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Team Sheet

Southport
1
Mark Halstead
2
Jordan Richards
3
Graham Kelly
Yellow card for Graham Kelly

Priestley '77

4
David Morgan

Hannah '87

5
Steve Howson (c)
6
Ollie Marx
7
Elliot Osborne
8
David Lynch
Yellow card for David Lynch
9
Jason Gilchrist
10
Adam Dawson

Cockerline '82

11
Dion Charles
Salford City FC
1
Tim Erlandsson
2
Michael Notingham
3
Ibou Touray
4
Lois Maynard
5
Carl Piergianni
Yellow card for Carl Piergianni
6
Liam Hogan (c)
7
Tom Walker
1 goals for Tom Walker

Dudley '90+3

8
Gus Mafuta
9
Mani Dieseruvwe
10
Nick Haughton

Redshaw '56

11
Josh Askew

Allen '56

Substitutes
12
Clive Smith
13
Billy Priestley
14
Dan Cockerline
15
Ross Hannah
16
Jon Worsnop
Substitutes
12
Scott Burton
14
Mark Shelton
15
Richie Allen
Yellow card for Richie Allen
16
Anthony Dudley
17
Jack Redshaw
Managers
Manager - Kevin Davies
Managers
Joint Manager - Bernard Morley
Joint Manager - Anthony Johnson
Match Officals
Referee - James Bell

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Match
Report

Six years ago this very evening a mid-table Salford City side visited AFC Fylde’s old Kellamergh Park home for a Northern Premier League First Division North game. Despite a creditable display the Ammies lost 1-0 and those three points secured promotion for the Coasters, with their goal scored by a certain Richie Allen. The faithful few who travelled to support Salford on the night clapped their side off, as they always did, but could only imagine what it would be like to follow a club who were “going places”. Fast forward those six years and they need imagine no more…the little team from Moor Lane now stands on the edge of automatic promotion to the highest level of English non-league football.

Another trip to the Lancashire coast and this time Tom Walker’s second-half goal gave Salford City a 1-0 win over Southport. There was a pleasing symmetry about that strike too as the killer cross that set it up came from the very same Richie Allen. On the other side of England Harrogate Town lost 3-0 to Boston United and The Ammies now need just one point to secure a third promotion in four tumultuous seasons.

There was one change to the side that overpowered Nuneaton Town on Saturday with fit again Lois Maynard replacing Scott Burton in midfield. Starting for Southport was former Salford defensive stalwart Steve Howson and another ex-Ammie, Billy Priestley, was among the substitutes.

Southport got the action underway but it was obvious straightaway that the Ammies meant business. Within 2 minutes Walker had swung in a deep free-kick from the right and Carl Piergianni’s muscular presence was enough to cause confusion in the home defence. Salford skipper Liam Hogan pounced on the loose ball but his 8-yard shot was deflected over the crossbar for a corner.

The Sandgrounders struggled to get out of their own half during the opening stages as their visitors bossed possession looking for an early, nerve-settling goal. With 6 minutes played Nick Haughton advanced after deftly controlling Michael Nottingham’s throw-in from the right. A low shot went in from the edge of the penalty area but Southport keeper Mark Halstead made the save, gathering the ball at his second attempt.

A good start for the Ammies and their 300 strong travelling support sensed a breakthrough. In the 8th minute Walker delivered a corner from the right just beyond the far post where Lois Maynard got up well. The downward header was a good one but Halstead was alert, getting across to push the ball around the upright for another corner. That one was cleared but Haughton picked up possession just outside the left-hand angle of the box and found space to drill in a low shot. Once again Halstead got down well at the base of his right-hand post but could only spill the ball behind for yet another Salford corner-kick.

The first ten minutes resembled a game of attack and defence but Southport just about managed to hold firm and the game’s first goal would not materialise for a while yet.

For now Salford continued to dominate and Walker’s run from the centre to the right-hand edge of the box was followed by a shot that was blocked. In the 17th minute another Walker corner – this one from the right – dropped towards the far post where Hogan poked it towards goal. It looked as if this one was going in but once again Halstead did well, getting across to his right, doing just enough to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

Walker was causing problems for the home defence again shortly afterwards, attacking Graham Kelly on the right and getting to the line. A low cross followed but the Southport defender did just enough to get a touch that diverted the ball straight to Halstead, who was able to take it cleanly at the near post.

All Salford so far but despite a number of opportunities they hadn’t managed to establish a lead and the balance of the game was about to shift for a while.

The Sandgrounders had done virtually nothing in terms of attacking but they suddenly sprang into life, just in time for the second quarter of the game. The decision to penalise Gus Mafuta following a strong challenge on Adam Dawson looked harsh but the outcome was a free kick. Dawson took it himself from Southport’s left and Hogan had to concede a corner with a diving header from inside his own 6-yard box.

Not exactly a chance but it seemed to encourage the home side and from their next attack Kelly played a square ball inside from the left. David Morgan had a sight of goal and he slammed in a well struck 25-yarder, forcing Tim Erlandsson into full-length dive to his left as he tipped the ball wide.

A fine save from the Sweden Under-21 keeper and his defence would have soon have a bit more work to do. In the 26th minute Piergianni, so reliable over recent games, dallied in possession in the left-back position and Morgan got in to nick the ball away. The Salford central defender got back to make a challenge but it was deemed unfair and the home side had a free-kick, just outside the right-hand edge of the area. Piergianni was yellow-carded for the foul but Dawson couldn’t take advantage of the promising position as his set-piece dropped well beyond the far upright.

This had been a good spell for the Sandgrounders but Salford are nothing if not resolute and the ship was soon steadied. Just before the half-hour Maynard showed a neat bit of control to carry possession to the halfway line only to be stopped in his tracks by an over-aggressive challenge from David Lynch.
That foul earned the Southport midfielder a yellow card and he was accompanied into the referee’s notebook by Kelly 3 minutes before the break. The home full-back’s run into Salford territory was stopped by Walker who tracked back with him, won possession and then had his shirt tugged as he threatened to break forward.

The Ammies had surrendered their early initiative but during the final minutes of the first half they clicked back into higher gear. A flowing move involved Walker, Haughton and Mani Dieseruvwe before Josh Askew’s cross from the left beat everyone in the middle on its way out for a goal-kick. A Walker corner caused problems for the home defence with Piergianni and then Dieseruvwe going down in the box during the ensuing scramble. The referee decided that a penalty was not warranted and to be fair his decision didn’t meet with much protest from the visiting players or bench.

The last opportunity of the first half came during the 2nd of 4 added minutes and perhaps not unsurprisingly it involved another Walker corner. Hogan got onto the end of the delivery, from the right, with Halstead doing well to stop and hold the effort on his goal-line.

SOUTHPORT 0 SALFORD CITY 0

Not a bad first half from the Salford point of view, but the news from Boston was even better. The travelling supporters behind Erlandsson’s goal had broadcast news of two goals scored by the Pilgrims in their game –vs- Harrogate, with the first of those coming from our very own Jake Beesley just before the 30 minute mark. The prospect of a perfect evening was opening up for Salford City – if they could force a win - and if Harrogate failed to find a response at the Jakemans Stadium - one point from the final two games would be enough to secure promotion.

Nice thoughts, but they were only ‘ifs’ for now and it was the Sandgrounders who made the more positive start to the second half. Four minutes after the restart Morgan lifted a pass into Salford’s area and it looked as if Dion Charles might have the time and space to break the deadlock. He did get a shot in but Ibou Touray got there just in time to deflect the effort over the bar at the expense of nothing worse than a corner.

Three minutes later the increasingly influential Dawson jockeyed for position outside the left-hand angle before lofting in an ambitious effort that was clutched out of the air by Erlandsson.

Dawson turned away from Maynard in midfield soon after that, making it to the edge of the area before sliding a pass into the path of Jordan Richards on the right. Yellow shirts were getting into the box but Richards badly over-hit a cross that dropped out of play beyond the far post.

The Ammies hadn’t really got going as an attacking force since the start of the second half and the pack was duly shuffled in the 56th minute. Askew and Haughton were replaced by Richie Allen and Jack Redshaw but the next opportunity went the way of Southport. Morgan sprayed a pass to the right for Dawson and he whipped in a cross that was destined for the head of top scorer Jason Gilchrist. Erlandsson had other ideas and he got there in time to punch the ball away to relative safety on the far side of the field.

On the hour Maynard had a go from about 22 yards and right-of-centre but his effort was charged down by Howson. At the other end Morgan escaped the attentions of Allen before advancing then attempting to play in Charles. Salford’s defence snapped shut on that foray but this was an open game that could quite conceivably go either way.

Southport exerted more pressure in the 64th minute with Hogan having to stretch to cut out a low ball into the danger area. Erlandsson punched Dawson’s corner clear and Morgan couldn’t keep his snap-shot from the edge of the box down.

It looked as if a flash of quality might be needed to win this game and it arrived with 66 minutes played. Salford knocked the ball around well and Allen found himself in possession wide on the left. The cross that followed was of the highest quality, dropping just beyond the far post where WALKER arrived right on cue to crash a first-time close range finish past Halstead and into the back of the net.

The vital breakthrough had been engineered in impressive fashion but Southport were by no means finished. In the 69th minute Gilchrist played Dawson into the box on the right and he drilled in a low, angled effort that Erlandsson touched behind at the near post. Dawson it was who took the subsequent corner and it was a good one, with Olly Marx getting in a towering downward header that beat Erlandsson only for Touray to hack clear right on the goal line.

The action switched to the other end where Walker’s free-kick from the left was cleared only as far as Hogan, centrally positioned and 16 yards. He had to take the chance quickly but almost managed to double Salford’s lead with a low effort that wasn’t far wide of Halstead’s right-hand post.

Salford were slowly cranking up the pressure, winning a couple of corners and from the third Walker’s 76th minute in-swinger from the right was met by Piergianni on the edge of the 6-yard box. The former Boston man has been in fine scoring form recently and he went agonisingly close to adding to his tally with a firm header that cannoned back into play off the underside of the crossbar. The home side couldn’t clear their lines and when a cross came in from the left Redshaw’s effort from an acute angle beyond the far post ended up in the side-netting.

That could have been job done for Salford and although a crucial win was within their grasp they still had plenty more graft to do. With 6 minutes to play Charles advanced on a right-of-centre run before swapping passes with Morgan then drilling a low ball across the edge of the 6-yard box. There were yellow shirts waiting in anticipation but Hogan had been a colossus at the back this evening and was in no mood to relinquish his side’s 3rd successive clean sheet. Facing his own goal the skipper had enough composure to stretch out a leg and divert the ball behind for a corner.

The Sandgrounders were facing a fifth defeat in succession – a sequence that has sucked them back into the relegation battle – and time was running out. Salford substitute Allen was booked for failing to retreat 10 yards from a Southport free-kick as the visitors sought to run down the clock.

Three minutes from time Walker’s corner from the left dropped into the penalty area and Hogan was there again, getting up to put in a header that dropped just over the bar.

The referee indicated a minimum of 6 minutes time to be added on and Southport went close to forcing an equaliser during the second of them. A header in the box spun off Hogan who could only watch in hope as the ball rose into the air before dropping just outside Erlandsson’s right-hand post. Elliot Osborne took the corner, from the left and the clearance fell to Howson on the edge of the area. Here was a late chance to snatch a draw but an effort from the edge of the area cleared the crossbar by a yard.

The Ammies frustrated their hosts after that, dropping deep to defend in numbers and keeping possession when the opportunity offered. Even so they could have added a second goal during the penultimate minute of those 6 after Piergianni rose imperiously to win a defensive header deep inside his own half. Redshaw was the only Salford man up but he collected the ball, turned and headed towards the penalty area. Faced by the retreating Marx the Ammies’ top-scorer shimmied inside to make half a yard before unleashing a low effort that was well saved by Halstead.

There was time for very little more and the referee’s whistle ushered in a 5th successive Salford win and one that might very well be viewed by posterity as pretty momentous…

SOUTHPORT 0 SALFORD CITY 1

Salford City’s players and coaching staff took a deserved ovation from their travelling fans at the end of another invigorating, if occasionally nail-biting evening of football. The news that Boston had extended their lead to 3 during the second half means that the Ammies now need a single point from their 2 remaining league fixtures to secure the National League North title. The first of those games comes on Saturday when Boston visit the Peninsula Stadium and they will certainly be looking to provide the promotion race with yet another twist.

Tonight was all about desire and determination for Salford and they had both in bucket-loads. It wasn't easy - few games at this level are - but there was always the feeling that we had enough in the tank to bring all 3 points home.

Following the back-to-back defeats at Brackley and York in February the Ammies have recorded 8 wins and 3 draws in 11 games, a hugely impressive run that may well have won them a 3rd promotion in 4 seasons. A great response to adversity too, one that none of the other promotion contenders has been able to match.

Of course, nothing has yet been won. Concentration must be maintained and a professional job needs to be done at the weekend. That shouldn’t present a problem to a squad who have worked tremendously hard for their success and who have the quality, steel and spirit to finish the task.

There’s nowhere better to be on Saturday than the Peninsula Stadium where Salford City FC have another date with their footballing destiny…make sure you’re there for what promises to be yet another fantastic Ammie occasion…

GOALS:
0-1 Tom WALKER (66th min)
Attendance: 1,165 (291 Salford City)

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