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The start of two new eras at the Peninsula Stadium as Salford’s Graham Alexander and Fleetwood’s Joey Barton took charge of their sides for the first time. With the BT cameras in attendance this would prove a useful workout for both teams on a sweltering summer evening in Salford.

The scoreline doesn’t make for particularly comforting reading from an Ammie point of view but in this type of game it’s minutes under the belt that really count. Salford would field a different line-up in each half as new manager Alexander and assistant Chris Lucketti saw their new charges in action for the first time.

The new faces for the opening 45 minutes were former Fleetwood stalwart Nathan Pond, midfielders Kieran Glynn & Ashley Hemmings plus striker Rory Gaffney.

With the decidedly un-British heatwave showing no signs of relenting the players faced temperatures of 27 degrees Centigrade (81 in old money) at kick-off. It was a challenge but both sides seemed up for it, with Town seeing plenty of early possession.

The visitors were neat and tidy yet chances on goal were a little slow to appear, as both defences looked assured. Bobby Grant’s strike on goal in the 13th minute was the first of note, a nicely hit 25-yarder that was saved and held by Max Crocombe.

The established pattern continued, with Fleetwood seeing more of the ball without really puncturing the Ammies rearguard. As the half-hour approached Town seemed to click up a couple of gears and lively striker Paddy Madden looked set to break clear until he was unceremoniously dumped to the turf by Pond. Within a minute Conor McAleny picked up possession outside the area and hit a rasping effort from 25 yards that was well held by Crocombe.
Fleetwood were at it again soon after that with impressive midfielder Jason Holt finding Madden on the right. McAleny put in a sprint to meet the resulting chest-high cross towards the far post but the pace on the ball just about beat him.

Real signs of life from Town and 10 minutes before the break Kyle Dempsey’s low shot from distance on the right was pushed beyond the far post by Crocombe. Holt delivered the corner from the left and MADDEN had space to direct a close-range header between Salford’s keeper and his left-hand upright.

The goal had been coming and Alexander made his first Salford substitution a couple of minutes later, replacing Glynn with Jake Beesley.

The rest of the first half was played out in a similar fashion as Fleetwood kept hold of the ball and the Ammies struggled to create much in front of goal.


A completely different Salford side took to the field for the second half, with more debuts being made. Keeper Chris Neal faced his old team-mates, Scott Wiseman occupied the right-back berth and James Jones partnered Carl Piergianni at the heart of the defence. Danny Whitehead slotted into central midfield and Devante Rodney came on up front.

Fleetwood made 5 changes themselves and during the early minutes of the second half Salford looked capable of posing a threat. Rodney headed a cross from the right back inside for Tom Walker to hit a shot that curved its way wide of Alex Cairns’ left-hand post.

A decent effort and the same player had another go in the 49th minute. Touray did well on the left and from his ball inside Walker jockeyed for position prior to slamming a low 20-yarder inches wide of the keeper’s right-hand post.

Encouragement for the majority of a near 1200 crowd that had eschewed the subtle delights of BrazIl-Belgium.

It wasn’t to last unfortunately and the Ammies were well and truly caught out in the 51st minute. The busy Madden caught Lois Maynard in possession on Salford’s left rhen nodded the ball inside for Grant. A great diagonal through-ball to the left picked out McALENY and he placed a low finish across Neal and inside the far post.

Salford tried to find a response but Redshaw’s effort was the closest they came and it failed to trouble Cairns unduly. Fleetwood countered, with Madden getting into the box on the left but he was denied a second goal by a tremendous sliding challenge from James Jones.

Fleetwood made another 5 changes just before the hour but it didn’t seem to affect their rhythm too much. They added a third goal in the 61st minute and it was a brace of Ashleys who did the damage as Hunter slid a pass into the box for NADESAN to latch on to.James Jones went with him but the Fleetwood substitute was strong enough to hold off the challenge and sufficiently composed to lift a delicate finish over Neal.

With a very handy 3 goal cushion established Town replaced keeper Cairns with Billy Crellin but he would have relatively little to deal with. The Ammies plugged away however and midway through the second half Walker’s cross from the left found the head of Piergianni. The effort looped high into the warm air before dropping into the waiting arms of Crellin.

Despite that half-chance for their hosts Fleetwood were still in charge and strengthened their grip on the game in the 67th minute. This time Salford contributed directly to their own troubles as Piergianni, uncharacteristically, was caught in possession by Nadesan. The Town man was away in a flash, attacking down the right and from his cut-back HARRISON BIGGINS placed a smart finish past Neal.

Town were in full flow now and could have added a 5th goal just a couple of minutes later. Those two Ashley’s were behind this chance too, after Gethin Jones’ pass had sent Hunter into space. Another teasing pass inside from the right followed but with space tight Nadesan could only poke a low effort narrowly outside Neal’s left-hand post.

With 20 minutes to play Piergianni slipped up again as his attempted pass back from the left-back position was intercepted by the busy Nadesan. A neat ball inside picked out Gethin Jones but his attempt to place a low effort inside the keeper’s right-hand post was foiled by namesake James’ impressive sliding block.

Salford weren’t making much headway up front but Wiseman worked a chance for Lois Maynard who could only scoop an edge-of-the-box effort over the crossbar.

There was cause for Salford concern with just under 15 minutes to go as Redshaw went down in some distress after chasing a forward ball. Play was held up for a while before last season’s top-scorer managed to hobble painfully off, nursing an apparent knee injury.

Impetus remained with a quick-thinking, nippy Fleetwood side during the closing stages. A clever corner routine ended when Hunter found Biggins on the right-hand side of the area but this time he could only plant a shot straight at Neal.

Another former Fleetwood player, Nick Haughton, began to find a little space and he almost sent Rodney clear only for Tommy Spurr to get in a great sliding interception. With 3 minutes left the Ammies put together their best move of the evening as Wiseman and Haughton moved possession up the right flank where Rodney clipped a pass inside. Danny Whitehead – who looks to be a quality signing – moved the ball on to Walker whose 20-yarder was deflected over for a corner. The set piece was headed clear and Whitehead had a go from distance but could only skew an effort wide of Crellin’s left-hand post.

Fleetwood’s Hunter had a go from distance late on but the effort was safely gathered by Neal. The game moved into injury time and Salford were still looking for a consolation goal. Haughton hit another great pass up the right where Whitehead beat the offside trap and headed for the line. Rodney was well positioned in front of goal but it wasn’t to be for the Ammies as a defender arrived to head behind.
Haughton hit a very late shot high over the target and at the final whistle Fleetwood Town had run out pretty convincing 4-0 winners.


It's always a mistake to read too much into pre-season results - in the final analysis this was a chance to shake off a little summer rustiness, have a look at the players and begin the gelling process every reconstructed side needs. Credit is certainly due however to Fleetwood Town who look a very good side indeed, full of pace and inventiveness.

There will be plenty of work done on the training ground at Partington over the next few weeks, that's for sure and the next chance to assess progress come on Tuesday. The game at NPL Premier side Nantwich Town kicks off at 7:45pm - what better way could there be to spend a summer evening?

Salford City First Half: Max Crocombe, Trialist, Josh Askew, Mark Shelton, Nathan Pond, Liam Hogan, Kieran Glynn (Jake Beesley 37), Gus Mafuta, Rory Gaffney, Anthony Dudley, Ashley Hemmings

Salford City Second Half: Chris Neal, Scott Wiseman, Ibou Touray, Lois Maynard, Carl Piergianni, James Jones (Jake Lawlor 69), Jake Beesley (Nick Haughton 63), Danny Whithead, Jack Redshaw (James Jones 76), Devante Rodney, Tom Walker

Fleetwood Town: Alex Cairns (Billy Crellin, 63), Lewie Coyle (Gethin Jones HT), Eddie Clarke (Lewis Baines HT), Jason Holt (Nathan Sheron, 60), Craig Morgan (Ashley Eastham HT), Cian Bolger (Tommy Spurr HT), Kyle Dempsey (Gerard Garner, 60), Jack Sowerby (Harrison Biggins HT), Paddy Madden (Ashley Hunter, 60), Conor McAleny (Wes Burns 60), Bobby Grant (Ashley Nadesan, 60)

Referee: Nik Storey
Assistants: Barry Lamb & Anthony Moore
Fourth Official: Tom Elliott

Attendance: 1,159