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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
9
Adam Rooney (c)
10
Danny Lloyd

Rodney '89

11
Tom Walker

Politic '69

18
Danny Whitehead
19
Mark Shelton
23
Nathan Pond
30
Rory Gaffney
1 goals for Rory Gaffney
Ebbsfleet United
1
Nathan Ashmore
3
Sam Magri
Yellow card for Sam Magri
5
Dave Winfield (c)
6
Kenny Clark
9
Danny Kedwell
10
Andy Drury
11
Miles Weston
15
Luke Coulson

McQueen '85

16
Jack Payne
18
Corey Whitely
1 goals for Corey Whitely

Shields '80

19
Chris Bush
Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
5
Liam Hogan
8
Lois Maynard
21
Devante Rodney
22
Dennis Politic
Substitutes
13
Jonathan Myles
8
Ebou Adams
14
Darren McQueen
17
Sean Shields
23
Lawrie Wilson
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - Daryl McMahon
Match Officals
Referee - James Oldham
Assistant Referee - Nicholas Hawksby
Assistant Referee - Matthew Sowerby
Fourth Official - Alan Bennett

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Match
Report

Salford City’s stint as National League leaders is over – for the time being, at least – after Ebbsfleet United grafted their way to a draw at The Peninsula Stadium. For the second home game in succession the Ammies took just a single point from an uneven performance and it is Leyton Orient who now occupy the apex of the non-league game. Fleet went ahead courtesy of a fine strike from Corey Whitley but although Rory Gaffney equalised within 3 minutes, Graham Alexander’s side couldn’t force a winner.

The first genuinely cold afternoon of the season saw some enterprising football early on and Salford were the first to put together a dangerous attack. Mark Shelton’s pass sent Scott Wiseman on his way, wide on the right and he cut the ball back into Danny Whitehead’s path. The cross was decent but just evaded Rory Gaffney’s attempt to make contact in front of goal.

At the other end Fleet’s Sam Magri advanced on the right before delivering a cross to the near corner of the 6-yard box. Burly striker Danny Kedwell has over 200 career goals to his credit and despite being tightly marked he almost got another one here. The big number 9 stooped to get in a header that bounced up, forcing Salford keeper Chris Neal to tip the ball over for a corner.

The visitors continued to press and Luke Coulson’s harmless looking low effort from outside the box was fumbled by Neal, with the ball rolling wide of his left-hand post. It could have been a costly error too, as Fleet skipper Dave Winfield got up highest to meet Coulson’s corner from the right. Neal was well beaten by the header when it came in, but fortune was with him as the ball came crashing back off the crossbar.

A good little spell for Ebbsfleet but the Ammies shook off those scares and started to play their passing style of football. With a dozen minutes on the clock a burst of pace took Tom Walker past a defender wide on the right, then old-fashioned winger’s trickery got him away from a second inside the box. The cut-back that followed was dangerous but there was no red shirt near enough to take advantage, allowing Ebbsfleet to clear their lines.

Salford were getting into their stride and Shelton lined up a left-of-centre effort from outside the penalty area. We know he can hit the target from that sort of range but an unfortunately timed slip resulted in a low effort that rolled innocuously through to Nathan Ashmore in the Fleet goal.

The pressure on Ebbsfleet’s goal persisted with Danny Lloyd finding space on the left before whipping a great cross towards the far post. Salford’s leading scorer Adam Rooney was on the end of it and his sliding effort crept past the considerable form of Ashmore. Such an eventuality had been covered and Kenny Clark was on hand just in front of the line to punt clear.

There was danger for the Fleet from the other flank soon after as Walker’s low cross from the right found its way into the box. Gaffney got there before Ashmore but his attempt to nudge in an angled finish was thwarted by the keeper at his near post.

Magri was booked for a blatant block on Lloyd, but largely speaking Fleet were restricting the home side to half-chances and efforts from distance. Things had been quiet for Neal since the opening exchanges but he had a moment of concern in the 20th minute. Whitely broke forward and when the ball fell for Jack Payne his deflected shot from outside the box had to be gathered by the initially wrong-footed keeper.

Salford were on top but were still searching for that little bit of penalty area quality required to break down well organised and determined opponents. Walker cut inside from the right in the 21st minute but from 25 yards out could only lash an effort high over the target. Ashmore was beaten midway through the first half as Rooney finished clinically following Gaffney’s header, but the offside flag brought home celebrations to a muted end.

Undeterred, Salford continued to hunt for a breakthrough and Lloyd’s pass out to the right was collected by Walker. A square ball inside found Danny Whitehead and at first it seemed as if his pacey, rising 25-yarder was heading for the top corner. Ashmore had other ideas, making it look easy as he moved to the right then plucked the ball out of the air.

The same combination produced another chance on the half-hour as Walker passed to Whitehead whose low effort from a few yards closer clipped off a defender before rolling through to Ashmore.

There was a break in play as Nathan Pond received treatment, and the goal that had been brewing for a while arrived soon after play had restarted. The only surprise was that it went to Ebbsfleet United, rather against the run of play. The visitors broke quickly and when Whitely picked up possession 25 yards out and right-of-centre he let fly with a dipping effort that left Neal grasping at thin air as the ball whistled inside the far post.

A blow for Salford but their response will have pleased manager Alexander as Fleet’s lead lasted for just less than 3 minutes. Touray was the provider, advancing on the left before dropping a great cross just beyond the far post. Gaffney was onto it but his close-range nodded effort was somehow blocked by Ashmore. With the keeper grounded after that impressive stop the ball fell straight back to GAFFNEY who made no mistake this time, lifting the ball over the prone Ashmore and into the roof of the net.

Half-hearted defensive claims for offside were ignored by the officials and Salford had a deserved equaliser. Suitably encouraged, the Ammies fancied their chances of getting another goal before the interval. Shelton’s pass picked out Rooney just outside the area and a few yards left of centre. A delicate chipped delivery onto the box dropped nicely for strike partner Gaffney who turned instantly to slam in a left-footer that was blocked by Winfield.

Midfielders Whitehead and Shelton linked up for the home side next, with the latter failing to keep another effort from distance down.

Carl Piergianni was booked after catching Whitely with a late challenge and Miles Weston’s free-kick was just evaded Winfield right in front of goal.

That was just about that for an eventful first half – plenty of Salford possession, a couple of good chances for the each and a goal apiece.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 EBBSFLEET UNITED 1

The Ammies could have gone ahead within 2 minutes of the restart as Gaffney hit a left-footer from right-of-centre that wasn’t far wide of the far post. Other than that the first 15 of the second half belonged to Ebbsfleet who were definitely looking to re-establish their lead. Weston beat a man before seeing his shot deflected over the bar but the home defence was standing firm during this spell of real pressure. Magri made it into Salford’s area on the right but a low delivery aimed at Coulson was just about cleared by Pond.

The Ammies were struggling to find any real fluency despite occasional flashes of quality. In the 65th minute Gaffney did well to control a cross from the right, raising his left foot high to bring the ball down beyond the far post. His low pass into the middle was dangerous too but Winfield got their first to get in a no-nonsense clearance.

With a quarter of the game left Bolton Wanderers loanee Dennis Politic replaced Walker for Salford and was soon making his presence felt. In the meantime however Whitely’s delivery from the right eventually fell nicely for Kedwell beyond the far post, only for his first-time effort to be charged down.

The Ammies were attacking the home end and Politic advanced through the inside left channel before nudging a great ball into the box for Lloyd. The angle was tight when he left fly with a low, angled effort but Ashmore produced another great stop, getting down to block at the near post. The ball went loose and from the edge of the box Politic hit an effort that looked certain to hit the back of the net until the ball spun off a defender to drop inches over the bar.

Politic was at it again minutes later, clipping through a pass intended for Rooney but Ashmore had anticipated, advancing at speed to clear from the edge of the area.

With 11 minutes to play Andy Drury got into Salford’s box on the left before lifting an angled drive over the bar. A presentable opportunity but it would be the home side who did most of the late attacking.
Politic was unlucky again in the 81st minute as his shot from the edge of the area was deflected, dropping just over the target. Rooney got a touch to Lloyd’s corner but not enough to trouble Ashmore unduly.

The Fleet keeper required treatment after taking a knock and the frustrated home supporters seemed less than sympathetic. An element of time-wasting had gradually crept into Ebbsfleet’s play as the second half progressed, with the referee reacting leniently to those tactics.

As a result the Ammies were struggling to keep Ebbsfleet under real pressure, although the home side almost pinched a second goal 3 minutes from time. Lloyd’s corner from the left was met by Piergianni and his header was on its way inside the post until Ashmore produced another impressive save, sprawling to his right in order to push the ball away to safety.

Devante Rodney came on for Lloyd during the penultimate minute of the 90 but Ebbsfleet were in no mood to relinquish their grip on that point. Politic delivered a corner, right-footed from the left, but this time Piergianni’s header dropped well wide of the keeper’s left-hand upright. Content with their point Fleet might have been, but their ambitions for all 3 were not quite gone. Substitute Sean Shields crossed but Drury could only lob in an effort that dropped over the bar.

There were howls of protest from the home fans as the 4th official indicated just 4 minutes of time to be added on. There had been stoppages for injuries and substitutions during the second half as well as stalling tactics from Fleet - at least a couple more minutes might well have been in order.

Four minutes it would be, however, and the Ammies couldn’t carve out another chance to win the game and hold on to top-spot. In fact, the game’s final chance went to Ebbsfleet after Piergianni’s headed clearance dropped just outside the area. Drury was underneath that one but his 20-yarder from a central position dropped over the crossbar.

FULL-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 EBBSFLEET UNITED 1

A fortnight ago bottom side Braintree Town left The Peninsula Stadium with a point and Ebbsfleet United managed to do the same this afternoon. A thoroughly frustrating 90 minutes for Graham Alexander and his side as they worked hard to break down opponents who got men behind the ball yet always posed a danger on the break.

A little extra bit of quality in and around the penalty area would have transformed this game from Salford’s perspective, but too may passes went astray this afternoon and the usual slick movement wasn’t always in evidence.

There were, of course, some good moments and Politic’s debut for the club augurs well for the rest of his time with us.

Credit is certainly due to Ebbsfleet, who haven’t enjoyed the best of luck so far this season. Daryl McMahon’s side had a game-plan and stuck to it, displaying a fair degree of discipline, organisation and grit as they did so. Encouraged by their vocal travelling support, Fleet will consider this a job well done and a point deserved.

The Ammies must go again this week as they visit Barnet on Tuesday and Eastleigh next Saturday. More miles to cover but hopefully there’ll be hauls of points to bring back from these exotic southern locations…

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