Salford City earned a fully deserved win against Cambridge United inspired by an Ian Henderson brace.
The former Rochdale front man opened the scoring in the first half, pinching possession off Jubril Okedina before converting from 18 yards.
More was to come from the first half as Richie Towell’s sumptuous volley from distance beat Callum Burton before Robbie Gotts slotted home from close range.
The 21-year-old was denied a second by Burton, who was beaten a minute later when Henderson tapped in Ash Hunter’s cross inside the six-yard area.
League leaders Cambridge responded immediately when top scorer Paul Mullin fired home from close range, but Salford saw the game out for a first win in four.
After taking a three-goal lead into the break there was no looking back, and manager Richie Wellens highlighted the importance of those goals on the game.
“They win games but it changes the feel of the games as well. When you’re on top like I felt we was for the majority of the first half, and you take your chances, it gives you belief and it changes the opposition’s mindset as well. I thought it was very similar to Oldham with the chances and the areas that we got into, but this week we took our chances.
“In terms of our five pressing players – Henderson, Gotts and Towell behind him, and our two wing backs whichever side it was on – they started our press off really well and gave us a good platform out of possession to build from but then some of the football we played in the first half was really good as well.”
After three consecutive postponements, there was praise too for the ground staff for managing to avoid another postponement.
“We have to give credit to everyone for getting the game on but also for changing the kick off time to half five because you see how cold it is now, the pitch hardened up the last 20 minutes and if we was kicking off at 7pm the game wouldn’t have gone ahead.”
HENDERSON ON form
The 36-year-old now has three goals in two, and four in his last five, to take his tally to 11 for the season. He was pivotal up top, linking up well with Towell and Gotts, including setting the Leeds United youngster up for his goal.
Despite the plunging conditions, the top scorer was pleased with the outcome of the game and says that Salford’s system is starting to find its rhythm.
“100% right it was baltic this evening but the boys did the job in the first half, took the chances well then see the game off in the second half. It was pretty fortunate to finish because it started freezing over three quarters of the way through the second half, but once again we were really, really happy with the performance and three points.
“I think it works for the squad, the personnel we’ve got within the squad. We’ve got boys that want to press, that are willing to press with a high press, and the first goal as an example, we won the ball high up and converted the chance, and created many more chances during the game with that high press.”
The Ammies remain ninth in League Two, but Henderson feels that the top seven are there to be caught after moving seven points behind the leaders.
“It’s striking distance and I think we’ve got maybe games in hand as well so it’s down to us to do the business on the pitch and take full responsibility for it.”