Salford City came from a goal down to win at Rochdale and qualify for the knockout stages of the Papa John’s Trophy.
League One Dale took the lead when former Ammie Jake Beesley scored in the eighth minute, and trailed at the break despite having the better chances with Bruno Andrade hitting the crossbar.
The Portuguese made amends with a well struck free-kick which beat Jay Lynch to level the scores early in the second half, his second goal in as many games.
A draw wouldn’t have been enough for Salford even if they won the bonus point in a shootout, but as it turned out it would take a penalty to win the game. Substitute Mani Dieseruvwe was held in the box at a corner, and composed himself to score from 12 yards thus completing the comeback.
After a heavy defeat to Manchester United Under-21s in the opening group game things didn’t look promising for the 2019-20 finalists, but once again the squad have demonstrated the strength in depth to qualify.
New boss Richie Wellens made 10 changes to the side that started against Hartlepool, and with his first league game in charge at Bolton on Friday evening it was no surprise. However he was pleased at the way the players took to the challenge and earned a deserved victory.
“Outstanding, every single one of them! We spoke to them before the game about trying to create a culture at the club where we want to win obviously, but then with a certain style in the way that we want to win.
“These lads have trained with us now for four or five days, albeit not in the main team, but they’ve seen the things we’re trying to do and to be honest that team was picked by Warren and Chris Casper so they have to take credit.
“I’m really pleased, I thought it was an outstanding performance against a League One team that are doing okay, they’re mid-table in League One, and they played their near-strongest team.”
Dieseruvwe has had to be patient for his opportunity at the start of this season, but after scoring in extra time against Hartlepool he made it two goals in two games. A collected finish from the penalty spot sent Lynch the wrong way and secured an important three points, and now the 25-year-old is targeting more goals if he continues to get a chance.
“I’m very pleased to get back involved in the team, I’ve just been training hard with all the boys, kept my head down and tried to be as professional as possible, wait for my chance and thankfully with the new Gaffer coming in he’s restored some faith in me and I’ve managed to get a couple of goals in the first two games.
“As soon as I won the penalty I wanted to take it, get another goal and it’s nice to see it hit the back of the net. Moving forward now hopefully I can try and be more involved, I play hard for the team whenever I’m called upon and hopefully I can get some more goals.
“We dealt with their experience quite well, I think we’re a good team, played some good football, moved the ball well and created some good opportunities and I think we could have got a few more to be fair, the Gaffer said that in the changing room after, with a bit more composure we could have scored a couple more goals.”
It’s a quick turnaround for Salford into Friday night’s clash with Bolton Wanderers, live on Sky Sports.