A late Harrogate Town goal denied Salford City the chance to move into the top three after a 2-2 draw at The Peninsula Stadium.
Robbie Gotts opened the scoring in the first half on his home debut before Jack Muldoon equalised for the visitors after a mistake at the back.
A shift in formation and approach saw Brandon Thomas-Asante restore The Ammies’ lead, but a late Ed Francis goal after Salford failed to clear a corner secured Town a point.
While the unbeaten home record remains in tact, another couple of dropped points was disappointing for manager Richie Wellens.
“I thought for the first 20-25 minutes we were very good, looked to be in control of the game, score a goal then we drop off, give too many free kicks away, it becomes more of a scrappy game, second ball game, and they’re probably better at that than what we are.
We spoke to them at half time and said if we want to play that time of game then maybe we need to change the personnel so we let it go 10 minutes, carried on in the same manner not winning second balls, giving free kicks away, every time we give a free kick away or a throw-in it goes in the box therefore we changed shape which worked to a certain extent, we get the second goal then we’re in total control of the game but we’re having possession on the half way line rather than a little bit further up the pitch, still looking for a third.
“But the goal was really poor, to give the corner away, to allow someone on the ball, and our body shape is wrong at the back stick allowing a winger to get in behind, we give a chance away, give a corner away the goal was offside.
“At the moment we’re going in the lead then we’re sitting at the back, and when we equalise we want to go for the second goal. We want to go 1-0 up then not change our mindset, not change the way we’re playing, we want to go for a second goal.”
Gotts scoring against his hometown club was always a storyline on the cards, and the goal was well-crafted as Oscar Threlkeld – on his 50th appearance – played ball up to the youngster at the top of the box who swivelled and placed a shot tight into the bottom corner.
There was a debut too for Tom James, and third January signing Paul Coutts also came on for his first appearance, but Gotts’ performances so far have been encouraging.
“I thought he was outstanding all night, his energy, his decision-making, he played two or three through balls as well, I thought he was really, really good and it’s been difficult for them.
“We’ve had two debuts today, they haven’t trained with use which makes things really difficult. We pick a team, James Wilson has to pull out this morning, since Newport Ash Eastham hasn’t trained because he had a B-team game at Scunthorpe.
“Tom Clarke has had seven stitches in his foot and hasn’t been able to train so we haven’t been able to know if Clarkey’s foot was ok, he only trained very lightly yesterday so it’s been a little bit of a mix and match week in terms of our preparation and training and I thought at times we were really, really good but then at times we went back to bad old habits.”
Salford move up to fourth ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, and welcome current leaders Cambridge United to The Peninsula Stadium on Tuesday.