A dominant Salford City brushed aside Grimsby Town in the Central League on Wednesday afternoon.
Goals from Brandon Thomas-Asante, Luke Burgess and James Wilson secured a 3-0 win against The Mariners, who themselves had two goals ruled out for offside.
The first of those came as early as the second minute when Filipe Morais headed in Julien Lamy’s cross, but the Portuguese had made his run a tad too early and turned disappointingly as the linesman’s flag fluttered in the breeze.
It was actually a bright start for the visitors, with Salford’s only opening falling to Luke Burgess who had the ball cleared away from in front of him by Joe Starbuck as he lined a shot up. A moment later at the other end Morais was in again with a low shot from the right-hand side that Hayden Evans dropped smartly to stop at the near post.
A little less effort was required a couple of minutes later as Sean Scannell’s shot from range, and centrally positioned, lacked much power and was routine for the young American.
As the footballing Gods have often dictated, not taking chances can have severe consequences in in the 16th minute Grimsby fell behind. Oscar Threlkeld displayed some good footwork and a quick shift of body to slip between two Grimsby midfielders before sending a ball forward and high to the left into Thomas-Asante. The 22-year-old with eyes on the goal let fly with a powerful effort that rose into the roof of the net beyond Ollie Battersby’s reach.
That was the turning point Salford needed to assert some control on the game although clear chances weren’t regular, and it wasn’t until the 38th minute that the next one materialised. Threlkeld was again involved as he escaped the attentions of a couple of nearby players and lofted a pass up the right for Wilson to chase. The former Manchester United player did well to round Duncan Idehen and pull a pass back towards Thomas-Asante, but he was closed down before his shot could trouble Battersby.
HALF TIME: Salford City 1-0 Grimsby Town
Like the first half, Grimsby came out with a renewed vigour for the second period and within a minute Evans was called into action. Morais has been struggling with a hamstring injury in recent weeks after signing for the Blundell Park outfit in December, and should have equalised from Scannell’s low cross but for Evans who made a fantastic blocking save, then followed it up with another block before catching Morais’ third attempt from an ever-tightening angle.
A couple of minutes later the 35-year-old latched onto a ball over the top, but was thwarted by Evans as he placed a low shot to the keeper’s right which he kept out with his feet.
Yet again failure to finish haunted Grimsby as Burgess doubled Salford’s lead. The former Wigan Athletic midfielder weaved him way into the box, and was duly brought down by two Town players. He picked himself up and dusted down to take the penalty himself, rolling a low shot to the right of centre with Battersby diving to the left.
Once again the goal brought Salford to life and Thomas-Asante played in George Boyd moments later, only for the ex-Peterborough man to bobble a low cross-come-shot across the face of the goal, begging for a mere touch to help it.
A minute later The Ammies won a corner that was delivered by Liam Loughlan, and Wilson rose highest to plant a header firmly against the crossbar, which pushed the effort up and behind for a goal kick.
Wilson is also on the recovery trail, and also played a part in the previous evening’s Sky Bet League Two victory against Barrow. Just after the hour mark he was celebrating his first goal since picking up that niggle as he excellently controlled Thomas-Asante’s pass from the left, spun and hit a low show beyond Battersby’s reach, who had only seen it late.
With first team manager Paul Hurst watching over, youngster Starbuck burst forward and hit a rising drive from inside the area that Evans parried over the bar. From the subsequent corner Montel Gibson stretched to reach the high cross but was only successful in helping the ball out for a goal kick. Only a couple of minutes later he made a good run around the back to get on the end of Toure Sisay’s cross to the back stick, but like Morais was left unrewarded by the offside flag.
Into the final 10 minutes George Williams should have done better as he nodded a free header onto the roof of the net from a few yards out, but The Mariners’ race was run. For Salford, Boyd hit a shot from distance that bobbled wide of Battersby’s post before setting up Thomas-Asante for what would have been a well-taken second goal as he fired past Grimsby’s 19-year-old custodian, but this time the flag was raised against The Ammies who had to settle for a 3-0 win.
FULL TIME: Salford City 3-0 Grimsby Town
A good win and a good run out for the lads involved, with Hayden Evans in particular putting in an impressive display in front of the watching Richie Wellens, no doubt encouraged that Vaclav Hladky’s understudy is in good shape.
At the other end Brandon Thomas-Asante’s minutes have been limited as of late, and with Ian Henderson in good form James Wilson may have to bide his time for a return, but both looked ready to keep the pressure up and a goal apiece will help their causes.
Oscar Threlkeld was steady and composed in the middle, helping encourage the lads from the Development Squad to get into the game against a similarly statured Grimsby side.
There will be more opportunities in the next couple of weeks with games against Walsall and Scunthorpe United coming up on consecutive Wednesdays, and with the EFL Trophy Final looming as well as an intense fixture schedule, the Central League will provide an opportunity for some players to put themselves into Richie Wellens’ thoughts if required.
Starting XI: Hayden Evans, Mark Howarth, Harry Ditchfield, Oscar Threlkeld, Sam Fielding, Liam Loughlan, Lewis McKinney (James 46′), Luke Burgess, James Wilson (Johnston 71′), Brandon Thomas-Asante, George Boyd.
Subs: Max Williams, Elliot Johnston, Tom Shepherd, Ben Rydel, Tom James