Salford City earned a ‘deserved’ win against Morecambe in the EFL Trophy at The Peninsula Stadium on Tuesday night.
A first goal of the season for James Wilson put the dominant Ammies ahead just before the break, before birthday boy Ash Hunter came off the bench and scored at the end of the second half.
There were plenty more opportunities for Salford to have extended their lead while Morecambe didn’t create much themselves; debutant goalkeeper Hayden Evans enjoyed a relatively untroubled evening between the sticks to record a clean sheet on his first appearance.
A first win puts Salford third in the group, a point behind our final opponents Rochdale ahead of that game on Tuesday 10th November, but for now Graham Alexander was satisfied with ‘a fantastic night’.
“The team played well right from the start, I thought we were really aggressive on the front foot, passed the ball really well, had loads of energy, there was good partnerships all over the pitch and going in at half time 1-0 up was thoroughly deserved.
“It was an excellent team performance from everybody, I was so, so pleased to see the blend work well – the experienced players lead the young players, the young players to have the confidence to go out and play – and all in all it was a fantastic night.”
A positive Ammies played with intensity from the off, and Ibou Touray’s early free kick was tipped over the bar by Mark Halstead. Bruno Andrade was also denied on a couple of occasions throughout the first half while Alex Denny bent a shot wide from a good position before Wilson broke his duck in the 44th minute, lashing in a first goal since his debut in February from close range.
Morecambe creed a couple more chances in the second period but didn’t test Evans too strenuously, and failed to take advantage of a spell with the upper hand. When Nathaniel Knight-Percival guided a header towards the top corner, Andrade of all people was back on the goal line to block and clear.
With Derek Adams urging his team forward in search of an equaliser and a chance at qualifying from the group for the first time in four years more space was opening up, and Hunter exploited that in stoppage time as Salford broke on the right with Andrade. The Portuguese’s low cross was perfectly weighted as Hunter arrived to finish from inside the area and give Salford a chance at qualification themselves.
A DIFFERENT TARGET
It was a complete, rounded performance from The Ammies who now need a win at Rochdale to qualify, and the Gaffer had praise for the whole team and their contributions to the win.
“All goal scorers want to score goals and we see Willo’s finishing day in, day out in training and it’s frightening to be fair. You know if you can get him in the final third and around the box that he’s lethal and it was an excellent finish.
“There were some real good partnerships; the front two, their movement and link-up play was good; the midfield two were excellent in Alex Denny and Martin Smith, I thought they were fantastic; the back four getting to know each other, that’s why we wanted to play them tonight because they’re a new back four but another clean sheet for them which is great, protected Hayden exceptionally well; and I thought Liam and Bruno worked their socks off and had some good link up play with their full-backs; and the subs that came on had a real good impact so delighted for everyone.
“We’ve maybe got a different target with this competition this season than we possibly had last season but we are blooding youngsters like we did in the last game and tonight. I think it’s important that we try to give them that game time, but they have to earn it and that’s the biggest thing for me.
“We’ll just go into our next game when it comes round trying to win the game. It’ll be a mixed up team probably but I’ll be really happy if we get a replica performance to tonight because I was so pleased to see how we played tonight.”
READ: Match Report