Crying Shayme For Gallant Ammies
Salford City's campaign came to a cruel end as they were beaten on penalties following a 2-2 aggregate draw with FC Halifax Town
SUNDAY 7th MAY 2017
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL SECOND LEG
FC HALIFAX TOWN 1 SALFORD CITY 1 (AET, 0-0 AFTER 90 MINS, AGG 2-2, 3-0 ON PENS)
Salford City’s bid for a third successive promotion came to the cruellest of possible ends at The Shay after a pulsating second leg had failed to separate the two sides. Having finished level on aggregate after 210 minutes of football the tie was decided on penalties and The Ammies lost that shoot-out by three kicks to nil. Not a fitting way for such an uplifting campaign to end but the players can hold their heads up high and fully deserved the ovation they received from over 500 travelling supporters.
There was a single change from the first leg line-up as Nick Haughton was handed a starting role with John Johnston dropping down the bench.
With spectators queuing to get into a sun bathed Shay, kick-off was delayed by fifteen minutes and when the game eventually got underway it was the home side who displayed their attacking intent first. Within the opening 30 seconds Matty Kosylo’s surging run on the right took him past a couple of opponents before he was eventually stopped in his tracks. Home skipper Kevin Roberts picked up possession then whipped a cross into the box only for a defender to get the ball clear.
The Shaymen were going for an early goal with Kosylo in particular looking threatening but the visiting defence was looking reassuringly sturdy. In the 5th minute Halifax’s number 7 was pushing forward again on the right but this time he’d been tracked by opposite number Haughton who got on a great tackle in the left-back position. A good ball up the flank set Mike Phenix off on a run but home keeper Sam Johnson had spotted the danger, racing out to the angle of his box to put in a clearance.
Having repelled enemy forays down their left Salford had to concentrate on the other flank next as Josh Wilde and Dion Charles combined well, but when the delivery came it was again met by a no-nonsense clearance.
A good start from the home side but they hadn’t manged to crack their opponents open and Salford began to get forward themselves. A couple of corners and long Josh Hine throws gave Halifax’s defence some work to do but despite the pressure Johnson was not unduly troubled.
Wide-men Kosylo and Charles had both started the game well and in the 17th minute the latter cut inside from the left only for his 20-yarder to fly well wide of the far post. Charles threatened again shortly afterwards, picking up the ball on the left before slamming in an angled effort that Lynch parried at his near post. The loose ball fell for Charles again and this time he lobbed a cross to the far post with a white-shirted defender knocking the ball behind at the expense of another corner.
Midway through the first half Haughton did well to work himself some space just inside Salford’s half before playing a long pass that again sent Phenix away on the left. For a moment it seemed that The Ammies’ top-scorer would get away from Scott Garner but the home defender unfairly impeded his progress. Garner was yellow-carded for that challenge but Walker’s subsequent free-kick dropped over everyone’s head in the middle and eventually out for a throw-in on the far side.
Both teams were looking for a goal and it was Halifax’s turn next as Roberts again joined the attack to good effect, curling in a very decent cross from the right. The ball fell to the feet of defender Matty Brown but from fifteen yards out an unorthodox flicked effort went wide of Lynch's left-hand post.
Plenty going on so far but we had a 10 minute lull in the action as the respective defences stamped their authority for a while, but there was a goal in the air again as half-time approached. Seven minutes before the interval Phenix got almost to the line on the left, having first overcome Garner’s shirt-tugging then outpaced the already booked Halifax defender. A clipped cut-back fell into the path of David Norris whose angled effort lacked the pace and power to get past Johnson.
A decent opportunity for The Ammies but it was Halifax who very nearly opened the afternoon’s scoring in the 43rd minute. A long ball forward from Johnson bounced its way into the Salford penalty area and Charles managed to get onto the end of it before poking low past Lynch. It was on target but the ball lacked momentum and Michael Nottingham was able to get back and sweep up the danger.
Halifax were finishing the half strongly and in the last minute Jordan Sinnott’s corner from the left was aimed at giant central striker Tom Denton. The big number 9 got a touch, with the ball falling temptingly for Charles whose 6-yard overhead effort dropped narrowly wide of Lynch’s right-hand post.
Two added minutes yielded no further opportunities and a lively half finished without a goal being scored.
HALF TIME: FC HALIFAX TOWN 0 SALFORD CITY 0
Everything to play for as the game got back underway and Kosylo started the second half as he had the first – causing problems for Salford’s defence. The former Nantwich Town man did well to control a header forward before turning smartly and hitting a 22-yarder from well right-of-centre. Not a bad effort but Lynch was not tested as the low shot drifted outside his right-hand upright.
Kosylo was at it again a couple of minutes later after Sinnott’s long thrown from the right fell for him 15 yards out. It was an awkward chance that had to be taken quickly and he could only hit an effort that was yards high and wide of Lynch’s left-hand post.
Encouraging for the 3,000+ Halifax fans in attendance but The Ammies almost went ahead from their next attack, barely a minute later. Phenix played a clever one-two with Jordan Hulme and was just about to get in an angled shot from the right until Garner got across to put in a beautifully timed sliding challenge.
The resulting corner was cleared but Salford soon had another and as usual it was Walker who took it, dropping a cross onto the edge of the 6-yard box, towards the far post. Fraser Horsfall has proven adept at causing problems in the opponent’s penalty area but this time he got underneath a header that flew high over the crossbar.
End-to-end stuff and sure enough the next opening went the way of Halifax as Denton’s header, back-to-goal, picked out Sinnott on the right. A neat pass forward gave Kosylo the chance to run again and he made for the line before drilling in a low cross that Lynch did well to smother.
Salford managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley made their first change after that, replacing Haughton with James Poole, scorer of that dramatic late leveller in the first leg. An attacking change for The Ammies but the next chance fell for Halifax and it produced the best save of the game so far as Lynch instinctively raised his right-hand to claw away a headed effort from – perhaps – Charles.
A great stop on afternoon that had seen plenty of attacking football without the keepers being tested too severely. Down at the South Stand end Poole’s pass found Josh Hine on the right and his pacy cross was headed up into the air by Roberts with a defensive colleague just about managing to complete the clearance.
Salford’s second change of personnel came just before the hour mark as Richie Allen came on for Hine.
Charles did well on the left on the 60th minute, stepping on the gas to accelerate past no less than 3 opponents but undid that great work with an over-hit cross that ran out of play. He was in creative mood again less than 60 seconds later, sliding a pass to the left that found Wilde in space inside the penalty area. There were options for Halifax’s left-back but again the cross had too much power, with Kosylo unable to keep the ball in just beyond the far post.
This was a good spell for the home side as they used their flanks well, pressurising a Salford defence that had to be on its collective toes if Lynch’s goal was to be protected. Sinnott was the next to get in a cross but this time Brown could only head over the bar from 10 yards out.
The game continued to ebb and flow and for Salford Norris flicked on a header that Nottingham chased into the box, only for Nathan Hotte to get across with a very solid challenge. The corner was cleared, overhead by Sinnott, but Allen was there to collect the ball wide on Salford’s left. The cross from deep was an inch or two too high for Horsfall who couldn’t quite keep his 8-yard header down sufficiently to worry Johnson.
There was little sign of a let-up in the action and with 20 minutes left Walker – returning to his old Shay stamping ground – dispossessed Charles on Salford’s left. A long ball up the flank followed but again Johnson read the danger, advancing quickly to punt clear from Phenix.
Neither side was willing to give ground and Hulme was booked in the 74th minute for trip on Brown as the Halifax man steered a pass back to keeper Johnson.
The tension was cranking up but Salford were urged on by their terrific away support and as full time approached they seemed to be gaining the upper hand. With 12 minutes left Allen slipped past Roberts on the left-hand side of the box, leaving Town’s skipper on the turf. A run for the line followed before the Ammies' forward tried a rising shot that cleared the bar by a yard. We’ve seen Richie put those away in the past but this time he couldn’t keep the acutely angled effort down.
The Ammies went even closer a moment later after Hulme’s powerful run inside from the right was followed by a deft little pass into the area for Poole. This was a big chance but again it had to be taken quickly as the formidable form of Johnston closed in and Poole’s shot from the right-hand angle of the 6-yard box deflected off the keeper and over the bar.
A goal now might well prove decisive but neither side was prepared to play safe and with 8 minutes to play Kosylo – quiet for a while – slid a forward pass to the feet of Charles. A little touch inside opened up some space but Charles looked off-balance as he let fly with an effort that flew high and wide of the target.
Salford’s turn again and Hulme’s crafty back-heel into the right-hand side of the box was picked up by Poole. With defenders in his way the former Hartlepool man tucked a pass back for Hulme who blasted an effort high over the crossbar from just inside the angle of the area.
There were a couple more corners and throw-ins for The Ammies after that but that little flash of real quality still evaded them and they couldn’t force a way past the home defence. In the penultimate minute Charles – who had put in a tremendous shift – made way for Richard Peniket as home manager Billy Heath set out his stall for 30 minutes of extra time. On the field his side were doing their best to snatch a late winner and the quietly effective Denton again did well to control with back to goal before turning a pass out into the path of Sinnott on the right. The ball was moved on to Kosylo who got into the area before having a powerful shot blocked by Steve O’Halloran.
Down at the other end a poor kick from Johnson gifted possession to Hulme who advanced through the inside right channel before aiming a cross towards the far side of the penalty area. Allen was there but could only direct an effort into the side-netting with the assistant’s flag raised for offside into the bargain.
In the 3rd minute of time added on Kosylo launched a cross from deep on the right but beyond the far post Brown could only get in a downwards header that dropped a foot wide of the post.
90 MINUTES: FC HALIFAX TOWN 0 SALFORD CITY 0
Both sets of fans got behind their teams as the game moved into the first half of extra time, and for Salford John Johnston came on for Phenix. News had filtered through that Chorley had overturned a one goal deficit at Kiddeminster – the incentive for both sides was now a home game in the final.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the breathless pace had abated a little but the first chance of extra time produced the afternoon’s first goal. Poole penalised for a challenge on Kosylo and Sinnott had the chance to deliver a centrally positioned free-kick into the area. The ball fell for Denton, juar right of centre 8 yards out and the big man got to it, directing a nicely judged header inside and into the danger area. Subsitute Peniket had scored Town’s goal at Moor Lane in midweek and repeated the dose here, diving in to crash an unstoppable header past Lynch from 10 yards out.
Pandemonium in the home end as Halifax’s supporters celebrated the breaking of the deadlock in their side’s favour and The Ammies had some urgent work to do. The visiting fans rose to the task, roaring their lads on and Poole met a clearance with a left-of-centre volley that crashed into Town’s Danny Clarke. Salford were determined to hit back and in the 101st minute they won a free-kick, 22 yards out and wide on the right. Players from both teams crowded into the box but Walker almost caught out his old side, aiming a curling effort towards the near post instead of delivering the expected cross into the centre. Johnson was forced to scuttle to his left at speed but was fortunate to see Walker’s audacious effort clip off the base of his left-hand stick before rolling down the side-netting.
Ever so close for the visitors but they also had some defending to do as Sinnott’s pass to the left found Peniket whose low effort from distance was easy for Lynch. In the 10th minute a clearance fell for Roberts on the right-hand angle of the area and he tried an ambitious lobbed effort that dropped not too far wide of the far post.
The first period of extra time ended with Salford piling on the pressure, and Denton had to win 3 defensive headers in quick succession. O’Halloran picked up the final clearance but under pressure from Kosylo the Irish left-back elected to hoist one in, with Johnson keeping his cool to catch a ball that was on course to drop just underneath his crossbar.
END OF FIRST PERIOD OF EXTRA TIME: FC HALIFAX TOWN 1 SALFORD CITY 0
A big 15 minutes of football for both sides but with the strains of “Dirty Old Town” ringing in their ears The Ammies were back on terms within 2 minutes of the restart. The goal was all about persistence as Johnston chased a long ball heading for the corner on the left, got there first and won a throw in. Johnston took it himself, finding Hulme who hooked a cross to the far side of the 6 yard box. The ball took a bounce and there was Nottingham, getting in ahead of Halifax's keeper and Peniket as he to stooped to place a header into the net. Delighted celebrations in front of the travelling support followed this deserved equaliser and there was still plenty of time to go for a winner.
Town looked momentarily shaken by Nottingham’s 11th goal of the season but the stakes were too high to let concentration slip now. The home side won a free-kick within 3 minutes of being pegged back but Sinnott’s effort from 25 yards out and centrally positioned was blocked and cleared by the visiting defence.
Neither team looked keen to let this one go to penalties and in the 115th minute Simon Grand emerged from defence with the ball at his feet then advanced before spraying a pass to the right for Johnston. This was promising but the Salford winger was crowded out as he made for the line and Halifax were awarded a goal-kick.
Two minutes later Salford’s skipper went into the book after Kosylo advanced on the right before cutting inside and running into him. Sinnott took the free-kick and Peniket almost scored his third goal of the tie, finding space to get in a 6-yard header that Lynch stopped and clutched to his chest right on the goal-line. The Ammies looked to counter and Poole’s break on the left was curtailed by a clumsy Roberts challenge with the home skipper booked for his trouble.
More chances went Halifax's way as Sinnott's delivery from the left found Peniket again but although the substitute got up high on the edge of the 6-yard box his effort was nodded clear by the covering Poole.
The spectre of penalties was looming but the game finished with Halifax exerting pressure and Sinnott launched a long throw from deep on the left. Denton got up inside the box to glance on a header that Lynch did well to push around the base of his right-hand upright. The corner was cleared but when the ball came back in it had to be knocked out at the back post for another. This one was dangerous too and as Halifax tried to force the ball home a timely block and clearance ensured that this play-off semi-final would be decided by penalty kicks.
FULL TIME: FC HALIFAX TOWN 1 SALFORD CITY 1
A pre-match coin toss dictated that the penalties would be taken in front of Halifax’s supporters gathered on the South Stand terrace and with the tension hitting unbearable heights the managers sorted out those players who would step forward to take kicks.
Town went first and Kosylo displayed nerves of ice as he waited patiently for everyone to assemble before slotting home a perfect penalty, sending Lynch the wrong way to nestle the ball into his bottom left-hand corner. Poole was first up for Salford but the man who has dispatched so many memorable finishes came up short this time as his left-footed effort to Johnson’s right was blocked by the Halifax custodian.
An early deficit for Salford but their supporters were soon roaring approval as Peniket blasted in a low shot to Lynch’s right, with the keeper guessing correctly to pull off a great save. Allen stepped forward to take Salford’s crucial second penalty but was left covering his face in horror after he skied an effort yards over the bar.
Two penalties each and Halifax were one up. It was Sinnott’s turn next and he made no mistake, planting a low shot to Lynch’s left. Salford’s keeper went the right way but there was no stopping this one and Ammie hopes of contesting Saturday’s final were now hanging by a thread.
With wicked irony it was Walker’s turn next and in front of the fans who were cheering his part in Town’s FA Trophy success last May he produced a carbon copy of Allen’s effort, hitting a shot that flew high over the bar.
Unrestrained glee in the South Stand and Brown stepped up knowing that if he scored there would be no way back for Salford. The only sound inside The Shay was the whistling of Salford’s supporters, but it was to no avail as Lynch committed himself to the right and Brown smashed a rising effort down the middle.
PENALTIES: FC HALIFAX TOWN 3 SALFORD CITY 0
In the aftermath of Brown’s decisive spot-kick Halifax fans raced from the South Stand and on to the pitch. Most were there to celebrate with their lads but almost inevitably there were some who saw fit to bait Salford’s players and fans. A shame, but it was only a minority and they were soon swallowed up by a much larger number of their more sporting pals.
Salford supporters made their own way out of the stands to commiserate with their heroes and as always, there was no hint of recrimination from a set of fans who have done nothing other than offer loud and generous encouragement all season long.
The disappointment was plain to see and is understandable. A long, hard campaign had been finished off by the relative lottery of penalty kicks and the pain among the players and coaching staff was plain to see. You’d be surprised If it wasn’t, but once the initial sting has worn away a little the appreciation of another fine season must surely come to the fore.
Back-to-back promotions have catapulted The Ammies from the Northern Premier League’s First Division North to the National League North – that represents a huge jump in standard. The spine of the side remains from Bernard and Jonno’s early days at Moor Lane yet those players have managed the step up in class and have given their all in pursuit of further glory.
It has been a most commendable effort and if they have fallen short it is only by the most wafer thin of margins. Just a little touch of extra quality or composure this afternoon – and indeed, during the first leg - could have made a big difference to the outcome.
Nobody should reproach themselves – we win as a team and lose as one, and that mantra encompasses players, coaching staff, committee and the growing ranks of those who first and foremost call themselves Salford City supporters.
Lessons will be learned - we'll be back stronger next season and who knows where we'll be this time next year? Not all of the current playing staff will be back - nor all the coaching and back-room lads - but all have played their part in full this season.
Good luck to Billy Heath and his team for the final - it was a great turnout of Halifax supporters this afternoon and Saturday's game at The Shay should be another good one. Forgive me however if I give it a miss!
In the meantime - we’re so proud of you boys – keep those heads up and we’ll see you in August for another cracking campaign.
FC HALIFAX TOWN:
1) Sam JOHNSON
2) Kevin ROBERTS
3) Josh WILDE
4) Dion CHARLES
5) Nathan HOTTE
6) Matty BROWN
7) Matty KOSYLO
8) David LYNCH
9) Tom DENTON
10) Jordan SINNOTT
11) Scott GARNER
12) Steven DRENCH
14) Richard PENIKET (for CHARLES, 89th min)
15) Danny CLARKE (for LYNCH, 76th min)
16) Cliff MOYO
17) Adam MORGAN
Booked: Garner, Roberts
1) Jay Lynch
2) Michael Nottingham
3) Steve O'HALLORAN
4) Sam Walker
5) Simon Grand (c)
6) Fraser Horsfall
7) Nick Haughton
8) Josh Hine
9) Mike PHENIX
10) David Norris
11) Jordan Hulme
12) Billy Priestley
14) Brad BARNES
15) John Johnston (for PHENIX, 91st min)
16) James Poole (for HAUGHTON, 54th min)
17) Richie ALLEN (for HINE, 59th min)
Booked: Hulme, Grand
Referee: Mr. Paul MARSDEN
Assistants: Mr. Elliott HEWARD & Mr. Nicholas HAWKSBY
Attendance: 3,655 (509 from Salford City)