Djavan Pedro’s stunning stoppage time finish secured a 3-2 win for the Under-18s against Rochdale in the FA Youth Cup First Round.
The young Ammies led 2-0 early in the firsts half courtesy of goals from Ben Finley and Anton Smith before Luke Nock pulled one back from the spot.
A goal five minutes from time by Joe Wright seemed to be sending the game to extra time, but a divine piece of skill from Pedro made sure of Salford’s progress to face either Tranmere Rovers or Hyde Untied.
It was a lively start in the low mists floating over The Peninsula Stadium, but the first chance went the way of the visitors as Wright demonstrated the full effects of his pace for the first time. He broke away on the right-hand side and picked out Kwadwo Baah in space at the top of the area but his low shot was fired wide of the left-hand post.
An early warning but Salford responded brightly and started to exert their influence. Ben Rydel’s shot from 20 yards was curled over in the third minute before Smith’s low drive went wide of the post after a break on the right.
An open game was developing, and in the 10th minute Salford edged themselves in front. Finley attacked from the right and was allowed to move in-field to find himself in a shooting position and from just left of centre he let fly with a curled shot into the top corner.
A very well taken goal and not too dis-similar from the type of goal we have become accustomed to seeing from James Wilson for the first team.
Chances continued to formulate and in the 13th minute Phil Perry’s free-kick tempted Lucas Kirnon for a header, but coming from it at just the wrong angle he headed wide. The full back was involved in the second goal though as he recovered after losing possession with a block that came to Finley. He quickly shifted possession onto Smith who blasted a low shot that deflected into the roof of the net to double Salford’s lead inside 20 minutes.
Finley went for his second minutes after as he dipped a shot over the crossbar, but Rochdale responded with a Wright effort that flashed just past the upright.
Things settled down before Rochdale’s influence on the game began to increase and on the half hour mark they pulled a goal back. A long ball forward was chased by Wright, and after Hayden Evans slipped there was a mis-communication which resulted in Perry clipping Wright. A penalty was awarded and converted by Luke Nock, who sent Evans the wrong way.
Dale used the nook that Nock had given them and Louie Chorlton showed good tenacity to send a low cross into the middle that was met by Peter Thomas, but his shot on the turn was blocked at close range.
The visitors continued to search for an equaliser as Sam Carr was dispossessed by Thomas, but his pass towards an unmarked Baah was intercepted by Rydel and the danger was averted.
Late in the half Tom Shepherd had an opportunity to restore Salford’s two-goal cushion but he glanced a header wide from Kirnon’s cross.
The second half was a more controlled affair, although Dale had more of the chances. Substitute Jordan Scanlon delivered a good corner just after the break which was headed over by Morgan Kinsella, and the centre-back would have another opportunity at the hour mark but this time his close range shot was blocked.
In the 68th minute Scanlon was sallowed to advance into the area, but his shot was blocked by a defender and gathered by Evans. Salford broke and Jayden Timmis fed a pass through to Finley, but his low shot was deflected wide by Ben Chalton in the Rochdale net and the subsequent corner was cleared.
Wright though, who had caused problems with his pace all night, did find an equaliser in the 85th minute. A run from deep went unchecked and he kept his composure to place a low shot that Evans came out to meet, but couldn’t get enough on to keep out of the net.
However with extra time looming Salford made one last push forward. A throw-in on the right was flung into the box by Smith and came to Pedro who very calmly let the ball sit up perfectly for a dipping volley that just dropped under the crossbar giving Chalton no chance, and sending Salford into the Second Round for just the second time!
Salford: Evans, Kirnon, Perry, Rydel, Carr, Ando, Shepherd, Timmis (c), Pedro (90+4′), Smith (19′), Finley (10′).
Subs: Lescott, Rose, Berry, Jones, Roberts, Bartram, Ghaly.