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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
Yellow card for Chris Neal
3
Ibou Touray
Yellow card for Ibou Touray
4
Oscar Threlkeld
5
Liam Hogan (c)
9
Adam Rooney

Armstrong 75'

15
Cameron Burgess
17
Richie Towell
1 goals for Richie Towell
25
Joey Jones
Yellow card for Joey Jones

Whitehead 59'

28
Brandon Thomas-Asante
1 goals for Brandon Thomas-Asante

Piergianni 79'

32
Jake Jervis
44
Craig Conway
Crewe Alexandra
1
Will Jaaskelainen
2
Perry Ng (c)
3
Harry Pickering
1 goals for Harry Pickering
4
Ryan Wintle
7
Daniel Powell
Yellow card for Daniel Powell
10
Charlie Kirk

Dale 65'

14
Oli Finney

Ainley 65'

15
Nicky Hunt
16
Tommy Lowery
17
Chuma Anene
30
Christian Mbula

Jones 46'

Substitutes
12
Kyle Letheren
6
Carl Piergianni
7
Luke Armstrong
8
Lois Maynard
10
Danny Lloyd
18
Danny Whitehead
Substitutes
13
David Richards
8
James Jones
11
Callum Ainley
19
Owen Dale
22
Billy Sass-Davies
23
Travis Johnson
25
Rio Adebisi
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - David Artell
Match Officals
Referee - Peter Wright
Assistant Referee - Ian Dudley
Assistant Referee - Christopher Ward
Fourth Official - Richard Aspinall

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Match
Report

Salford City produced a festive treat for their supporters, overcoming high-flying Crewe Alexandra at The Peninsula Stadium. Early goals from Richie Towell and Brandon Asante put the Ammies in control, with the visitors never able to fully recover from that double setback. A first home league win since Cambridge United were beaten on 12th October and Graham Alexander’s side are now back in the top half of the League Two table.

There were a couple of changes from the side that did well to bring a point home from Bradford last Saturday. In midfield Joey Jones replaced Lois Maynard whilst up front Adam Rooney was back in, at the expense of Luke Armstrong.

A boisterous crowd had assembled in the Boxing Day rain and as you might expect from a top-three side, Crewe made a confident start. Their passing game was in evidence early on, but it would be the Ammies who took the game by the scruff of its neck.

Even so, the first opening went Crewe’s way as Christian Mbulu met a corner from the right, only to glance wide of the target.

Football at its best is a simple game, and Salford’s first goal would be a beauty. In the 7th minute Jake Jervis passed inside from the left, with midfielder TOWELL weighing his options. The Irishman is no stranger to the spectacular and he added to his collection here, driving a ferocious shot from outside the box that gave Will Jaaskelainen no chance as it flashed inside his left-hand post.

Towell had another go just a couple of minutes later, advancing diagonally on a right of centre run. Space opened up in front of him but this time the finish wasn’t as impressive as a low effort cleared the far post by a couple of yards.

Crewe’s next attack of note came when skipper Perry Ng’s forward pass found Oli Finney, who moved possession on for Charlie Kirk on the left. A driven low delivery across the box followed, but it was a Salford foot that made contact, conceding a corner beyond the far post.

That corner was cleared, only for the ball to drop temptingly for Eddie Nolan, centrally positioned and just outside the box. With a defender closing in Nolan tried a volley and could only watch in dismay as the effort soared high over Neal’s crossbar.

Quite an even start in terms of attacking possession yet Salford were able to double their advantage with a dozen minutes on the clock. A ball into the Crewe penalty area was picked up by ASANTE, and he was strong enough to hold off the considerable presence of Mbulu. With a little space to work in Asante kept his cool, rolling a low finish to Jaaskelainen’s right to record his first Salford City goal.

A dream start for the Ammies, but they picked up the first of 3 yellow cards soon after as Joey Jones’ name went into the referee’s notebook following an over robust challenge on Harry Pickering.

Both of the sides were capable of producing a goal threat and in the 25th minute Crewe could have got themselves back into the game. Ryan Wintle’s advance through the middle was finished off by a neat pass to the lively Kirk, on the left. A cut inside was followed by a shot that was blocked and when the loose ball fell for Pickering, he could only blaze over the bar from an angle.

Towell was involved in most of Salford’s more promising moments and he tested Jaaskelainen again just before the half-hour. After collecting a pass from the left the former Brighton midfielder hit a 22-yarder that spun off the wet turf, then the keeper’s chest before finally being cleared. He had another go a couple of minutes later taking a short pass from Craig Conway. There were gold shirts aplenty in front of him, so after jockeying for position Towell lifted a lob over the crowd but into the arms of Jaaskelainen.

The Railwaymen had quite a lot of possession during the run-up to half time and the home side were forced to concentrate on their defensive duties. They did a good job, repelling everything that the visitors could chuck their way and successfully protecting Neal’s goal.

The referee took centre stage during the half’s final 5 minutes, first booking Neal for timewasting and then a clearly baffled Touray, apparently for the same offence. Graham Alexander followed his players into the book, presumably for comments made to the fourth official and Crewe’s Daniel Powell was yellow-carded for a foul on Asante.

With all that going on before and during 5 minutes of time added on there was little opportunity to play and football, although Joey Jones had a 25-yarder deflected wide of Jaaskelainen’s left-hand upright.

Just before the whistle Conway’s free-kick from wide on the left was punched clear by the under-ressure Crewe keeper, with Salford taking a two-goal advantage into the interval.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 2 CREWE ALEXANDRA 0

Crewe manager David Artell made a change at the break, replacing Mbulu with James Jones and his side were soon looking for a goal. Four minutes after the restart Powell squared a ball to the left for Kirk to try a curling effort that dropped just wide of the far post.

The game opened up again, with Crewe looking to build attacks and Salford poised to hit on the break when the chance arose. The Ammies could have effectively pushed the game beyond Crewe’s reach in the 54th minute after Towell nudged a pass to Oscar Threlkeld whose cross from deep on the right was aimed at the near post. Rooney was on the end of it, but from the edge of the 6-yard box could only direct a header straight at Jaaskelainen who was able to save and hold onto the ball.

A good chance, and the action switched to the school end as Kirk attacked the line on the left. A low ball to the near post started off a scramble with the Ammies just about clearing their defensive lines. It was Salford’s turn next, as Asante hit a shot from distance, with the ball bouncing through to Jaaskelainen.

Danny Whithead replaced Joey Jones with half-an-hour to play and Crewe made a double change 5 minutes later as Callum Ainley and Owen Dale came on for Finney and Kirk.

Salford had done a good job of defending that two-goal cushion, looking composed at the back as they soaked up Crewe’s pressure without Neal being tested too seriously. That relatively comfortable situation wouldn’t last but Conway had a chance for the home side, cutting inside from the left before hitting a shot wide of the target.

Crewe started to crank up the pressure as the game entered its closing stages as Pickering tried his luck with a driven effort that Neal pushed behind for a corner. Soon after that Pickering, Dale & Ainley combined to work a pass into the right-hand side of the box. Ng was on the end it and slammed in a rising effort that Neal somehow managed to tip onto the bar. A great save from the home keeper, and he would have more work to do before the afternoon came to an end.

Powell was denied after Ng’s cross from the right had found its way through to him. There was some power behind the left-of-centre 12-yarder but Neal was equal to it, pushing the ball around his right-hand upright. Next up was Dale who met a cross from the left on the edge of the 6-yard box, glancing a header wide of the far post.

Crewe were knocking at the door and came close again 9 minutes from time. Dale touched down a cross from the left, with Chuma Anene volleying goalwards from 7 yards after a neat touch to tee himself up. Neal came to the rescue once more with another fine save, getting enough of a touch to push the ball wide of his left-hand post.

It seemed as if a goal was coming and the Railwaymen halved Salford’s lead with 8 minutes left. Another crisp build-up was finished off in style as PICKERING crashed in a sweet strike from outside the box that beat Neal at his left-hand post.

Interesting, or perhaps worrying, depending upon your perspective and it seemed as if Crewe would now lay siege to the home goal during the time that remained.

The game twisted back in Salford’s favour after Alex substitute James Jones square ball inside from the right was intercepted by Jervis. The winger’s run took him to the right-hand angle of the box where he hit a shot that was deflected behind for a corner. Conway delivered the set-piece, with the ball dropping into the 6-yard box, then coming off Crewe defender Wintle and rolling into the net.

Two-goal lead restored and the Ammies could breathe a little easier during the scant time that remained. Crewe kept going but there last chance came deep into time added on after Dale’s left-footed cross from the right clipped off a Salford head then off the far post before Neal finally managed to smother the danger.

A fitting end to a frustrating afternoon from Crewe’s point of view, but the home fans were celebrating as the referee’s whistle brought an entertaining game to its conclusion.

FULL-TIME: SALFORD CITY 3 CREWE ALEXANDRA 1

A welcome return to winning ways for Salford City, who collected their first 3-point haul since winning at Newport County on 2nd November. It’s also the first time the Ammies have scored 3 times during a home EFL League two fixture and that will especially please manager Graham Alexander.

That good start was, obviously enough, the key to today’s victory. Crewe were forced to chase the game from very early on and it was really only during the final 15 minutes that they threatened to grab a share of the spoils.

Way back in September Salford came to grief at Gresty Road, losing 4-1 after leading at the break. Today they looked a much more solid outfit, taking on one of the best teams that this division can offer.

There were plenty of very good performances today, but a special mention is due for Brandon Asante. The former MK Dons striker has forced his way into contention over recent weeks, with strong, creative showings and it’s good to see get his first goal for the club. At the other end of the pitch Chris Neal had a fairly quiet first half yet stepped up to the plate during the second, pulling off a string of impressive saves.

Respect everyone in this league, but fear nobody – these 3 points leaves the Ammies in 11th place, just 7 points short of a play-off place. The halfway point of the season has been reached – consistency during the second half could well provide another promotion challenge…

Attendance: 3,031 (1,192 Crewe)

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