Grand Revival For Ammies
One down at half time, goals from Richie Allen and skipper Simon Ground turned the tables on AFC Telford United
SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY 2017
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
SALFORD CITY 2 AFC TELFORD UNITED 1
0-1 Lee HUGHES (12th min)
1-1 Richie ALLEN (50th min)
2-1 Simon Grand (52nd min)
Salford City remain in 2nd place following this win over AFC Telford United but they had to come from behind to claim the points. A goal from Lee Hughes gave The Bucks their half-time advantage and in truth the visitors could have been further ahead. The Ammies responded well after the break and within 7 minutes of the restart goals from Richie Allen and Simon Grand put them ahead.
There was a single change from the side that started last Saturday’s nervy win over Stalybridge Celtic with Josh Hine replaced by Richie Allen. With James Poole injured Craig King was back among the substitutes, but otherwise it was a case of “as you were”.
On a wet and breezy afternoon at Moor Lane the home side would start slowly and could have fallen behind in the very first minute. A long ball forward caused confusion between Salford keeper Jay Lynch and his defenders with Lee Hughes getting in to flick the ball towards goal. Only a hasty retreat and timely goal-line clearance from Billy Priestley kept the scores level.
An early scare for the Ammies and within another 60 seconds of play Telford won a free-kick, centrally positioned and about 25 yards out. This was dangerous for Salford but Jon Royle could only slam his effort into the defensive wall and the danger was cleared.
Salford’s first attack of note came in the 4th minute when Jordan Hulme’s pass found Michael Nottingham in some space out on the right. The cross in was headed clear to the edge of the box by Dwayne Samuels where it was picked up by George Green. The Burnley loanee made space for a shot but Telford were closing down quickly and Royle got in the way to make a brave block.
Both sides were looking to get men forward and in the 8th minute Paddy Brough did well on Salford’s left, picking up Green’s diagonal pass before getting in a cross. The ball fell for Richie Allen whose left-of-centre 12 yard effort crashed into Samuels before Green’s follow-up effort from the edge of the box drifted wide of Callum Burton’s right-hand post.
Chances at both ends but the Ammies were looking uncertain when Telford launched balls forward and the visitors took the lead in the 12th minute. Joel Dielna’s pass left the home defence waiting for an offside decision that never came and HUGHES was away on a right-of-centre run. Having made it into the box the veteran striker proved the old adage that class is permanent when he lifted the ball over Lynch from an angle to open the afternoon’s scoring. That was the first league goal scored by an opposing side at Moor Lane since Tamworth visited in October and the Staffordshire side went on to win the game on that occasion.
As might be expected Salford poured forward after conceding the goal and they won a couple of free-kicks over the next few minutes. From the second of these Green delivered a great cross that only needed a touch but none of the assembled Ammies were able to provide it.
In the 18th minute Nottingham controlled Lynch’s long kick on the right before passing inside for Green. Having switched the ball to his left foot Green tried an effort from the edge of the area and right-of-centre but the ball flew very high and rather wide of the target.
For a while after that chances were at a premium, with Salford looking to use the flanks and Telford concentrating on playing Hughes or strike partner David Hibbert in whenever they could. Both defences were coping reasonably well at this stage but the game opened up again during the final third of the first half.
On the half-hour Green showed admirable persistence to force a pass out to Mike Phenix on the right, but from inside the area Salford’s top scorer could only drill a low effort well wide of the far post.
At the other end Telford thought they had doubled their lead a couple of minutes later after Hibbert set off on a right flank run. He followed it up with a great low cross to the near post but after Hughes had knocked the ball home the away supporters’ celebrations were cut short by the assistant’s raised flag.
A touch of misfortune for the Bucks but they had some defending to do after Brad Barnes lofted a ball into their penalty area. Richie Allen controlled the partial clearance well but the ball wouldn’t come down for him and a volleyed effort flew high over the crossbar.
Soon afterwards the Ammies won a free-kick on the edge of the box and after Green’s delivery was cleared Scott Burton tried a volley that was deflected behind for a corner. That set-piece was Green’s responsibility too and he aimed at a point in front of the near post. Phenix darted forward to meet that one and put in a glanced header that hit Callum Burton, positioned just inside his right-hand post and a defender was on hand to complete the clearance. Salford’s best effort of the game so far and although Telford’s debutant keeper probably hadn’t known much about it, a save is a save and Telford’s lead was still intact.
It’s probably fair to say that although United hadn’t created the same volume of opportunities as their hosts, they looked more likely to do something with the ones they had. Six minutes before the break they really should have scored a second goal as Salford’s defence once again looked uncertain when faced by the double-pronged attack of Hughes and Hibbert. There seemed little initial danger as Hibbert tussled for possession, outnumbered by defenders, but the Telford man came out on top albeit aided by an apparent handball. With 5 or 6 opponents clustered around him the Bucks’ number 10 coolly slipped a pass to the left where Hughes - of all people – had been left unmarked in acres of space. The former West Bromwich Albion frontman looked odds on to score as he drew Lynch before slipping a low shot to the keeper’s left, only to see the ball pass a foot outside of the upright.
A huge let-off for Salford but they were in trouble again within seconds as Hibbert dispossessed Nottingham too easily before cutting inside from the left. The low, angled shot was a decent one, forcing Lynch to get down and make a save and although the Salford keeper couldn’t hold on to the wet ball a defender got in to make a punted clearance.
The half finished with Salford pressing for an equaliser but there was only frustration as a succession of attacks foundered on the visiting defence. Three minutes before the interval Nottingham crossed from the right and Phenix had two swings at the ball only to see United skipper Luca Havern get in the way. Soon afterwards Phenix was strong as he held up the ball on Salford’s right before swapping passes with Hulme and then bearing down on goal. Callum Burton got down bravely to make a smothering save but appeared to be caught by Phenix, leading to a spot of handbags that was nipped in the bud before cards needed to be brandished.
There was still time for one more attack and Allen’s neat touch fell for Hulme who cut in from the right only to go down under heavy pressure from Bucks’ defender Paul McCone. There were claims for a penalty – more in hope than realistic expectation – but the referee was unimpressed and Telford went into the break a goal to the good.
A frustrating half for Salford, for whom little had come off, but it could have been worse against a side who had created 4 clear cut opportunities to score.
HALF TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 AFC TELFORD UNITED 1
Telford made two changes during the interval with injured skipper Havern replaced by Ben Bailey and John-Paul Kissock making way for Josh Wilson.
The Ammies needed to adopt a more direct approach when play resumed, and happily for the majority of a 1,248 strong crowd they managed to do exactly that. Initially the 2nd half started encouragingly for Telford, with Eddie Jones slinging in a couple of crosses to test the home defence and the partnership of Hibbert and Hughes continuing to look perky.
At the other end an early free-kick from Green on the right dropped straight out of play over the bar to suggest that the frustrations of the first half might be intent on hanging around as far as Salford were concerned.
That wouldn’t be the case as it happened, and in the 50th minute the home side were back on level terms. The afternoon had been relatively quiet for ALLEN so far but he picked up possession wide on the left twisting inside and away from Samuels. With the Telford man snapping at his heels he advanced on a pacy run and defenders were backing away in front of him. That was all the invitation the former AFC Fylde man needed as he thumped in a low 20 yarder that beat Callum Burton at his right-hand post.
A little bit of quality from a player who has provided quite a few since his arrival at Moor Lane last season and within a couple more minutes his side had snatched the lead. Green found space on the right to let fly with a 25 yarder that was dipping under the bar until Callum Burton managed to tip it over at full stretch. A great save from the Telford keeper but Green’s corner from the left caused confusion amongst his defence and Salford skipper GRAND was on hand to nod home from close range, despite the close attention of McCrone, from the edge of the 6 yard box. A typical piece of tenacity from a captain he leads from the front and has already recorded 7 goals so far this season.
A remarkable 2-minute turnaround and soon afterwards Phenix slid a pass through the inside right channel for Hulme to chase, but Callum Burton got there first to gather the ball just in time.
Telford had been rocked by those 2 quick Salford goals but they are a determined outfit and were soon looking to get back on level terms. In the 57th minute Hibbert turned smartly on the edge of the box but couldn’t keep his shot down and soon afterwards a promising run from Hughes was curtailed by an offside decision.
With 64 minutes played the Bucks won a corner on the left and Samuels got up to meet Jones’ delivery only for his header to drop harmlessly over the bar from 15 yards out. The visitors were exerting pressure but Salford’s defence had got over their first half jitters and were now looking much more like their usual solid selves.
Midway through the 2nd half another Green corner from the right was aimed at the near post but this time the ball just evaded Grand, with Telford managing to clear their lines. Phenix was next to threaten, doing well to wriggle along the line on the right before poking a pass inside for Green who was under pressure and could only run the ball out of play.
With 20 minutes left Nottingham’s free-kick from deep on the right was controlled off the chest of Hulme on the far side but the subsequent volley was deflected wide for a corner.
Telford’s attacking contribution had dropped off during the second half but they couldn’t be discounted and in the 74th minute Hibbert swapped passes with Wilson on the right. The Telford striker had played well and managed to get in a low, angled drive that was too close to Lynch to cause any real problems.
Largely speaking though Salford were keeping possession much better than they had prior to the half-time break and 14 minutes from time Allen hooked in a tempting cross from the right, but nobody from either side could get a touch on it.
The Ammies still needed another goal to make the points safe and with 12 minutes left they created a golden opportunity to grab it. Hulme’s pass inside from the right split the visiting defence and Phenix found himself free, slap in the middle and 12 yards out. You would have backed the former Telford man to score but his attempt to place a low finish spun off the right foot of Callum Burton and behind for a corner.
Both sides made changes after that, with Phenix and Allen replaced by Nick Haughton and Josh Hine for Salford, while for the Bucks Hughes made way for Elliot Hodge. The home side still generally looked firm at the back but with 7 minutes left Wilson found Jones whose shot came back off the legs of Lynch. Wilson had a go himself next, getting in a powerful shot from the right – it was heading just wide of the far post but Grand made absolutely sure, getting in an extremely effective block.
A one goal lead is never comfortable and with just less than 2 minutes left Jones was nudged over by Grand, just a foot outside the box. Dielna took his time weighing up the shot from just right of centre, did a little shimmy and then planted a left-footed effort high over the crossbar.
There was a bit more pressure for the Salford defence to soak up – and one late, optimistic penalty shout from the visitors – but there to be no more scares and a seventh consecutive home win had been secured.
FULL TIME: SALFORD CITY 2 AFC TELFORD UNITED 1
To a certain extent this match qualifies under the banner of that old footballing favourite “the game of two halves”. Salford saw plenty of the ball before half time and had a number of half-chances, yet lacked cohesion, with a tendency to hesitate and overplay at the business end of the pitch. At the back a defence that has been in impressive recent form – especially at Moor Lane – struggled at times against a Telford side who countered quickly and had both experience and technique upfront.
The Bucks created 4 good chances during the 1st 45 minutes and had they managed to take more than 1 of them the game might well have panned out much differently.
They didn’t however and after the break Salford looked more direct, especially during the opening third of the 2nd half when they scored the 2 goals that earned all 3 points. The midfield duo of Burton and Barnes were much more in control and after their early shakiness Salford’s back 4 recovered their composure and poise.
Once again the work ethic could never be questioned – for either side – and the Ammies have certainly picked up an agreeable knack of picking up points when not quite at their best.
Since Tamworth won at Moor Lane in October Salford City have chalked up 11 wins and 3 draws from 16 games – that’s promotion form in anybody’s book and it looks as if a managerial duo who consistently adapt to the challenges throw at them have got the measure of this division as well – we now have 11 games left to play of the regular season and it should be quite a ride…
1) Jay Lynch
2) Michael Nottingham
3) Patrick Brough
4) Scott Burton
5) Simon Grand (c)
6) Billy Priestley
7) Jordan Hulme
8) Brad BARNES
9) Michael Phenix
10) George Green
11) Richie ALLEN
12) Steve Howson
14) Sam Walker (for GREEN, 71st min)
15) Nick Haughton (for ALLEN, 79th min)
16) Josh Hine (for PHENIX, 79th min)
17) Craig King
AFC TELFORD UNITED:
1) Callum BURTON
2) Dwayne SAMUELS
3) Joel DIELNA
4) Luca HAVERN (c)
5) Paul McCONE
6) Jack RAE
7) Jon ROYLE
8) Eddie JONES
9) Lee HUGHES
10) David HIBBERT
11) John-Paul KISSOCK
12) Ben BAILEY (for HAVERN, Half-time)
14) Josh WILSON (for KISSOCK, Half-time)
15) Elliot HODGE (for HUGHES, 79th min)
16) Zak LILLY
17) Lewis HAYDEN
Referee: Mr. Simeon LUCAS
Assistants: Mr. Joseph GOODWIN & Mr. Martin ASHWORTH