S a l f o r d
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Salford City football Club

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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Václav Hladký
3
Ibou Touray
4
Jason Lowe
5
Ash Eastham (c)
6
Tom Clarke
14
George Boyd

Burgess 73'

18
Oscar Threlkeld

Gibson 77'

24
Robbie Gotts
1 goals for Robbie Gotts
32
Tylor Golden
Yellow card for Tylor Golden
37
Brandon Thomas-Asante
2 goals for Brandon Thomas-Asante 2 goals for Brandon Thomas-Asante

Elliott 87'

40
Ian Henderson
Leyton Orient
22
Lawrence Vigouroux
2
Sam Ling
3
Joe Widdowson

Sotiriou 55'

4
Ouss Cissè (c)

Clay 64'

5
Dan Happe
Yellow card for Dan Happe
9
Conor Wilkinson

Sweeney 84'

15
Dan Kemp
16
James Brophy
17
Louis Dennis

Johnson 55'

18
Tunji Akinola
Yellow card for Tunji Akinola
26
Hector Kyprianou

Young 84'

Substitutes
31
William Evans
8
Darron Gibson
9
Tom Elliott
15
Luke Burgess
20
Mani Dieseruvwe
25
Paul Coutts
33
Liam Loughlan
Substitutes
1
Sam Sargeant
8
Craig Clay
20
Ruel Sotiriou
24
Jayden Sweeney
28
Nick Freeman
39
Danny Johnson
46
Matt Young
Managers
Manager - Gary Bowyer
Managers
Interim Manager - Jobi McAnuff
Match Officals
Referee - Darren Drysdale
Assistant Referee - Conor Brown
Assistant Referee - Christopher Ward
Fourth Official - Antony Coggins

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Match
Report

Salford City will play League Two football again next season, despite this convincing final-day victory over Leyton Orient. The Ammies did as much as they could, but Forest Green Rovers’ 3-0 win at Oldham denied them a play-off berth. The odds were always against Gary Bowyer’s side today, and the season ends with an 8th placed finish – just two points outside the top seven.

Suspensions for Di’Shon Bernard, Ash Hunter and Richie Towell bit into Salford’s playing resources and in-form central defender Jordan Turnbull was unavailable for selection due to a foot injury. That meant a recall for Tylor Golden at right-back, with Tom Clarke restored the centre of defence alongside skipper Ash Eastham. George Boyd was drafted in for only his 2nd league start of the campaign, and on the bench today were long-term injury absentees Tom Elliott and Darron Gibson.

Heavy and persistent overnight rain had left the Peninsula Stadium surface virtually waterlogged, but a break in the downpour allowed the game to get underway after an hour's delay. Not ideal for anyone, but the Ammies appeared unaffected and started the game positively. The O’s were forced back almost from the start and the East London side would spend most of their afternoon on the back foot.

As early as the 2nd minute Brandon Thomas-Asante found space on the right corner of the penalty area, delivering an angled ball towards the 6-yard box. Boyd stretched as he slid in but was inches away from applying what probably would have been a decisive touch. Thomas-Asante was involved again 3 minutes later, arriving beyond the far post to collect Ian Henderson’s lofted cross from the left. An exchange of passes with Robbie Gotts gave the striker a sight of goal, only for his thumping left-footer to be charged down.

Early encouragement for Salford, who needed a win to stand any chance of snatching a play-off place. A couple of corners came to nothing and in the 7th minute Orient created their first opening. Conor Wilkinson collected a forward pass in a deep position, and with back to goal. A smart turn was followed by an accurate ball to the left, with James Brophy advancing before laying a pass back inside for Wilkinson. The O’s striker clipped an effort towards goal but if lacked pace and was far too close to Václav Hladký.

Otherwise, it was Salford applying the pressure, and they would be handed a great chance to go ahead in the 14th minute. A long punt down the left from Hladký was flicked on by Boyd, with Henderson managing to get goal-side of Orient defender Dan Happe. Salford’s top-scorer made it into the box, left-of-centre, with the retreating Happe attempting a sliding challenge that made contact with Henderson but not the ball. There was no protest from Happe – who was yellow-carded – or his teammates, and with Henderson missing a couple of spot-kicks this season it was Boyd who placed the ball on the spot. The former Burnley man hit a low left-footed effort to Lawrence Vigouroux’s left, but it lacked pace and the keeper was able to drop down and push the ball away. Gotts picked up possession, tight to the line, and his cross was headed behind at the near post by Joe Widdowson.

A blow for the Ammies, but they would not let it affect their performance and Orient would soon have more defending to do. In the 18th minute Henderson hooked an angled pass forward from tight to the line on the right, sending Thomas-Asante off on a run through the middle. The heavy surface allowed defenders to recover, so the Salford forward slipped a pass into the right-hand side of the box and directly into the path of Henderson. The angle was tight, but it wouldn’t matter as Happe arrived to put in a superbly timed challenge at the expense of a slight knock and a corner kick.

Salford on top, although the intensity of the attacks would decline a little as the game moved into its second quarter. The next chance of note would go to Orient as James Brophy’s powerful run inside from the right opened up a little bit of space. Hladký managed to stop the well struck low shot that followed, then just about reclaimed the ball as it squirmed away from him, with Wilkinson closing in. Close for the O’s and they would create another very decent chance just a couple of minutes later. Louis Dennis beat a defender on the left before delivering a great cross to the far post. Wilkinson rose to get in a downwards header, with Hladký dropping quickly to make a good holding save.

A decent spell for the visitors, but Salford were soon back in the ascendancy. Just past the half-hour Thomas-Asante collected Henderson’s flicked header, only to see his 18-yarder blocked by a defender. Soon after that he stretched to get his head to a cross from the right but couldn’t quite make contact.

The Ammies were dominating possession as the half-time break approached, and they enjoyed a slice of luck to take a 42nd minute lead. Henderson squared a ball inside from the left, with GOTTS collecting before advancing a few paces. From 25 yards out and just right of centre the Leeds United loanee hit a low, bobbling effort that had Vigouroux diving low to his right with the intent of making what should have been a fairly routine save. Somehow though the ball squeezed past the keeper and inside his right-hand post to give Salford the lead.

Having established an advantage Salford looked to extend it and during the half’s final minute the lively Gotts made the line on the right before lifting a cross that fell to the penalty spot. Henderson tried an acrobatic hooked effort, but the contact wasn’t right and the ball was rolling well wide of the keeper’s left-hand post until a defender hacked it clear.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 LEYTON ORIENT 0

There was bad news waiting for Salford’s players as they arrived in the changing rooms. Although Barrow had nicked an equaliser at Exeter, Forest Green had scored 2 unanswered goals at Boundary Park to effectively book their place in the play-offs. They would soon add a 3rd and by the time the Ammies returned to the field they were playing for solely for pride.

Three minutes after the restart Golden’s pass found Thomas-Asante on the right-hand side of the box. A low, angled shot appeared to be goalbound until Tunji Akinola somehow managed to turn the ball over the bar from the edge of the 6-yard box.

It would be a brief escape for the O’s who fell further behind in the 50th minute. Gotts did well on the right-hand side of the area before playing a pass back to Golden whose cross dropped to the edge of the 6-yard box. Henderson couldn’t make telling contact but THOMAS-ASANTEpopped up ahead of Sam Ling to poke a 6-yard left-footer past Vigouroux.

Orient interim manager Jobi McAnuff made a couple of substitutions after that, but the momentum would remain with the home side. Just before the hour Ibou Touray – who with Hladký made the divisional team of the season – drove in a low diagonal ball from the left that just evaded a couple of red shirts in front of goal.

The Ammies added a 3rd goal in the 66th minute, and it was quite a memorable one. Thomas-Asante was deep inside his own half and wide on the left when he collected Touray’s defensive header. There seemed to be little danger for Orient, but the Salford striker powered past Ling and Hector Kyprianou before advancing through the middle. Brophy couldn’t get in a challenge and a change of pace beat Akinola before THOMAS-ASANTE slipped an angled 12-yarder from left of centre wide of Vigouroux and inside the far post.

A tremendous goal from a player who hasn’t scored as many as he would have hoped this season. With 20 minutes to play he could have completed a hat-trick as Jason Lowe’s threaded pass played him clear through the middle. Vigouroux advanced to narrow the angles, pushing Thomas-Asante’s low shot away to the right where Henderson’s valiant attempt to turn the awkwardly dropping ball home rose high over the target.

Luke Burgess replaced Boyd just before a Gotts corner from the right was met by Clarke, whose header thudded off an opponent and away to safety.

There was a welcome return to action for Gibson with 12 minutes left to play, the Irish international’s first appearance since suffering an injury at Port Vale back in October.

With the game won and the play-offs out of reach Salford’s attacking efforts became less urgent during the closing stages and with 3 minutes left Tom Elliott – his first appearance since the draw at Newport in January - replaced Thomas-Asante.

The O’s did their best to get onto the scoresheet during the closing stages. In the 90th minute Dan Kemp’s cut-back from the left gave Ruel Sotiriou an opening, only for the substitute to skew a low effort well wide of Hladký’s left-hand post. Right at the end of time added on Brophy squared from the left for a teammate to get in a shot that was brilliantly blocked by Clarke. The ball bounced loose, with Touray doing well on the line to nod over and preserve the 22nd clean sheet of a defensively outstanding season.

FULL-TIME: SALFORD CITY 3 LEYTON ORIENT 0

A result that would have been entirely satisfying at any other time of the season, but today was overshadowed by the disappointment of failing to make the play-offs. After last week’s defeat at Colchester, it was always going to be a tall order for the Ammies to gatecrash the play-off party and it would prove to be a challenge too far, thanks to that Forest Green win.

There are positives to take from the 2020-2021 campaign – this win means Salford top the division’s ‘home form’ table, albeit on goal difference ahead of 3 other clubs. League Two’s meanest defence conceded just 34 goals over their 46 fixtures, which is a terrific achievement. Two players were voted into the divisional team of the season and keeper Hladký – one of those two – picked up the divisional Golden Glove award for his amazing record of 22 clean sheets.

The statistics above should have been enough to secure a top seven spot, but disappointing away form (12 defeats in 23 games) ultimately scuppered the promotion bid. We can look back on points chucked away late on and games where territorial dominance wasn’t converted into goals. Newport’s late penalty to rescue a draw at the Peninsula Stadium and James Wilson’s equaliser at Morecambe being ruled out cost 3 precious points that might well have propelled the Ammies up a place or two.

The current campaign will not be fondly remembered by most, for obvious reasons, but congratulations are due for Cheltenham Town, Cambridge United and Bolton Wanderers. League tables rarely tell lies and those clubs deserve their promotion. The play-offs are nerve-wracking affairs at the best of times, so we wish the best of luck to all four of the teams who made the cut.

From Salford’s point of view the season has been disappointing – it’s hard to shake the notion that a talented group of players have underachieved when it comes to putting points on the board. Results and performances were reinvigorated after the appointment of Gary Bowyer but in the end the Ammies couldn’t quite get over the line.

We now look forward to the 2021-2022 season and what will hopefully be a determined assault on the automatic promotion places. Football really isn’t the same without supporters in attendance - nowhere near, in fact - and it will be great to see you all back at the Peninsula Stadium in the near future. The next Ammie chapter awaits…

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