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Team Sheet

Stockport County
1
Ben Hinchliffe
2
Dan Cowan
3
Scott Duxbury
4
Jimmy Ball
5
Chris Smalley
6
Stephen O'Halloran (c)
Yellow card for Stephen O'Halloran (c)
7
Adam Thomas

Dixon '82

8
Gary Stopforth
9
Jason Oswell
1 goals for Jason Oswell

Turner '60

10
Matt Warburton

Winter '60

11
Darren Stephenson
Salford City FC
1
Max Crocombe
2
Michael Nottingham
1 goals for Michael Nottingham
3
Ibou Touray
4
Lois Maynard
5
Carl Piergianni
Yellow card for Carl Piergianni
6
Liam Hogan (c)
Yellow card for Liam Hogan (c)
7
Tom Walker

Phenix '67

8
Gus Mafuta
Yellow card for Gus Mafuta
9
Richie Allen

Askew '78

10
Jack Redshaw
1 goals for Jack Redshaw
11
Mark Shelton

Beesley '86

Substitutes
12
Michael Clarke
13
Ian Ormson
14
Harry Winter
15
Bohan Dixon
1 goals for Bohan Dixon
16
Rhys Turner
Substitutes
12
Danny Livesey
14
Josh Askew
15
Jake Beesley
16
Mike Phenix
17
Mani Dieseruvwe
Managers
Manager - Jim Gannon
Managers
Joint Manager - Bernard Morley
Joint Manager - Anthony Johnson
Match Officals
Referee - Amy Fearn
Assistant Referee - Stuart Richardson
Assistant Referee - Thomas Swift

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Match
Report

Sheriff Sees Justice Done At Edgeley

Michael Nottingham’s last-gasp header rescued a deserved point at Edgeley Park this afternoon just when it seemed the Ammies would suffer a third defeat in four games. Former Salford City midfielder Bohan Dixon had put the Hatters ahead just seven from time only for ‘The Sheriff’ to ensure justice was done during the third of three minutes of time added on.

Salford joint-managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley set up their side a little differently this afternoon, adopting a 4-2-3-1 formation (used by County today too) in bid to turn around that recent run of disappointing form. The back five was unchanged, with Lois Maynard and Gus Mafuta sitting in front of them. Richie Allen, Mark Shelton and new signing Tom Walker formed a three man attacking midfield line in support of spearhead striker Jack Redshaw.

Missing out today were Josh Askew who took a place on the bench and Anthony Dudley who reported ill.

There were familiar faces for both sets of supporters amongst the opposition ranks. Stockport included Steve O’Halloran, Gary Stopforth and Matt Warburton in their starting line-up with Harry Winter and Bohan Dixon on the bench. Salford had a couple of ex-Hatters in their ranks with Carl Piergianni and debutant Tom Walker lining up against their former side.

A pretty perfect afternoon for football got underway with a crowd of over five thousand in attendance and the early signs were pretty encouraging for the four hundred plus who had made the short trip from Salford. The Ammies looked solid and confident, bossing possession during the opening stages and buzzing around in Stockport’s half in search of chinks in County’s defensive armour.

The Hatters were being pushed back yet it wasn’t until the eighth minute that Salford created a chance on goal. A ball into the box from the right fell temptingly for Nottingham whose angled snapshot was blocked by a defender. County were struggling to clear their lines and Maynard got a second bite at the cherry only to send a low right-of-centre effort across goal and wide of the far post.

Both sides won their first corner after that and in the eleventh minute Nottingham’s short pass forward picked out Shelton whose twenty-five yarder from right-of-centre flew high over the bar. County’s first attack to carry real menace arrived two minutes later when Stopforth intercepted Shelton’s pass insidde Salford's half. He duly advanced a little before driving a great pass out to the left and into the path of Darren Stephenson. The former Tranmere winger would have a lively afternoon and here he pushed into the box before lining up a shot on goal. Fortunately for Salford skipper Liam Hogan had anticipated the danger, getting across to put in a challenge that deflected the ball behind for a corner kick.

That set-piece came to nought and the next opportunity went the way of Salford barely sixty seconds later. Walker controlled a dropping ball deftly before passing to Redshaw who moved the ball into the path of Mafuta. It was certainly worth a go but from twenty yards out a shot that was firmly struck passed a yard outside Ben Hinchliffe’s right-hand upright.

All in all a decent first quarter of an hour for the Ammies although to be fair Hinchliffe in the home goal had not yet been tested.

With seventeen minutes played Redshaw was awarded a free-kick following a touch of rough treatment and Ibou Touray’s delivery from wide on the right dropped towards the edge of the six-yard box. Maynard almost got his head onto that one but a defender pipped him to it and the Ammies had to be content with a corner that came to nothing.

Salford were still searching for a breakthrough and Redshaw’s pass to the left gave Touray the space to drill in a low cross that Jimmy Ball could only prod behind at the near post. From the corner Hogan got in a challenge on Ball tight to the goal-line on the right but with the County man prostrate and home supporters baying for blood the referee felt compelled to produce a somewhat harsh yellow card.

Other than for Stephenson’s blocked attempt on goal County had been quiet but they started to see more of the ball as the half-hour approached. The home side’s left-winger ranged forward again in the twenty-fourth minute and his cross dropped for Stopforth on the far side of the box. A neat touch inside teed up Warburton but his right-of-centre half-volley bobbled harmlessly through to Max Crocombe.

The action switched back to the other end where Allen picked up a pass from the right before breaking into the box and heading wide to go around Hinchliffe. Stockport's keeper did well to block the angled attempt on goal that followed but the loose ball fell for Maynard, eight yards out and his low shot seemed destined to give Salford the lead. Fortunately for County right-back Dan Cowan had stationed himself on the line and was in just the right spot to hack the ball clear.

The game had warmed up nicely despite the increasing January chill and it was Stockport who scored the afternoon’s first goal with thirty-one minutes on the clock. The Hatters had been looking to break quickly, especially on the left flank and Salford’s managerial duo will be disappointed with the way their side was caught cold. Nottingham conceded a foul wide on the right, just inside his own half and Stopforth wasted no time in placing the ball and launching a pass down the line for full-back Scott Duxbury to chase. Quick thinking from Stopforth and Duxbury had far too much time – and space – to weigh up his next move. Salford’s previously rock-solid defence has suffered the odd aberration over recent games and here – with plenty of white shirts knocking around – nobody noticed Stockport’s top scorer Jason Oswell moving ominously towards the edge of the six-yard box. Nobody except Duxbury that is and he clipped in an inch perfect cross for OSWELL to rise and head downwards, beating Crocombe at his right-hand post to record his twenty-second of the season.

A poor goal from Salford’s point of view and it seemed to knock them out of their stride for a little while. The ability to find a white shirt largely deserted them and an understandably encouraged Stockport side began to think about another goal. The best the Ammies could muster in terms of getting an equaliser was a Touray effort from distance that was drifting off target almost as soon as left the boot.

Eight minutes before half-time Oswell went to ground after bouncing off Hogan but the referee correctly ignored the home crowd’s entreaties for a second yellow for Salford’s captain.

The Hatters were on top as the first-half came to a conclusion with a corner just failing to find the head of Chris Smalley and Stephenson finishing off another run with a low angled effort from the left that Crocombe managed to touch around the far post. In the forty-fourth minute Ball lifted a ball into the box from left-of-centre and Stephenson flicked on a header from the edge of the six-yard box. It looked to be dropping under the crossbar but Crocombe flung up an arm in the nick of time to push the ball out for a corner.

Another frustrating half of football for Salford who had looked composed for the first half-hour, creating a few chances without converting any of them. The final fifteen belonged to Stockport who took a chance and could easily have doubled their advantage before the half-time whistle sounded out.

STOCKPORT COUNTY 1 SALFORD CITY 0

The Ammies had some graft to do during the second half but their job could have been made much, much harder within a minute of the restart. County put together a decent passing move that saw possession switch from to Warburton to Oswell then Stephenson whose low ball across the area found Stopforth on the far side. A goal against his old club was beckoning but Crocombe had other ideas, somehow managing to push the low side-footed effort wide of his right-hand stick.

The corner caused no problems and from very nearly going two goals down Salford responded in exactly the right way to level the scores in the forty-ninth minute. An attack built on the left but there seemed to be relatively little danger as Touray’s lofted cross from the left dropped beyond the far post. The Ammies needed a little bit of magic and had just the feller to provide it as REDSHAW controlled the dropping ball exquisitely before turning inside and lashing in a powerful effort that Hinchliffe could only help on its way inside the far post.

A real touch of class from Salford’s top scorer and the Ammies were back definitely back in business.

Even so they soon had more defending to do and in the fifty-fourth minute Adam Thomas played a low ball from the right into the six-yard box with Hogan getting there just before Oswell to concede a corner. Mafuta cleared the set-piece possession fell for Thomas again although he couldn’t keep his shot from twenty yards out down.

Otherwise it seemed that Salford had regained the initiative on the back of a subtle tactical change made for the second half, with Shelton pushing forward more and Allen and Walker switching flanks.

Stockport were being stretched defensively as the Ammies moved the ball around crisply although the final cross or pass wasn’t quite as incisive as it could have been.

On the hour County manager Jim Gannon responded to the turn of the tide by bringing on Winter and Rhys Turner in place of Oswell and Warburton.

The Ammies very nearly unlocked Stockport’s defence again in the sixty-fourth minute as Maynard sprayed a great ball out to the left from a deep position. Shelton was the recipient and he galloped forward before despatching a cross that evaded Hinchliffe but was just too high for Redshaw to go for at the far post.

At the midpoint of the second half County had a stroke of luck as former Ammie O’Halloran was yellow-carded for a scything challenge on Nottingham almost at the corner flag at Salford's. At first sight it seemed worse than the offence that saw Scott Burton sent off at Broadhurst Park on Boxing Day but these sort of decisions really don’t seem to have gone Salford’s way over recent games.

Salford made their first change shortly after that as Mike Phenix came on for Walker who could look back on a very satisfactory first Salford appearance – the lad is certainly a footballer.

The Ammies continued their hunt for a second goal and Redshaw jinked into a yard of space just outside the left-hand angle of the box before whipping in an effort that dropped just outside the far post.

Encouragement for the travelling support but once again the balance of the game began to tip back into Stockport’s favour. Turner’s introduction had given the Hatters an added dimension up front and he was soon making an impact with his mobility and intelligent running. With fifteen minutes left a County corner caused problems for the Salford defence but nobody could turn the ball home and Crocombe finally managed to smother the danger.

With thirteen minutes left a foul on Thomas earned Stockport a centrally positioned free-kick but Ball could only lift the twenty-five yard effort yards over the crossbar.

Josh Askew replaced Allen with a dozen minutes to play and both sides looked intent on scoring another goal during the time that remained. A Redshaw volley from Mafuta’s cross deflected wide for a corner and at the other end a cheeky chipped effort from Turner on the right was clutched underneath the bar by Crocombe. The referee had awarded a couple of soft-ish yellow cards during the afternoon but stood firm in the face of impassioned - and optimistic - claims that Salford’s keeper had carried the ball back over his line.

In the eighty-second minute Stockport made their final substitution of the afternoon as Dixon came on in place of the busy Thomas. The tall midfielder didn’t enjoy the happiest of times at Moor Lane but within thirty seconds of coming on he certainly made an impact on this delicately balanced game. Once again Salford will cast a critical eye on their own defending as Ball was allowed to advance unchecked through the centre before slipping a short pass to the left. The wholly unmarked DIXON was the recipient and kept his composure to place a cool, low finish to Crocombe’s left and inside the far post.

A goal against the run of play in terms of the second half and Salford had it all to do to avoid what would be a third defeat in four outings. Jake Beesley came on for Shelton with five minutes left and the Ammies pushed forward in a desperate attempt to take a share of the spoils back to the Peninsula Stadium.

In the 87th minute Redshaw set off in chase as a controlled Hogan clearance dropped over his head but he had to check back and his shot spun off a defender and behind for a corner. Hogan got onto the end of Touray’s delivery but it was a difficult chance and the ball dropped harmlessly wide of Hinchliffe’s right-hand post.

Salford toiled away but County were running time down intelligently and getting men behind the ball when required. Disappointment was looming for the Ammies but they never know when they are beaten and forced a corner in the third minute of time added on. Stockport pulled everyone back into the box so Crocombe ventured forward to join the crowd, leaving Touray to occupy the centre circle inside Stockport territory, the nearest man to Salford’s goal.

With the vocal encouragement of the away support ringing in his ears Mafuta trotted over to the left for the corner and aimed his delivery towards the edge of the six-yard box. A crowd of players rose as one to meet the ball but it was NOTTINGHAM who made contact, nodding down a header that beat Hinchliffe to his left to earn a point and silence the previously cock-a-hoop home support.

High drama at Edgeley Park and after Salford’s players had celebrated in front of their supporters the game restarted. There was barely time for Stockport to take a couple of touches however before the referee brought an entertaining, full-blooded game to an end.

FULL TIME: STOCKPORT COUNTY 2 SALFORD CITY 2

Late equalisers away from home always feel like winning goals and this one was no exception. Once again the Ammies had dominated for considerable periods of a game without converting chances and had almost emerged empty-handed when they could very conceivably have won.

In the event a draw wasn’t too unfair a result and was certainly an improvement on the two defeats suffered at this venue during the 2016-2017 season.

Salford’s management team took positives from the New Year’s Day draw with FC United and will do the same from this game. New signing Walker looks very useful indeed and up front Redshaw proved to be a real handful for the County defence. The defensive unit at times seemed to have recovered the pre-Chorley resilience but there will – and should be – profound disappointment at the way those two goals were conceded. Above all though they will be pleased with the desire and determination shown by their team, especially when fortune seemed to have turned against them.

One thing that cannot be questioned is the spirit of a side that keeps going to the final whistle and it was that persistence that paid deserved dividends during the dying seconds of this afternoon’s encounter.

A partial return to form then, although more work needs to be done. Darlington will be in no mood to be generous on Wednesday evening and after Telford visit the Peninsula Stadium next Saturday we face games against Harrogate and Brackley who have closed the gap at the top to two and four points respectively.

A massive month but maybe the huge boost of that late Nottingham goal will prove to be the spark that reignites Salford’s promotion push…

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