Lambs Do The Slaughter
Salford City suffered a 3rd consecutive away defeat as Tamworth struck twice before half time to take the points
SATURDAY 4th MARCH 2017
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
TAMWORTH 2 SALFORD CITY 0
1-0 Connor TAYLOR (40th min)
2-0 Danny NEWTON (44th min)
A fourth defeat in five away games for Salford City and there can be no complaints today following a toothless showing at the GST Gas Services Stadium. Home side Tamworth worked hard for what was a thoroughly deserved victory, with 2 goals in a 5 minutes spell prior to the interval enough to decide the destination of the points.
There was a single change from the side that started last week's win over Telford at Moor Lane last week as Nick Haughton replaced Jordan Hulme, with recent signing David Norris among the substitutes. There was a familiar face in Tamworth's line-up – central defender Jack Lane who made 45 appearances for the Ammies during the 2012-2013 season before leaving to play in the USA.
Tamworth have the same sort of 3G surface that Harrogate Town and the visitors made a promising start against a side with just one win in their previous five outings. The Lambs had some early pressure to deal with and as early as the 2nd minute Nick Haughton hit a swerving effort from nearly 25 yards that home keeper James Belshaw did well to save and hold.
The Ammies looked confident, passing the ball around nicely and for the first dozen of minutes or so the home side struggled to make much of an impression. Just before the 10 minute mark Haughton and George Green swapped passes outside the area and left of centre with the latter getting in a powerful shot that was blocked just in front of goal. Tamworth cleared the danger, looking to hit on the break and Billy Priestley became the 1st of 6 Salford players to go into the book following a somewhat over robust challenge on Joe Clarke.
In the 14th minute Ross Dyer got up well to flick on a high ball and striker Danny Newton found himself clear. A thumping shot was stopped by Jay Lynch in the Salford goal but it didn't matter as the assistant had already raised his flag for offside. From the free-kick Michael Nottingham made ground on the right, almost making it to the line before wrapping his foot around a ball that was cut back into the path of Green. The Burnley loanee’s low, angled effort was decent but Belshaw was perfectly positioned to make a save at his left-hand post.
Not a bad start from Salford’s point of view but that would be their most effective attacking spell of the game and their hosts were growing in confidence. With a quarter of an hour played Jed Davies moved the ball to the right for Ben Fox but with a sight of goal the midfielder could only blast high and wide of Lynch’s left-hand upright.
Just before the midway point of the first half the ball fell for Fox again, following a partial clearance. Once more he had a little bit of space to work in but his shot from a yard outside the box dropped comfortably over the crossbar.
There was more danger for Salford a couple of minutes later when Lynch came to collect a cross only to spill a ball that bounced around the area for a while. A Tamworth player managed to turn the ball towards goal from the edge of the box but Priestley was there to block and this time the Ammies did manage to clear their lines.
The game had evened out but Salford produced a little bit of quality in the that might well have produced the afternoon’s opening goal. In the 25th minute Richie Allen shrugged off the presence of two or three opponents on the left side of midfield before passing inside to Scott Burton. A nicely flighted ball down the left was chased and caught by Mike Phenix who cut a low cross back towards the edge of the area. Burton had continued his run and had the goal at his mercy, but could only skew a shot well wide of Belshaw’s left-hand post.
Another opportunity came Salford’s way in the 32nd minute after a trip on Haughton outside the area. It was nearly 25 yards out and left-of-centre but Green went close, curling his free-kick just outside the keeper’s right-hand upright.
It was Tamworth’s turn to threaten next as Connor Taylor picked up an attempted clearance on the edge of the area, with space to take a shot. It was a fair opportunity for the home number 11 but he snatched at it, sending the ball well wide of Lynch’s right-hand post.
Disappointing for Taylor but he would do rather better 5 minutes before the interval. There was a degree of uncertainty in the Salford defence as they looked to deal with a ball into the box but initially it looked as if Burton’s challenge on Davies had averted the danger. Fortune was against the Ammies as the ball rolled to Taylor who from 16 yards out hit a tremendous rising drive that gave Lynch no chance, flashing inside his left-hand post and into the roof of the net.
The goal hadn’t exactly been coming but the Lambs saw more of the ball as the half progressed and Salford had at times looked uncertain in their own penalty area.
Time for the Ammies to regroup but instead they conceded a 2nd goal during the half’s penultimate minute. Patrick Brough raced back to cover, conceding a corner on Salford’s left and Davies dropped his delivery just beyond the far post. Newton had been left wholly unattended and took full advantage of the defensive generosity, guiding a 6 yard header inside Lynch’s right-hand post.
A poor end to the half for Salford whose level of performance had dropped off during the first half and who know had that famous old footballing mountain to climb.
HALF TIME: TAMWORTH 2 SALFORD CITY 0
First half rain had given way to bright sunshine by the time the game restarted and Salford set about their uphill task in determined fashion. Tamworth were being pressed back and in the 49th minute Allen floated a ball out to the right where Nottingham headed back inside. Phenix went to pounce on the chance but he had been closed down quickly and the ball spun out of play for a goal kick.
A pattern of the second half would be Salford having lots of possession but doing very little with it, and the converse could be said for the Lambs. Forays forward would be relatively rare for the home side after the break but in the 50th minute they almost went 3 up. Ross Dyer did well to pick out Davies on the left and he whipped a good, low cross into the near post. Newton was the favourite to get there first but was stretching when he did and could only poke an effort outside Lynch’s right-hand post.
The game would grow tetchy during the second half and in the 52nd minute Davies put in a nasty challenge on Nottingham, tight to the line on Salford’s right. The normally amiable right-back reacted angrily and the two players went as face-to-face as their considerable difference in height would allow until they were parted. The result was a yellow card for each and Tamworth’s Newton followed them a couple of minutes later following a tussle for possession with the busy Nottingham.
In between those incidents Salford replaced Green and Haughton with Jordan Hulme and David Norris as the managers sought to inject a little direct urgency into their side. Just past the hour mark Josh Hine came on for Allen but despite seeing plenty of the ball the visitors were struggling to carve out any chances. Tamworth’s well drilled defence were dealing with everything that came their way and the Luke Jones/Jack Lane combination at its heart was particularly hard to break down. Cross after cross was headed away or plucked out of the air by the equally solid Belshaw and that little bit of extra attacking quality from Salford was conspicuous by its absence. The effort was there of course, but it was definitely beginning to look like “one of those days”.
Frustration was growing for Salford and Brad Barnes was booked midway through the second half after catching Lane with his arm as the two jostled for position at free-kick. The Ammies needed a goal quickly and with 20 minutes to play the under pressure Phenix prodded a pass back for Burton whose left-of-centre 30 yarder dropped well wide of the far post.
Top scorer Phenix recorded a different kind of statistic in the 73rd minute as he was cautioned for a challenge on home skipper Paul Green. With 12 minutes left he did very well to escape the defensive shackles but Salford’s afternoon was summed up as none of their players could get to the subsequent ball across the box.
Time was rapidly running out but if the Ammies can take anything from this afternoon it was their willingness to work, despite a general lack if cohesion. Four minutes from time Hulme threaded a great pass through the inside right channel and fellow substitute Hine made it into the area, ahead of a chasing defender. This was a chance but Hine chose to square a pass inside instead of having a go himself and the ball was cleared by one of a group of covering defenders.
Hulme’s booking just after that made it 6 on the day for Salford and as they committed men forward late on they almost conceded again. In the last minute of normal time Fox cleared long from the edge of his own box and substitute Louis Briscoe broke with pace into the Ammies’ half of the pitch. A pass to the left for Newton was slightly over-hit but the Tamworth striker managed to turn and get in a shot only for Burton to head clear from almost on the goal line.
Two minutes into time added on Newton broke clear on the left and managed to keep ahead of Priestley to hit a low angled 18 yarder that Lynch saved at the near post. In the 4th of 5 extra minutes Priestley was penalised for a challenge outside the area and from a position just left of centre Briscoe’s shot was comfortably saved by Lynch.
FULL TIME: TAMWORTH 2 SALFORD CITY 0
No beating about this bush, this was not an impressive afternoon’s work from the Ammies. Early promise soon dissipated in the face of determined, well organised opposition and two sloppy goals just before the break made the second half a very difficult proposition indeed.
The second 45 minutes was better to an extent but for a side to have so much possession without managing to test the opposition keeper once is very disappointing indeed. Tamworth earned their win - and a double over Salford - by closing down tirelessly and getting men behind the ball to protect their advantage.Despite plenty of effort nobody in a white shirt could provide the flash of quality – or composure – to break them down.
The Lambs defended very well indeed and took their chances – on this occasion the Ammies could manage neither. Frustration bubbled over a little after the interval and as well as accumulating needless yellow cards it did no favours for the quality of their play today either.
Results elsewhere were not entirely unkind but next week’s game at Brackley Town will be no easier than this one and a much more effective performance will be required if any reward is to be brought back to Moor Lane. Over recent weeks a degree of frailty has crept into performances away from home and that is a tendency that needs to be cured very soon indeed. March is a very tough month so let’s bounce back and recover from this rather less than auspicious start. There is no doubt that the managers will reiterate their requirements ahead of a very testing few weeks and we have seen positive reactions to games like this before.
1) James BELSHAW
2) Andy BURNS
3) Paul GREEN (c)
4) Ben FOX
5) Luke JONES
6) Jack LANE
7) Jed DAVIES
8) Joe CLARKE
9) Danny NEWTON
10) Ross DYER
11) Connor TYLER
12) Kai DAVIES
14) Dan JEZEPH
15) Louis BRISCOE (for DAVIES, 73rd min)
16) Aaron OPOKU
17) Andy MORRELL
Booked: Davies, Newton
1) Jay Lynch
2) Michael Nottingham
3) Patrick Brough
4) Scott Burton
5) Simon Grand
6) Billy Priestley
7) Nick Haughton
8) Brad BARNES
9) Mike PHENIX
10) George Green
11) Richie ALLEN
12) Sam Walker
14) Craig King
15) David Norris (for HAUGHTON, 53rd min)
16) Jordan Hulme (for GREEN, 53rd min)
17) Josh Hine (for ALLEN, 63rd min)
Booked: Priestley, Green, Nottingham, Barnes, Phenix, Hulme
Referee: Mr. D. Middleton
Assistants: Mr. S. Simpson & Mr. L. Sinclair