January signings Ryan Watson and Matt Smith helped Salford City to all three points against Carlisle United (match report here)
Gary Bowyer’s new boys opened their accounts for the club in front of the West Stand home supporters, as the Ammies wheeled away 2-1 winners.
Midfielder Watson opened the scoring from the spot before striker Smith’s glancing header sealed a deserved win.
“I’m really pleased to get that win first and foremost. When you come off the back of a defeat you want a good reaction and I thought from start to finish we were the better side and well worthy of the three points, so I’m delighted!”
Salford started proceedings with a huge chance inside the opening minute which fell to the eventual match-winner Smith. The returning Brandon Thomas-Asante’s shot rebounded into the path of the 32-year-old who hit his effort from close range into the turf and over the bar. The home side continued on the front foot in the first half but couldn’t find a breakthrough.
That changed in the 52nd minute when Salford were awarded their first penalty of the season when Jon Mellish handled a Stephen Kelly shot. Watson dispatched comfortably to the left, but the visitors responded with a goal of their own against the run of play. Counter attacking down the right, a low cross found Omari Patrick who tucked the ball between the legs of Tom King to level the scores.
However as all good goal scorers do, Smith put his earlier chance to the back of his mind and continued to get in the right areas inside the 18-yard box. Just minutes after conceding, Liam Shephard whipped an inch-perfect cross from the right onto the head of the target man, who steered his header just out of reach of the scrambling Mark Howard and inside the far post.
“That chance in the first minute isn’t one I’ll look back on, but like anything you can’t lose confidence. As a centre-forward, the main thing is that you’re getting chances. I’d be far more disappointed – maybe like at Colchester where I didn’t have much of a chance at goal – if I’m missing chances at least I can say to myself I’m getting in the right positions.
“That is ultimately what is going to take us up the table, how we respond to adversity. It’s not going to be plain sailing there’s going to be plenty of weeks where things don’t go for us, for whatever reason, it’s how we respond that will determine how far up the leader board we finish.”
Having signed from the Championship in the winter window, Smith has played a full 90 minutes in all four of his League Two appearances so far, his goal justifying why he has been brought to Moor Lane. At 6 ft 6, Smith has been the focal point of Salford’s attacks and has been a handful in the air for opposition defenders.
Now just three points outside the play-off spots, Smith knows how producing consistent results can quickly carry the Ammies up the table. Saturday’s task is facing Port Vale who sit one place above Salford; a chance for back-to-back home wins and to make ground on the teams ahead beckons.
“It’s a battle but the physical side of the game is something I’ve always relished and enjoyed. I’ve certainly enjoyed the faith the manager has put in me to play all the games so far, every minute of every game, I’ve enjoyed that. It’s up to me to repay his faith with goals, creativity and ultimately wins.
“We can’t keep going win-loss, win-loss. We need to keep putting our wins together and Saturday is our next one and most important one so hopefully, we can do that.”