Ammies Shaken But Not Stirred...
Another very creditable performance from Salford City despite narrow defeat at the hands of League One outfit Bury
TUESDAY 25th JULY 2017
SALFORD CITY 1 BURY 2
1-0 Mike PHENIX (52nd min)
1-1 Zeli ISMAIL (58th min)
1-2 Zeli ISMAIL (79th min)
Bury came from behind to win an entertaining pre-season friendly at Moor Lane in front of a crowd in excess of 800. Another good Salford performance but the evening was marred by what could be a serious knee injury suffered during the warm-up by midfielder Gus Mafuta.
Both teams fielded strong line-ups and on a sunny evening the game was lively from the start. Salford pressed forward straight away and within a couple of minutes Jack Redshaw had tried an ambitious overhead effort that cleared the crossbar. The new signing was involved again soon afterwards getting in a near post header that was collected by Shakers’ keeper Dean Lyness.
Encouraging for the home supporters but Bury soon started to ask questions at the other end of the park. In the 7th minute Zeli Ismail’s curling delivery from a free-kick was touched goalwards by Callum Styles only for Max Crocombe to make a straightforward save.
The word “controversy” doesn’t often raise its pugnacious head during friendly games but we had an incident that probably qualified in the 14th minute. Bury’s Tom Heardman was bearing down on the penalty area until his progress was curtailed by a Danny Livesey challenge, with the referee responding by awarding a penalty to the visitors. The foul did seem to have taken place outside the area and a number of Salford players made their opinion known, prompting the referee to consult his assistant. As a result of that conversation the award was downgraded to a free-kick that Chris Maguire sent wide of the target, albeit with the aid of a defensive deflection then a timely touch from Crocombe.
The subsequent corner was scrambled clear and the next attacking incident of note came along 5 minutes later. The Ammies were fond of using long throw-ins last season but with arch-exponents Josh Hine and Billy Priestley now plying their trade in pastures new Liam Hogan hurled this one in. Redshaw controlled well, twisting into space before laying a neat pass into the path of Josh Askew whose well-struck effort on goal was blocked. From the corner Carl Piergianni got in a header that Lyness saved and momentum seemed to be swinging in Salford’s direction.
Home strikers Mike Phenix and Redshaw combined well in the 26th minute with the former pulling back for the latter to slot home but the assistant’s raised flag cut short hopes of an opening goal. Soon after that a mighty punt from Crocombe was headed on by Richie Allen, with Redshaw getting into the box on the left before trying a low 12-yarder that went just wide of the far upright.
Phenix went close himself next, darting into space on the right-hand side of the area prior to getting in a shot that was blocked. For a while Bury’s neat play had not paid dividends inside the final third so 13 minutes from the interval Ryan Cooney tried an effort from distance that dipped just over the crossbar.
The Ammies were doing well and in the 35th minute Mark Shelton’s fine through-ball found Phenix, who managed to win a corner. Allen floated the delivery into the danger area and Hogan got in a header that flashed inches wide of the target.
Bury countered and there was a sniff of a chance for Heardman who took the ball well on his chest only to blaze his shot over the crossbar.
Redshaw showed similar control at the other end, bringing the ball down impressively then hitting a powerful drive just wide of the post.
The first half was ending with both sides going for a goal and the lively Ismail hit a shot from distance that was deflected behind for a corner off Hogan. Maguire delivered the set-piece to the edge of the box where Andrew Tutte got in an effort that failed to trouble Crocombe.
HALF TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 BURY 0
Within a minute or two of the restart Bury won a free-kick and Ismail found Cooney who was thwarted by a robust defensive challenge. Salford won their own free-kick in the 50th minute and Hogan got onto the end of Allen’s cross only to place his header straight at the keeper.
Close for the Ammies but they did rather better 3 minutes later. Michael Nottingham’s determination hustled Chris Humphrey into losing possession, with home midfielder Scott Burton finding space on the right to deliver a glorious, gently curling cross into the box. With the Bury keeper hesitating PHENIX edged away from his marker to glance a header that crept inside the far post and Salford were good value for their one goal advantage.
That advantage would be short-lived however and following a crafty dummy from Heardman, ISMAIL drilled in a shot from right-of-centre that gave Crocombe no chance on its way inside the far post.
A fine strike from the Bury man but just 2 minutes later his team were fortunate not to fall behind again. Nottingham’s cross from the right was met by Phenix, whose effort was somehow blocked on the line. A second bite of the cherry slammed back back off the underside of the bar and although the third crashed the ball home a raised flag indicated a free-kick for offside to Bury.
Nottingham was involved again in the 63rd minute, tricking his way past a defender on the right prior to dropping an inviting cross into the middle where a Bury defender cleared with impressive composure.
With 25 to play Phenix was manhandled outside the box by Joe Skarz and Shelton took responsibility for the free-kick that followed. He caught it nicely as well but was thwarted by a combination of keeper Lyness and the crossbar.
As the second half progressed Bury began to exploit the increased space that became available to them and a swift break involving Ismail and substitute Chris Sang won them a corner. The set-piece came to nothing and the next opportunity went the way of the home side in the 69th minute. Phenix received the ball outside the box then turned and jinked his way to the right before hitting a decent effort that was parried by the keeper. Down at the school end Saul Shotton lined up a speculative 30-yard effort that went straight to Crocombe in the home goal.
A test for the Salford keeper but he was beaten for the second time with 11 minutes of the game remaining. The Ammies gave away possession in midfield and the ball was worked through to Ismail, again inside the box on the right. His first effort was blocked by Crocombe but ISMAIL made the most of his second chance, hitting a shot inside the far post, with perhaps the hint of a deflection off a defender.
For a game that had produced a healthy number of chances the final 10 minutes or so went a little flat in terms of attacking football and the final whistle sounded out with no further goals being scored.
FULL TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 BURY 2
A second home defeat in the space of 4 days for Salford but they were unlucky to lose this evening and have run two strong League One line-ups very close indeed. As with the Blackpool game on Saturday, an uninformed observer would have struggled to pick out the side from three divisions above the other although once again some quick thinking and pretty clinical finishing made the difference in terms of scoreline.
Overall, another very useful 90 minutes for the players and coaching staff who will now be closer to deciding their line-up for the game on 5th August when Darlington come to Moor Lane for the all-ticket season opener.
That one should be a cracker, but for now everyone’s thoughts are with Gus Mafuta – injured during the pre-match warmup and taken to hospital. Fingers crossed that one turns out as well as possible and we see the former Gateshead man back in action sooner rather than later.
SALFORD CITY (Red Shirts / White Shorts and Socks):
1) Max CROCOMBE
2) Liam HOGAN
3) Carl PIERGIANNI
4) Scott BURTON
5) Danny LIVESEY
6) Mark SHELTON
7) Michael NOTTINGHAM
8) Richie ALLEN
9) Mike PHENIX
10) Jack REDSHAW
11) Josh ASKEW
12) Ibou TOURAY
15) Jake BEESLEY
16) A TRIALIST
17) Markell FOULDS
18) Alex DOYLE
19) Dan EDWARDS
GK) Tony AGHAYERE
Referee: Mr. Ryan JOHNSON
Assistants: Mr. Nick GIBBONS & Mr. Dom BELL