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Team Sheet

Sutton United
26
Jamie Butler
2
Dale Bennett
3
Aswad Thomas
Red card for Aswad Thomas
5
Charlie Clough
6
Jamie Collins (c)
8
Kenny Davis
9
Ross Lafayette
1 goals for Ross Lafayette

Beckwith '75

11
Kieron Cadogan

Drinan '65

15
Craig Eastmond
1 goals for Craig Eastmond Yellow card for Craig Eastmond
20
Tommy Wright

Taylor '58

21
Dan Wishart
Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
4
Gus Mafuta

Haughton '68

5
Liam Hogan (c)
6
Carl Piergianni
1 goals for Carl Piergianni Yellow card for Carl Piergianni
8
Lois Maynard
Yellow card for Lois Maynard
9
Adam Rooney
18
Danny Whitehead
19
Mark Shelton

Walker '68

30
Rory Gaffney

Rodney '77

Substitutes
4
Dean Beckwith
7
Tom Bolarinwa
19
Harry Beautyman
23
Josh Taylor
24
Aaron Drinan
Substitutes
7
Nick Haughton
11
Tom Walker
12
Max Crocombe
21
Devante Rodney
23
Nathan Pond
Managers
Manager - Paul Doswell
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Match Officals
Referee - Richard Hulme
Assistant Referee - Daniel Berry
Assistant Referee - Joshua Ainscow
Fourth Official - Craig Robson

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Match
Report

Salford City's shaky start to the season continued this afternoon as ten-man Sutton United scrapped to a 2-1 win at the Knights Community Stadium. As at Gateshead in midweek the day had started well for Graham Alexander's men who went ahead courtesy of a 20th minute header from Carl Piergianni. Unfortunately there were to be other similarities to Tuesday's trip north as the Ammies lost their way in the second half.Despite Sutton having a man red-carded with 36 minutes to play Salford failed to take advantage and it's difficult to make a case for them deserving a point.

There were changes from the side that lost at the Gateshead International Arena, with Tom Walker & Nick Haughton replaced by Gus Mafuta and Mark Shelton. Summer signing Devante Rodney was on the bench for the first time, having recovered from injury.

Gander Green Lane is a famous old non-league ground with supporters of a certain vintage remembering United's dramatic FA Cup win over top division Coventry City in January 1989. The Sky Blues and Salford City were light years apart then yet now only two divisions separate them. Nevertheless it would be the fancied side who came to grief again today.

The afternoon's first incident of any note came in the 3rd minute when Sutton's Dan Wishart met a dropping clearance just outside the box, It was a decent hit but Salford keeper Chris Neal was behind it all the way.

A sniff of a chance for the home side but Salford countered with Rory Gaffney holding up play before squaring a ball for Mark Shelton. The midfielder's right-of-centre effort from distance flicked off a defender then the top of the bar on its way out for a corner. Danny Whitehead's set-piece went short to Shelton who moved the ball to the right where Gus Mafuta used his strength to poke a pass into the area. Defender Piergianni had gone up for the set-piece but he could only hook a left-footer wide of Jamie Butler's right-hand post,

Tommy Wright's pace and movement looked likely to create Sutton chances and with 10 minutes played he burst past a defender into the box. Big striker Ross Lafayette had advanced into a little space but the delivery had too much height and pace for him to get to.

The Ammies were beginning to look dangerous too and Whitehead floated a corner from the right towards the far post. Piergianni's header dropped to the right-hand angle of the 6-yard box where Gaffney's cheeky attempt at a back-heel was blocked by home skipper Jamie Collins. Soon after that a lofted Liam Hogan pass fell for Gaffney on the right and he controlled deftly before tucking the ball inside. Shelton had started the game positively and from right-of-centre slammed in a powerful effort that Butler couldn't hold on to. The ball went loose but Sutton were let off the hook as the referee had spotted a Salford infringement.

This was shaping up to being a good spell for the Ammies and in the 18th minute Shelton's diagonal ball to the left picked out Lois Maynard. The midfielder held off a defender to get into the box then poked in a rising 12-yarder that Butler did well to turn around the post for a corner. Whitehead took the set-piece from left and his delivery arrived on the edge of the 6-yard box. So did an unmarked PIERGIANNI who had timed his run to perfection before thumping an unstoppable header into the net.

A lead that Salford had been threatening to take but their hosts looked to hit back immediately. Dale Bennett whipped in a cross from deep on the right but although Lafayette got up to meet it he could only glance in an effort that bounced well wide of the keeper's right-hand upright.

The game would develop a bit of an edge during the second half but we had a foretaste midway through the first. Piergianni went to ground clutching his face but despite an apparent head injury the referee allowed play to continue. Salford's concerned physio made his way onto the pitch only to be ordered back off but fortunately Piergianni was able to continue. The game, which had turned into a big row, was eventually restarted with a drop-ball that Salford punted back to Sutton.

Sutton's best chance of an equaliser seemed to be via their flanks and in the 27th minute Kieron Cadogan delivered a peach of a cross from wide on the left. Wishart was the target on the edge of the 6-yard box but Ibou Touray did well, getting there first to launch a timely clearance. Within another 60 seconds United won a free-kick on the right and this time it was the turn of Aswad Thomas to provide a quality delivery, Central defender Charlie Clough looked certain to test visiting keeper Neal but from close range somehow failed to get his head to it,

Sutton had been applying pressure since going behind and just past the half-hour Wright latched onto Lafayette's flick then got into the box on the right. A low drilled ball into the middle followed and there were yellow shirts around but the one that mattered was white as Piergianni lumped the ball clear.

Wishart's pass sent Bennett galloping away on the right next but another teasing cross flew across the face of goal without getting a touch.

United were certainly knocking on the door and it was no real surprise when they got a leveller, 10 minutes before the break. Cadogan nudged a pass out to the right for Bennett whose cross beyond the far post was picked up by Wishart. A tuck inside was followed up by a short pass back to Craig Eastmond who had time and space to operate in, From 12 yards out and a little left of centre EASTMOND hit a rising drive that beat Neal conclusively to his left.

The scoreline reflected the game quite accurately at this point but United could have gone ahead in spectacular style in the 40th minute. Eastmond obviously fancied his luck again and after seeing Neal off his line tried a 40-yard dipper that dropped no more than a foot over the crossbar.

The final chance of the half came during its last minute as Sutton failed to clear their lines and Clough seemed to slip at an unfortunate moment. The ball sat up quite nicely for Rooney but he got underneath his first-time effort from the edge of the box and the chance was gone.

SUTTON UNITED 1 SALFORD CITY 1

Sutton had finished the first-half well but for the first half-dozen of the second they found themselves more or less pinned inside their own half. Within the opening minute Eastmond had been yellow-carded for a heavy challenge on Maynard and the Ammies won a corner after the free-kick that followed. Whitehead's delivery from the right was tipped out for another corner by the stertching Butler and Sutton were finding it difficult to get hold of the ball.

Despite plenty of early possession Salford didn't really create a chance and it was Sutton who went closest to adding to the scoring. Lafayette did well to fairly wrestle possession outside the Salford penalty area before passing to Cadogan on the right. He was in the middle when the cross came back in, getting in a looping header followed that Neal watched all the way before wisely electing to tip the ball over.

In the 54th minute Whitehead and Thomas tussled for possession inside the Sutton half and on the left. The Salford man went down and as Thomas made his way past him seemed flick a back-heel at his opponent. The referee was watching with interest and really had no option other than show the United left-back the red card.

A silly way to get sent off but the Ammies now had a good opportunity to take control of the game. It's fair to say that they wouldn't manage to do that and Sutton would never look like a team playing with a man short.

From the free-kick given for Thomas' indiscretion Shelton tried a 25-yarder from right-of-centre that hit a defender before dropping over the bar. The set-piece was cleared but we had another little bit of controversy in the 56th minute. Rooney was in front of Sutton's Collins as the two contested a header - there was a little bit of accidental contact and the home defender reacted by shoving Rooney to the ground. It looked as if the crown of Rooney's head made contact with Collins' chin and he had to have a bandage wrapped around his head to protect the injury. Not pleasant but it could have been worse for the Sutton man had the referee taken a dimmer view of a pretty meaty and aggressive shove.

While Collins was receiving treatment - and a clean shirt - on the sidelines Salford understandably looked to exert some pressure on the 9 men ranged against them. Touray curled in a cross from the right but Hogan's diving header in the middle was off-target, with Collins returning to the fray immediately afterwards.

The Ammies were looking reasonably comfortable as the game entered its final half-hour, no doubt anticipating their hunt for a winning goal. They were soon faced with a slightly different priority however and their problems were very much of their own making. Scott Wiseman's attempt to place a pass down the right was blocked on the halfway line by home substitute Josh Taylor. Liam Hogan had a hard time with the bounce of the loose ball on Sutton's 3G surface and Taylor took full advantage, bursting into acres of space on the flank. Salford were dangerously stretched and having drawn the cover and reached the area Taylor unselfishly rolled a square ball to the right for LAFAYETTE to guide a low finish into the empty net.

Home manager Paul Doswell brought on Aaron Drinan for Cadogan after that, setting out his stall to protect the lead.

In fact Drinan almost engineered an extension to that advantage, sliding a good pass out to the right for Bennett. The cross was a dangerous one but in the end Wiseman got across, doing enough to prevent Eastmond from getting in a header.

Salford needed a goal and Piergianni's long, lofted diagonal ball from deep on the left was helped on by Rooney. Shelton had a sight of goal but from an angle failed to get any curve on an arrow-straight effort that flew across goal and well wide of the far post.

With 22 minutes left Salford introduced Walker & Haughton for Mafuta & Shelton and they started to see more of the ball in areas that might just hurt the home side. Gaffney did well to move the ball from left to right and Wiseman strode forward to hit a rising, right-of-centre drive that whistled not too far past the far angle of post and bar.

With 20 minutes to play Walker's corner from the left seemed to be destined for the head of Hogan at the far post until Clough got up in the nick of time to glance the ball away. It was Haughton's turn to take the next corner, this time from the right but although Maynard got to it his header went wide.

Time was ticking away from Salford and a committed, well-organised Sutton side was largely holding them at bay. A little bit of sloppiness had crept into the Ammies' play since they had gone behind and there seemed to be a real sense of belief coursing through their opponents.

There were still some passages of good football and one of them saw a number of passes exchanged before the ball dropped towards Haughton. He decided to have a go but the left-footed effort, 25 yards out and right-of-centre, soared high into the air and went out for a goal-kick just inside the corner flag.

A touch of frustration was beginning to show among Salford's players and Piergianni was booked for clattering Drinan as the Sutton man threatened to make a break.

With 8 minutes to left the Ammies almost shot themselves in the other foot, carelessly giving possession away just outside their own area. Sutton's substitutes had been lively and here Drinan found Taylor wide on the right. A sharp pass inside set up Eastmond but from just outside the box he could only hit a shot straight at Neal.

Drinan was at it again with seconds, advancing diagonally from right to left. He almost broke through on goal but in the end Hogan and Whitehead combined to force him off the ball.

Maynard saw yellow for a nudge on the advancing Eastmond then Wishart flashed a 25-yarder wide of Neal's right-hand post from a central position.

The indication of 5 minutes time to be added on encouraged the travelling support behind Butler's goal but though their side huffed and puffed, there was no way through. A few balls were played into the box but Sutton were in no mood to relinquish their grip on the points and were seeing the extra time out intelligently.

The late big chance Salford so badly needed failed to materialise and they were left to reflect on a second away defeat inside 4 days.

SUTTON UNITED 2 SALFORD CITY 1

Not too many people expected Salford City to emerge from their opening three National League games with just a single point. There has been some good stuff played during that trio of fixtures but in the final analysis, not enough.

Three times the Ammies have gone ahead only to be pegged back, and twice overtaken. That should underline what a competitive league we now find ourselves in - and, in all truth - what a prized scalp we have become.

Sutton seemed to relish the challenge of playing with 10 men and did it well, restricting their visitors to a handful of half-chances - a textbook exercise in playing one man short in fact.

There has, of course, been plenty of comings and goings this summer, and the side needs to gel. Pre-season cannot recreate competitive conditions but with two testing home games coming up over the next week progress has to be made very quickly.

It's early days, let's not forget, with 43 games yet to play - the comfort of a convincing display would be welcome however and the target for that is Halifax's visit to the Peninsula Stadium on Tuesday.

Attendance 1,858 (91 Salford)

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