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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)
1 goals for Adam Rooney (c)

Rodney '85

10
Danny Lloyd
1 goals for Danny Lloyd

Maynard '85

11
Tom Walker
1 goals for Tom Walker

Hogan '77

18
Danny Whitehead
19
Mark Shelton
23
Nathan Pond
30
Rory Gaffney
Hartlepool United
1
Scott Loach
3
Mark Kitching
5
Carl Magnay
6
Liam Noble
10
Niko Muir

Dinanga '18

15
Andrew Davies (c)
16
Nicky Featherstone
17
Myles Anderson
24
Conor Newton

Woods '72

26
Paddy McLaughlin
33
Luke James
Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
5
Liam Hogan
Yellow card for Liam Hogan
7
Nick Haughton
8
Lois Maynard
21
Devante Rodney
Substitutes
8
Lewis Hawkins
11
Josh Hawkes
14
Michael Woods
19
Kenton Richardson
31
Marcus Dinanga
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - Matt Bates
Match Officals
Referee - Marc Edwards
Assistant Referee - Scott Taylor
Assistant Referee - Paul Ince
Fourth Official - Akeel Ahmed

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Match
Report

This impressive victory takes Salford City into second place in the National League, just two points behind unbeaten leaders Leyton Orient. In fairness the 3-0 score-line doesn’t quite reflect a game that was largely even until Danny Lloyd’s opener, but the Ammies’ clinical finishing proved to be the difference. Adam Rooney & Tom Walker scored the other goals and Graham Alexander’s in-form side have now gone 10 games unbeaten with the last 5 of those won.

Unsurprisingly there were no changes to the 16-man squad who saw off Boreham Wood at the weekend and the game started off at a pace that was almost frantic. It was end-to-end stuff over the opening minutes although both defences seemed to be up for it from the start. The first sniff of a chance came in the 7th minute when Pools’ Luke James got into the area on a left-of-centre run only to be denied by a beautifully timed challenge from Nathan Pond. The corner was cleared but another followed and the ball was diverted towards goal only to be blocked almost on the line by a red-shirted defender.

There were injury concerns for both sides after that with Salford’s Danny Lloyd and Hartlepool’s Nico Muir down and requiring treatment. Lloyd would recover to play a key role in the game but it was less pleasant news for Muir who had to be replaced by Marcus Dinanga.

The furious early pace had abated a little and Salford in particular were beginning to play some good football. Hartlepool’s defence was looking solid though and for a while opportunities would be rare. The Ammies had little more to show for a decent spell than a couple of corners but they went close to taking the lead on 28 minutes.

The build-up was pretty sublime as Danny Whitehead floated an inch-perfect cross-field pass to the left, allowing Lloyd to advance without breaking stride. A check back was followed by a pass to Ibou Touray and the full-back's cross was cleared, falling to Walker. From almost 35 yards the Ammies’ winger unleashed a thunderbolt that looked destined for the back of the net until Hartlepool keeper Scott Loach instinctively extended a strong arm to push the shot onto the bar and behind. A great save from a keeper who picked up 14 England Under-21 caps during his time with Watford.

Walker delivered the corner himself, from the left but, Carl Piergianni’s header dropped harmlessly beyond the far post.

It was Lloyd’s turn to provide the ammunition on the half-hour and another strong run ended with a good cross from the left. Gaffney got ahead of Andrew Davies but could only plant a 10-yard header straight at Loach.

So close for Salford but Pools had a great chance to edge ahead themselves 11 minutes before the break. A quick attack on the right ended with a nice pull-back from Conor Newton but from just outside the 6-yard box and centrally positioned, Paddy McLaughlin somehow managed to lift a shot high over the bar.

That should have been a goal but within another couple of minutes Salford – and Walker – were denied by the woodwork again. A darting run took the former FC United man to the line on the right, then he jinked back out past a couple of challenges before hitting a rising left-footer. This time Loach was beaten but fortune frowned on Salford again as the ball smacked off the front of the crossbar and back into play.

It had been an entertaining first half and its final effort of note came, like the first, from Hartlepool. Liam Noble’s corner from the left was cleared and Carl Magnay hit a low effort from 25-yards that skidded off the turf inside the 6-yard box. Chris Neal couldn’t hold onto it but reacted quickly to smother the loose ball as visiting strikers closed in.

HALF TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 0

Walker almost managed to fashion a chance within 2 minutes of the restart only to be closed down by the visiting defence. After that Hartlepool would have a spell on top and Noble’s lofted ball forward almost dropped for James only for Neal to advance and punt clear.

In the 50th minute substitute Dinanga spun on the edge of the penalty area but could only lift his shot over the crossbar. Soon after that Dinanga was played into space on the right-hand side of the box but was stretching when he sent an effort high and wide. Pools won another corner and skipper Davies got up high to reach McLaughlin’s delivery from the left only to direct a header wide of the far post.

Reasons to be cheerful for the near 600 away following but it would soon be 1-2-3 for Salford City.

The Ammies emerged from that sticky spell to take a grip on the game. Just past the hour Touray whipped in a low free-kick from the left and Davies had to stretch full-length to prevent the ball getting through to Gaffney. Another crisp bit of approach play saw Walker cut in from the right before feeding a ball through to Rooney on the edge of the box. Salford’s leading scorer didn’t quite have his sights set just yet and his 18-yarder flew high over Loach’s crossbar.

He would do better a bit later but for now the pressure on Hartlepool’s goal was growing. Touray got across to win a crunching challenge with Newton on Salford’s left, forcing a pass along the flank for Lloyd to chase. The winger’s cross was over-hit but the ball stayed in play on the far side with Scott Wiseman and Walker combining to work the ball through to Whitehead. The cross was a teaser and it was LLOYD who got there first inside the back post, diving to send a close-range header across Loach and into the net.

A first goal of the season from open play for the summer signing from Peterborough and there may well be many more to come.

Pools looked to respond quickly and Nicky Featherstone nicked possession from Walker inside Salford’s half before advancing on goal. This was a decent chance for the visitors but from a central position the Hartlepool midfielder couldn’t keep his 18-yarder down.

The Ammies had drawn first blood and were soon after more. Gaffney headed on a dropping long ball in the 68th minute and Lloyd was away on a left-of-centre run. Loach was off his line quickly, spreading himself to stop a powerfully struck effort that seemed to deflect behind off the keeper’s head. Loach recovered but there was more bad news for him as ROONEY got in to thump an unstoppable close-range header to make the score 2-0.

Hartlepool had been on a good run of form themselves and manager Matthew Bates made a change in an effort to salvage something from the game. Michael Woods came on for Newton but within a couple more minutes Salford had made the game safe. Lloyd’s deft touch sent Gaffney away on the left and he got in a low cross that evaded Loach and a defender, leaving WALKER with a simple task to roll the ball home from a few yards out.

That was game over and Walker, with 4 goals in 5 games, received an ovation as he was replaced by Liam Hogan.

There would be more chances for the Ammies and with 10 minutes left Gaffney turned smartly on the edge offine the area before scooping a shot high over the bar. At the other end Hartlepool finished off a spell of possession with a McLaughlin pass to the right that picked out Noble’s advance. The midfielder had time to weigh up his shot yet despite a degree of deliberation could only place an effort high and wide of Neal’s left-hand post. Minutes later Woods had the ball in the net for Hartlepool but by the time his neat chip dropped in the assistant’s flag had been raised for several seconds.

It was all over bar the shouting and the Ammies replaced Rooney & Lloyd with Lois Maynard & Devante Rodney with 5 minutes to play. Mark Shelton scored something of a screamer last Saturday and fancied his chances from 22 yards and left-of-centre this evening. His low effort was well struck but the direction wasn’t quite right and the ball flashed wide of Loach’s right-hand post.

Shelton converted Gaffney’s cross from the left with 3 minutes left but the ball had gone out for a goal-kick before the delivery came in.

A Noble free-kick deep into time added on dropped wide of the target and Salford had 3 goals, 3 points and a 5th clean sheet in the last half-dozen games.

SALFORD CITY 3 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 0

A 5th win on the trot for Salford City and they are now demonstrating their promotion credentials in no uncertain terms. Six points from two home games against sides who should be contenders at the business end of the season represents a satisfying and encouraging return.

It seems that attacking feet have been found following a relatively slow start in that respect and 5 clean sheets from 6 games is a fine achievement at this level of the game.

A good blend of experience, flair and quality, this Ammie side looks set for a serious bid for what would be 4th promotion in 5 years.

Hartlepool, as you might expect, provided a real challenge and there wasn’t much to choose between the two sides at half-time. Once Lloyd had put Salford ahead however there was always a feeling that the home side could click up a gear or two if required.

Another great Peninsula Stadium night, on the pitch at least. Unfortunately, a small minority of the travelling support decided to express their disappointment by launching an attack on the main entrance to the North Stand. Police had to be called to deal with the least savoury scenes ever witnessed at Salford City. The trouble was quelled but these individuals are a stain on the reputation of their club and the game, as well as the 500 plus who travelled down to support their team in the proper fashion. They should be ashamed, but almost certainly are now.

Hopefully back to the football from now on...it's pretty good just now...

Attendance: 2,420 (558 from Hartlepool)

https://salfordcityfc.co.uk