S a l f o r d
C i t y
F o o t b a l l
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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman

Rooney '80

4
Gus Mafuta

Whitehead '65

5
Liam Hogan (c)
6
Carl Piergianni
7
Matt Green

Gaffney '65

8
Lois Maynard
11
Tom Walker
Yellow card for Tom Walker
15
Devonte Redmond
20
Mani Dieseruvwe
23
Nathan Pond
Barnet
1
Mark Cousins
2
Cheye Alexander
Yellow card for Cheye Alexander
3
Elliott Johnson
4
Callum Reynolds (c)
7
Dave Tarpey

Fonguck '68

10
Shaquille Coulthirst

Robson '79

11
Dan Sparkes
16
Harry Taylor
17
Andre Boucaud
26
Dan Sweeney
27
Ephron Mason-Clark

Akinola '54

Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
9
Adam Rooney
10
Danny Lloyd
18
Danny Whitehead
30
Rory Gaffney
Substitutes
24
Aymen Azaze
6
Craig Robson
14
Simeon Akinola
18
Wes Fonguck
29
Jack Barham
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - Darren Currie
Match Officals
Referee - Leigh Doughty
Assistant Referee - Michael D'Aguilar
Assistant Referee - Paul Ince
Fourth Official - Lewis Dawson

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Match
Report

Another clean sheet for Graham Alexander’s team – the fifth in a row – but this time they couldn’t nick a winner and Barnet took a point home with them to London. The Ammies created chances, particularly in the first half and on balance probably deserved to win, but with other sides at the top out of action or stumbling this has to be seen as something of a lost opportunity. Next stop is Harrogate Town on Wednesday for a televised game that could be crucial for both team’s promotion prospects.

There was an enforced change to the line-up that had racked up four consecutive wins as Tom Walker was drafted in at left wing-back. Ibou Touray had been a National League ever-present but was unavailable, having represented The Gambia in their Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier in Algeria on Friday evening. Danny Whitehead had recovered from injury to take his place on an attacking bench, alongside Danny Lloyd, Adam Rooney and Rory Gaffney.

The Ammies have been in winning form over recent weeks but it was the lower mid-table visitors who made the better start. Barnet moved the ball around quickly and with purpose from the off. As early as the second minute Dan Sparkes made good ground on the left before aiming a cross at the near post. Barnet striker Shaquille Coulthirst got up well, but Carl Piergianni did enough to prevent a header on goal and Nathan Pond completed the clearance.

Salford’s first sniff of goal came a couple of minutes later, after Matt Green won possession following what seemed to be a blatant push on Bees’ midfielder Harry Taylor. Much to the chagrin of the Barnet bench the referee allowed play to continue and Green’s pass to the right found Mani Dieseruvwe. The big striker’s shot was blocked, but possession remained with the home side and Scott Wiseman slid a pass out to Gus Mafuta, wide on the right. A low ball inside followed and this time Dieseruvwe could only slice a twelve-yarder wide of Mark Cousin’s left-hand upright.

Not a bad chance, but generally it was Barnet who looked most threatening over the opening quarter-of-an-hour. Cheye Alexander’s long ball from the right was headed towards goal by Sparkes but it was a simple catch for Chris Neal. The keeper soon had to work a bit harder, after Barnet moved possession slickly from left to right. Dave Tarpey’s pass found Sparkes only for his shot from a tight angle to be blocked by Piergianni. Sparkes swung the subsequent left-footed corner in from the right and Neal was forced into action again, firmly punching clear.

Some anxious moments at the back for Salford, with the defensive trio of Liam Hogan, Pond and Piergianni having plenty to occupy them during the early stages of the game.

The Bees’ spell on top was drawing to a close though, and they could have gone behind with fifteen minutes played. Walker’s free-kick was scrambled clear and he picked up the loose ball on the edge of the box, right-of-centre. A gently curling left-footer went straight to Cousins, who spilled the shot before smothering the loose ball, despite Green’s attempt to get to it first.

The Barnet keeper took a knock making that save, but had recovered sufficiently to turn smartly away from the approaching Green a couple of minutes later before coolly stroking a pass forward.

Salford had buckled down to their task, pressing their opponents effectively and beginning to see much more of the ball. Dieseruvwe had a sight of goal on twenty-one minutes but from just outside the box and left-of-centre could only lift a rising effort over the East Stand roof.

Another promising attack was launched soon afterwards as Wiseman pushed forward on the right, with his cross falling beyond the far post to Walker. There were red shirts in the middle but Walker elected to loft in a cross that was plucked out of the air by Cousins.

Green was the next to threaten, cutting into the area on a right-of-centre run that was finished off by a low shot. Barnet defender Dan Sweeney instinctively stuck out a foot to block and a ball that could have dropped anywhere fell back across the goalmouth before being hurriedly punted clear.

The Bees had been quiet for a while but just before the half-hour they might well have pinched a goal as Sparkes up-and-under dropped into the Salford penalty area. Coulthirst was unattended as the ball fell nicely for him but his first-time effort was less than convincing and comfortably claimed at chest height by Neal.

Big defender Sweeney was given a torrid time during Salford’s 3-1 win at The Hive earlier this season, and he was almost caught out twelve minutes before the interval. Closed down by Green & Dieseruvwe just outside his own area, Sweeney just about managed to guide a pass back to Cousins who got in a no-nonsense clearance.

Half-chances for both sides so far but Salford went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the thirty-seventh minute. Recent signing Redmond notched the winner last week at Aldershot and his shot from the edge of the area and just left-of-centre beat Cousins’ dive. Luck was against The Ammies on this occasion as the ball clipped low off the inside of the keeper’s right-hand post before spinning back across the face of goal to be nudged out for a corner by Andre Boucaud.

The woodwork would thwart Salford again before half-time as they cranked up the pressure on Cousins’ goal. Skipper Hogan joined the attacking effort and did well to get into the box before working a pass through to Gus Mafuta who’s powerfully struck effort was bravely charged down by Taylor.

Five minutes before half-time a Redmond free-kick was only partially cleared with Maynard stretching to get in a fifteen-yard volley that clipped off the top of the bar and out of play.

So close again for The Ammies and they put together another decent attack a couple of minutes before the interval. Walker swapped passes with Redmond wide on the left before heading for the line and cutting inside. A low ball aimed for the middle took a deflection before dropping beyond the far post where Elliott Johnson pushed it out for a corner.

The set-piece came to nothing and as the teams left the field for half-time Salford City could count themselves unlucky not to be ahead.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 BARNET 0

The momentum Salford had built towards half-time hadn’t produced a goal and the start to the second half would be low-key. Neither side could carve out a scoring opportunity for a while and Barnet boss Darren Currie replaced the quiet Ephron Mason-Clarke with Simeon Akinola eight minutes after the restart.

The substitute might have had a goal a few minutes after coming on but Coulthirst’s cross from the left dropped just over his head and out of play.

A modest bit of attacking play, but it was the best the second half had produced by the time the hour mark arrived. Barnet would be the side to relieve that barren spell with a neat bit of sixty-first minute play. Taylor did well to win possession from Mafuta just outside the Salford penalty area then even better when grounded to poke a short pass forward to Coulthirst. A neat turn was followed by a powerfully struck rising shot, with Neal reacting superbly to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Soon after that Taylor’s prodded effort was cleared by Hogan and with The Bees looking to pick up the initiative, Salford manager Alexander made a couple of changes. Whitehead came on for Mafuta with Gaffney replacing Green and the home side were soon on the front foot. Gaffney almost announced his arrival in dramatic style after Hogan’s throw-in from the right was flicked on by Maynard at the near post. The ball dropped for the Irishman, six-or-so yards out but his contact wasn’t great, allowing Cousins to make a routine save.

With twenty minutes to play Piergianni was inches away from getting his head to Redmond’s deep free-kick from the left and the dropping ball bounced just outside Cousins’ left-hand post without getting a touch from Hogan.

The Ammies couldn’t build on those chances as Barnet defended effectively in numbers when they needed to. The visitors always looked to hit on the break and in the seventy-sixth minute Johnson’s delivery from the left found Akinola’s head only for Piergianni to get himself in the way.

Adam Rooney came on for Wiseman with eleven minutes left and it was obvious Salford were determined to clinch what would be their fifth successive win. It was Barnet who had the next chance though as Akinola – who had looked lively since coming on – chased a long ball to the right-hand side corner flag. He appeared to be blocked in yet managed to slip past Pond and cut towards goal along the line. Neal got a touch on the attempt to play a ball inside and Hogan was there to knock behind for a corner as blue shirts closed in.

Salford certainly couldn’t afford to lose concentration at the back and just a couple of minutes later Bees’ substitute Wes Fonguck’s low shot from inside the left-hand angle of the box was saved and held by Neal.

The Ammies did their best to apply pressure as the final whistle approached, with Walker winning a free-kick after being fouled by Alexander. Redmond stood over the free-kick, tight to the goal-line on the left and Cousins was forced to punch out his delivery. Barnet struggled to clear, and Pond’s flick-on header was cleared by a robust header from Sweeney.

There would be three minutes of time to be added on but neither side could conjure anything up and Salford’s first goalless home league game since November 2016 was over.

FULL TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 BARNET 0

The run of four successive wins that has revitalised Salford’s promotion challenge was been built on solid defending as a team unit – that quartet of clean sheets is certainly no fluke. If you could record one concern from those games, it would be the low conversion rate of chances. Today the defence was solid again, but the vital goal wouldn’t come.

Had those two first-half strikes of the woodwork gone in, the story would have been much different. On the other hand, Barnet tested Neal as well and, on another day, could have gone home with all three points themselves.

It’s a valuable point, of course, but with Solihull Moors and Wrexham both losing today, all three would have pushed the Ammies into the top three for the first time in two months.

Automatic promotion is very much Orient’s to lose, but the teams at the top have endured disappointing runs so far and all is very much still to play for.

Games against Harrogate Town have generally been high-stake, and we have another on one Wednesday in the televised game at their place. On Saturday, mid-table Bromley are The visitors to The Peninsula Stadium...getting exciting, isn't it?

Attendance: 2,452 (171 Barnet)

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