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

Salford City football Club

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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Vaclav Hladky
3
Ibou Touray
4
Jason Lowe
5
Ash Eastham (c)
6
Tom Clarke
7
Luke Armstrong

Elliott 46'

8
Darron Gibson
10
Ash Hunter
1 goals for Ash Hunter
11
Bruno Andrade

Thomas-Asante 61'

18
Oscar Threlkeld

Towell 61'

40
Ian Henderson
1 goals for Ian Henderson
Exeter City
1
Lewis Ward
4
Nigel Atangana
6
Rory McArdle
8
Jake Taylor (c)

Sweeney 85'

10
Archie Collins
12
Ryan Bowman
14
Joel Randall
1 goals for Joel Randall
17
Matt Jay
1 goals for Matt Jay

Law 80'

20
Lewis Page
30
Josh Key
41
Will Dean
Substitutes
31
William Evans (GK)
9
Tom Elliott
Yellow card for Tom Elliott
16
Jordan Turnbull
17
Richie Towell
19
James Wilson
32
Tylor Golden
37
Brandon Thomas-Asante
Substitutes
23
Jonny Maxted (GK)
3
Jack Sparkes
7
Nicky Law
15
Tom Parkes
18
Alex Fisher
25
Nicky Ajose
26
Pierce Sweeney
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - Matt Taylor
Match Officals
Referee - Samuel Barrott
Assistant Referee - Wayne Grunnill
Assistant Referee - Billy Smallwood
Fourth Official - Christopher Ward

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Match
Report

The opening league game of the season turned out to be an entertaining affair on a pleasant – if quiet – afternoon at The Peninsula Stadium. An early overhead kick from Ian Henderson put the Ammies ahead, but by half-time they trailed 2-1 against a strong, enterprising Exeter City outfit. At the break it’s probably fair to say that Salford might have settled for a point, but after Ash Hunter’s leveller Graham Alexander’s side could have gone on to claim all three.

There were no changes to the eleven who started last Saturday’s Carabao Cup victory over Championship side Rotherham United and only two switches on the bench. In came Academy keeper Hayden Evans and midfielder Richie Towell, with Nick Hayes and Alex Denny missing out.

Salford’s start to the game would be as bright as the September sunshine with Ibou Touray thundering a left-footer from distance narrowly wide of Lewis Ward’s left-hand upright at the East Stand end. Close for the home side, but they would open the scoring from their next attack, with less than 2 minutes played. Jason Lowe made a diagonal run to the right before delivering a very decent cross. IAN HENDERSON arrived with his back to goal so tried an acrobatic overhead effort that took a spun off the head of Rory McArdle, deceived Ward and dropped inside his left-hand post.

An ideal start to the game and league season, but Salford would not be able to build on that very early momentum. Exeter City settled into the game after a slow start and almost unlocked the home defence after 8 minutes. The lively Matt Jay claimed possession on the left after hesitant Salford defending before sliding a pass into the area for Lewis Page to chase. Fortunately for the Ammies Tom Clarke had anticipated the danger, getting in a solid challenge that prompted appeals for a penalty from the visiting players. The referee did decide that a foul had been committed, but the free-kick went to Salford.

At the other end Bruno Andrade tried a half-volley from the left, outside the box, only to skew an effort that drifted harmlessly wide of the far post.

Exeter’s first effort of note came just past the quarter hour as Josh Key tried an ambitious effort from wide on the right that failed to trouble Vaclav Hladky. The Grecians went closer a couple of minutes later after Joel Randall slid a pass through the inside-right channel. Skipper Jake Taylor latched onto that one before evading Touray and crossing low into the danger area. Jay looked set to pounce but Oscar Threlkeld was there for the Ammies, getting in a block at the expense of a corner.

Great defending from the former Plymouth Argyle man, but Salford would shoot themselves in the foot as the first-half reached its halfway point. Touray was pressured into a hasty pass back towards his own penalty area, with Eastham forced to prod away under pressure from Ryan Bowman. Jay picked up the loose ball and with red shirts aplenty in front of him, was allowed to run into the box and place a left-footed 16-yard finish inside the diving Hladky’s left-hand post.

The tide had turned in Exeter’s favour, and the visitors now looked like a side who had only been denied promotion by a play-off final defeat. Within a minute of Jay’s equaliser Randall pushed forward on the left and got in a cross that dropped for Bowman at the far post. It wasn’t the easiest of chances but the powerful striker almost made the most if it, getting in a downward header that scraped just outside the post.

Salford were beginning to struggle a little bit, and almost gifted their opponents another goal after 27 minutes. Hunter’s ball back from the halfway line on the left looked destined to be routinely cleared by Eastham. Maybe the usually rock-solid centre-half was distracted by the considerable form of Bowman bearing down on him as he somehow managed to kick the ball against his own left leg. Bowman was away on a clear run towards goal but Hladky advanced, made himself big and managed to get in a good blocking save. Bowman insisted that he had been tugged back by the rapidly retreating Eastham, but the referee and assistant were unimpressed by his protests.

Exeter were on top and were soon pushing forward again. Randall and Nigel Atangana linked up on the left before Archie Collins crossed to the far post where the stretching Bowman could only head wide.

There was another goal in the air, and it duly arrived for Exeter 11 minutes before the interval. A short corner from the left was played low into the nearside of the area for Collins, tight to the line. He nudged a pass back to Jay who launched a side-footed cross beyond the far post where Bowman somehow managed to turn a looping ball back inside. Gibson’s defensive header dropped just inside the box, right-of-centre and Taylor let fly with a ferocious half-volley that Hladky, diving to his left, managed to turn onto the bar. A great save, but luck was against the Czech keeper as the ball dropped to the edge of the 6-yard box. RANDALL was on hand, getting up above Threlkeld to nod the ball into an empty net.

Not Salford’s finest defensive hour and the Grecians almost extended their deserved lead a couple of minutes before half-time. Jay did well to flick a pass forward into the path of Taylor who turned inside Touray before hitting a low 9-yarder towards goal. This time it was a case of Hladky to the rescue as the home keeper got down to his left and pushed the ball out for a corner.

A torrid second quarter of the game for Salford and that positive start seemed a long time ago as the teams made their way to the changing rooms.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 EXETER CITY 2

There was a change in personnel for Salford during the interval, with Luke Armstrong replaced by Tom Elliott. That ushered in a change in formation, with the first half’s 4-3-3 replaced by a 4-4-2.

The early stages of the second half would be even, keenly contested and without goalmouth incident for the first 10 minutes or so. That marked an improvement for the Ammies, but the tactical change appeared to have steadied the ship a little bit.

Elliott was booked for a challenge on Collins in the 54th minute and the first opportunity of the half went Salford’s way very shortly afterwards. A Hunter corner from the left dropped just beyond the far post, and although Clarke did well to get to it, he couldn’t get his tightly angled header on target.

Exeter countered and Collins found Taylor whose shot flashed over the crossbar. Next to get a sight of goal was Jay whose angled effort from the left was bravely blocked by Eastham.

The Ammies had looked better since the restart but weren’t producing the chances needed to get back on level terms. Manager Alexander made two more changes in the 63rd minute, replacing Threlkeld and Andrade with Richie Towell and Brandon Thomas-Asante respectively.

The changes almost paid immediate dividends as Thomas-Asante drilled in a low effort, from almost 25 yards out and well left of centre. Ward had to drop smartly to his right to get that one, requiring a second attempt to finally claim control of the ball.

In the 68th minute Salford got their equaliser, with Towell the creator as his clever lobbed pass from the right dropped for HUNTER , level with far post and 8 yards out. A left-foot volleyed effort followed, with the ball thumping into the turf before rising high to drop over Ward and into the net. Probably not the finish that was intended, but the Ammies weren’t going to worry about that.

All to play for and Exeter looked keen to re-establish their narrow lead. Randall squared a pass from the left for Jay to hit a shot that was charged down by the alert Gibson. A minute or so later Hunter was forced to retreat on the left, eventually conceding a throw-in that was taken quickly. Jay switched possession to Randall on the left, only for his angled effort to fly over the bar.

A couple of chances for the visitors, but it would be Salford who looked the more dangerous of the sides as the game approached its conclusion. In the 79th minute Elliott nodded a long ball to the left where Towell tried a 22-yard volley that wasn’t cleanly struck and drifted wide of the goal.

Soon afterwards a tempting left-flank cross from Touray found Thomas-Asante whose header comfortably held by Ward.

With 4 minutes to play Thomas-Asante slammed in a powerful effort from left-of-centre and was unlucky to see that one crash off an Exeter defender.

Having been on the back foot for a while the Grecians could have pinched a win during the 1st minute of time added on. A Nicky Law corner from the left seemed to take a touch off Key, with Hladky forced to push the ball away.

That would prove to be the final action of an entertaining game, and on balance a draw probably wasn’t too unfair a result.

FULL-TIME: SALFORD CITY 2 EXETER CITY 2

Not the start to the league season that Salford would have wanted, but they showed character to scrap their way back into the game following an uneven first-half performance. That very early lead was squandered as a result of some shaky defending, and Graham Alexander will be hoping that those sorts of mistakes won’t be repeated over the coming weeks. An improved second half showing suggested that they won’t be.

Exeter look to be a good side, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them up there at the sharp end of the season. This might turn out to be a vital point as the Ammies look to secure League One football for next season.

After 3 home games in 8 days, Salford now face two awaydays over the next 7. A Carabao Cup trip to Everton on Wednesday is followed by a journey to the east coast next Saturday, and an EFL League Two date with Grimsby Town.

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