goal coming in the 23rd minute. Gomis did well to work a yard of space for himself outside the area but could only drag a low effort harmlessly wide of Neal’s left-hand upright.

Not much of a chance for the visitors, but within another minute they were on level terms. Jai Reason advanced before flicking a pass out to the left for Inih Effiong. The big striker cut inside before hitting a rasping shot that Neal managed to push away to the far side, but luck was against him. Possession fell nicely for DANNY McNAMARA who kept his cool to steer a low shot into keeper’s bottom right-hand corner.

Suddenly it was Dover doing the majority of the pressing and Effiong curled a free-kick around the defensive wall and just wide of the target. Salford had to do more defending after that, with Carl Piergianni forced to head clear a couple of set-pieces.

The Ammies almost had some joy from a set-piece of their own as Tom Walker’s corner from the right dropped just beyond the far post. Linganzi rose high to meet it but could only get in a header that dropped narrowly over the crossbar.

For Dover, central defender Kevin Lokko’s 30-yard rising effort cleared the crossbar by a foot or so. At the other end Scott Wiseman & Rory Gaffney combined before Politic’s shot flew high and wide of Mitch Walker’s right-hand angle of post and bar.

That was it for a 1st half that had started off in fine style for Salford, yet ended with the teams going in all square.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 DOVER ATHLETIC 1

There was a change for Salford at the break with Maynard replacing Linganzi and both sides went in search of a goal that would put them ahead. A number of set-pieces were forced, but the respective defences managed to deal with everything that was thrown, or kicked, their way.

That would soon change and In the 56th minute Dover won a free-kick on the right, with Taylor delivering for Lokko to head wide of the target. A warning for the Ammies, but they failed to heed it and fell behind just before the hour. Again Taylor was the provider, lining up a cross from the right and it was a very good one indeed. DOE got onto the end of it and Neal had no chance as the defender powered in a header that beat him to his left.

The tide had certainly turned now, and Salford needed to find a quick response. They nearly did as Piergianni rose to meet Tom Walker’s corner from the left only for his downward header to be scooped up by Mitch Walker. Soon after that Gaffney nodded down for Tom Walker, but his shot lacked venom and again Mitch Walker was able to make a straightforward save.

Both sides made a change with 25 minutes left with Danny Lloyd replacing Green for Salford while for Dover Anthony Jeffrey came on for Ricky Modeste.

There was a handball shout for Salford as a ball into the box bounced up, to apparently be handled by a Dover defender. Home players and crowd rose as one to demand a penalty, but they would be disappointed as the referee remained unmoved.

In the 70th minute Lloyd did well, getting to the line on the left before being bundled over. Walker took the free-kick and the delivery seemed to be heading for Pond until Effiong got there to nod the ball away.

Some attacking activity for the home support to cheer but Mitch Walker wasn’t being tested and time was beginning to run out. McNamara was booked for taking an age with a throw-in as Dover looked to hang on to their advantage, but the next chance would go their way. Gomis hammered in a shot that Neal did well to save and as Salford looked to break Doe was booked for a cynical foul on Politic. It’s called “taking one for the team” but the consequences for Politic could be serious as he had to retire with what looked like a recurrence of that recent shoulder injury.

Mani Dieseruvwe came on to replace the stricken Salford midfielder but the home side’s hopes of rescuing a point took a severe jolt 9 minutes from time. From left-of-centre and the best part of 25-yards out REASON let fly with a beautifully judged shot that beat Neal on its way inside the far post.

If felt like ‘game over’ and The Ammies were reeling. They could have conceded again very quickly as Jeffrey skipped past Wiseman on a left-of-centre run that took him into the penalty area. It was a great chance for number 4 but Neal wasn’t to be tested as the Dover substitute lifted his 15-yarder over the crossbar.

Salford pushed forward during the time that remained – there was little else for them to do – but Dover were in no mood to give anything away. In the last minute of the 90 Tom Walker was unlucky, rising to crash a header against the face of the bar. He had no better fortune in the 3rd minute of time added on drilling in a low 20-yarder that McNamara sprawled to block on the edge of the 6-yard box.

FULL-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 DOVER ATHLETIC 3

Just a touch over four months ago Salford City ran out convincing 4-1 winners at Dover’s Crabble home, cementing their hold on top-spot and leaving Dover rooted to the bottom of the league. Few of the Salford supporters present that day would have expected the return game to end in a Dover victory, but we face that very situation this evening. Manager Andy Hessenthaler has revived the Kent side’s fortunes, but even so they arrived in Salford today on the back of 4 league games without a win.

We have pondered before why The Ammies often struggle to take full advantage of a good start, and once again this afternoon impressive early form petered out far too early. Dover were under the cosh for the first 25 minutes or so but when Salford’s grip on the game started to loosen, the visitors grew into the match. In the end, it would be hard to deny that Dover deserved their win, simply because they took their chances.

One bright spot was the performance of Politic, and his remarkable goal would have had watching co-owner David Beckham casting his mind back a similar strike of his own, scored 22 years ago. We can only hope that the injury isn't too bad and that Dennis will be back to action sooner, rather than later.

Once again, results elsewhere weren’t as bad as they could have been and after 2 wins in 10 league games Salford City are still only 7 points shy of the division’s top spot. On the other side of the coin, they now sit only 2 points ahead of the highest placed side outside the play-off position – next week’s opponents, Eastleigh.

It seems that most recent weeks have seen a call for the team to find a response to adverse results and we are now at the point where they really need to do it. Hesitation and sloppiness needs to be replaced by energetic, direct football of the type that took us the division’s summit.

The gauntlet is down, lads and we're right behind you...

Attendance: 2,498 (including @120 from Dover)

https://salfordcityfc.co.uk