Ammie Sam's The Man!
Sam Walker's late goal against his former club gave Salford a narrow but absolutely vital win at Moor Lane
MONDAY 17th APRIL 2017
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
SALFORD CITY 1 CURZON ASHTON 0
1-0 Sam Walker (84th min)
Sam Walker scored a goal against his old side with just six minutes to play at Moor Lane and three very welcome points are in the Salford City bag. The Ammies stuttered at times but grafted their way through a largely undistinguished match on an afternoon when the result was all important.
There were changes from the side that lost at Gainsborough on Friday, starting at the back where Carlisle United loanee Patrick Brough replaced Steve O’Halloran. Further upfield James Poole and Harry Panayiotou were handed starts in place of Jordan Hulme and Craig King.
Salford needed a powerful performance but their early play did little to brighten up an overcast afternoon. Brough and Panayiotou combined in the fourth minute but Mike Phenix couldn’t latch onto the final ball and the Nash were able to clear their defensive line.
The first real chance of the day went the way of the visitors and came along just 3 minutes later. Joe Guest’s corner, left-footed and from the right, dropped onto the head of Jonathan Hunt with home keeper Jay Lynch having to get down smartly to his right. The ball was pushed away towards Ryan Hall but from a tight angle on the left he could only scuff an effort into the side-netting.
The Ammies hadn’t clicked into attacking gear yet but with eleven minutes played John Johnston whipped in a cross from the right with Poole only just failing to get there. Some action there but the game had started off in low-key fashion despite its importance to Salford City’s play-off hopes.
Indeed it was Curzon who created the next opening, again from a Guest corner swung in from the right. Nash striker Tyrell McKenzie had only just received treatment for a knock but he moved smartly to the near post, eight yards out before glancing in a header that went straight to Lynch.
Just past the midway point of the first half Sam Walker’s free-kick from deep on the right dropped into Curzon’s area but despite shouts for handball the referee awarded nothing more dangerous than a corner. Walker delivered that set-piece too with Billy Priestley getting in a seven yard header that cleared the bar by a fair distance.
The tempo of the game was picking up with Ryan Jennings shooting wide of Lynch’s left-hand post from sixteen yards out after picking up a short pass from skipper Alex Brown. At the other end Panayiotou headed on a ball forward with Phenix getting clear of his marker before poking a shot past Hakan Burton from about ten yards out. For a second it looked as if Salford had edged ahead but the referee somewhat harshly penalised Phenix for a foul and Curzon had a free-kick instead.
Six minutes before the break Curzon replaced McKenzie – still feeling the effect of that earlier knock – with Paul Ennis and in all honesty that was the most notable thing about the last fifteen minutes of a rather quiet first half.
HALF TIME: SALFORD CITY 0 CURZON ASHTON 0
The Ammies needed to find some inspiration from somewhere following their eleventh first-half blank from the last twelve outings. In truth it didn’t seem to be materialising for either side although Mchael Nottingham did put in a header that went wide of the target three minutes after the restart.
Both teams had been pushing forward with little success in the respective final thirds but the Nash went close in the fifty-fourth minute. Guest was at it again, delivering a corner from the left and this time it was Jennings who almost caught out the home defence as he met the ball at the near post before glancing a header that dropped inches wide of the far upright.
Close for Curzon who were using their flanks quite well and the best of the game’s few chances so far had fallen to them. A decent little move just a minute or two later worked James Baillie into space on the right hand side of the area. The full-back was faced by Brough and Walker yet got in a low angled effort that had Lynch diving to his right to push it away from danger.
It wasn't happening for the Ammies and just past the hour mark Poole and Panayiotou made way for Hulme and Richie Allen.
Just three minutes later Nottingham, later to pick up the Supporters’ Player of the Season award, advanced on the right before tricking his way almost to the line inside the box. His cross inside was pushed out, falling for Johnston whose shot crashed into Brown before being cleared. Curzon’s captain had apparently been trying to swap shirts early with Walker seconds earlier but the referee ignored what seemed to be a very decent penalty shout.
A good opportunity for Salford but they had to wait six minutes for another as the Nash continued to defend well as a unit. With twenty minutes to play Johnston’s classy ball from wide on the right fell for Allen on the far side of the penalty area and he moved inside before curling an effort narrowly wide of Burton’s left-hand post.
We’ve seen Richie put those away in the past but this was already looking ominously like “one of those days” for the Ammies. Within a minute of that chance Curzon introduced a familiar face into the action as ex-Salford midfielder Luke Clark entered the fray in place of Jennings.
That change ushered in a decent spell for the visitors, starting almost immediately as Ryan Hall darted inside from the right yet could only hit a tame effort straight to Lynch. Hall’s impressive turn of pace almost got him in again a few minutes later but it was Clark who almost spoiled Salford’s day – and quite possibly their season – with thirteen minutes to play. Having found himself in possession on the right and inside the area Clark turned past Walker then hit a low shot that got a touch off Lynch and the keeper’s left-hand post on its way out for a corner.
So close for Curzon who were on top at this point but the home side dug deep to open the scoring in the eighty-fourth minute. Nottingham’s pass inside from tight to the line on the right found Johnston and the winger responded with a neatly chipped ball down the same flank. Nottingham was onto it in a flash, driving forward box before clipping a low cross into the six yard box. With the previously untested Hakan Burton and his defence nowhere Hulme let the ball run past him from outside the near post and there was Waker towards the far upright. The midfielder had made ground forward and was on hand to poke the ball home from a few yards out to score a very important goal indeed against the club he represented with great distinction over quite a few seasons.
A suitably delighted celebration from Walker and his team-mates with the sun joining in, breaking out from behind leaden clouds to bathe Moor Lane in light.
The job wasn’t done yet but Walker’s goal had stiffened Salford’s resolve as they protected what could turn out to be vital win. There were few chances for the Nash to threaten in the time that remained and Hulme’s persistence carved out half of an opportunity in the last minute of the ninety. Curzon had a throw in, almost at the corner flag on their left and as the ball was picked up by Clark, Hulme closed him down and nicked possession away. The angle was impossibly tight but the Salford substitute had a go, hammering in a rising effort that cleared the target without testing Hakan Burton.
Curzon pushed men forward in search of an equaliser and in the fourth minute of time added on they won a corner on their left. Ennis dropped this one beyond the far post where Chris Rowney had a sight of goal only for his powerful shot to be blocked. Salford had everyone back to defend that one and within seconds the referee’s whistle brought the game to an end.
FULL TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 CURZON ASHTON 0
There was little style about this Salford win but plenty of substance as Walker’s seventh goal of the season and a first clean sheet in seven outings secured the points. Plenty of endeavour yet once again the Ammies struggled to find the level of performance they achieved earlier in the year and Curzon will feel aggrieved at leaving Moor Lane with no reward.
The visitors had the better of the chances that were created and their keeper will not have had many quieter afternoons this season as Salford again laboured, largely fruitlessly, to get in efforts that needed to be saved.
An upturn in form is still required but for the moment it seems that the Ammies are still in control of their season – two more wins should ensure a place in the end of season play-offs.
Worcester City – scrapping for their lives at the ‘wrong’ end of the table - await and today they took a point off Salford’s promotion rivals Stockport County. The weekend’s trip to Bromsgrove will be no easier than the Good Friday visit to Gainsborough but it’s another huge match and anything less than another win would be viewed as a major disappointment.
The season rolls on and Walker’s goal could turn out to be a defining moment, marking the end of a particularly badly timed wobble….fingers crossed!
1) Jay Lynch
2) Michael Nottingham
3) Patrick Brough
4) Scott Burton
5) Simon Grand (c)
6) Billy Priestley
7) John Johnston
8) Sam Walker
9) Mike PHENIX
10) James Poole
11) Harry PANAYIOTOU
12) David Norris
14) Nick Haughton (for PANAYIOTOU, 53rd min)
15) Richie ALLEN (for POOLE, 61st min)
16) Jordan Hulme (for PHENIX, 61st min)
17) Josh Hine
1) Hakan BURTON
2) James BAILLIE
3) Joe GUEST
4) Jonathan HUNT
5) Daniel SHAW
6) Alex BROWN (c)
7) Jordan WRIGHT
8) Chris ROWNEY
9) Tyrell McKENZIE
10) Ryan JENNINGS
11) Ryan HALL
12) Luke CLARK (for JENNINGS, 72nd min)
14) Paul ENNIS (for McKENZIE, 39th min)
15) Oliver THORNLEY (for HALL, 86th min)
16) Niall CUMMINS
GK) Cameron MASON
Referee: Mr. Simon MATHER
Assistants: Mr. Nik STOREY & Mr. Darren ROGERS