Dudley Does-Right as Ammies Tip the Hatters
Anthony Dudley's virtuoso strike - his first goal for the club - proved the difference as Salford beat Stockport in front of 2,358
TUESDAY 15th AUGUST 2017
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
SALFORD CITY 2 STOCKPORT COUNTY 1
1-0 Michael Nottingham (5th min)
2-0 Anthony Dudley (26th min)
2-1 Connor HAMPSON (41st min)
Something of a momentous evening for Salford City who recorded a first ever victory over Stockport County as well as what was probably their biggest ever crowd at Moor Lane. There are claims that 3,000 assembled for an FA Vase tie versus Whickam in the early eighties but that is by no means certain and cannot now be verified. More than 4,000 definitely turned up for the “home” North West Counties League game versus FC United of Manchester at the Willows in 2006 but for now the Moor Lane record is set at tonight’s 2,358 (including 950 County fans).
There were no changes from the side that started the 2-0 win at AFC Telford United but the bench was different with Mark Shelton (back from suspension), Dom McHale (new signing) and Jack Redshaw (back from a niggling heel injury) kept company by Tony Aghayere and Markell Foulds. Among the Stockport ranks were ex-Ammies - Harry Winter, Matty Warburton and Sam Walker, with the injured Steve O'Halloran watching from the sidelines.
The Ammies aren’t always the quickest team off the mark but this evening they went straight at County from the start. Anthony Dudley tested Ben Hinchliffe early on, with the keeper up to the task but he was to be beaten in the 5th minute. Ibou Touray whipped a free-kick into the near post from the right with Michael Nottingham getting across to stoop and head home off the inside of the upright from 8 yards out.
A great start and Salford were doing all of the pressing. Just 3 minutes later Anthony Dudley delivered a corner from the right for Liam Hogan to rise imperiously and get in a 15 yard header that Hinchliffe dived to his right to push away. Touray and Lois Maynard swapped passes outside the box in the 10th minute but when the cross came in it was just a little bit too strong for Richie Allen to get anything on it.
An uneasy start for the Hatters but Jim Gannon’s side do not lack determination and they were soon finding their own attacking feet. Just before the quarter hour County were awarded a free-kick on the left and Connor Hampson curled the delivery into the left-hand side of the box. Darren Stephenson seemed to be in pole position to get there but after some contact from a defender he collapsed onto the turf, appealing for a penalty as he did so. The referee waved way those claims and perhaps tellingly the muted protests from other Stockport players suggest that the official got it right.
Dudley was doing well in his first home league start and his short pass from the left teed up Mike Phenix for a low, angled 20-yarder that was collected at the near post by Hinchliffe. Stockport countered and this time it was former Ammie Matty Warburton who went down under pressure from Hogan but again the referee was unconvinced and no penalty was forthcoming.
Salford were still on top and Jake Beesley was the next to pose a threat, getting past Hampson on the right before aiming a low pass at the near post with Phenix just unable to get there.
Stockport’s best chances came when they had set pieces and in the 22nd minute Hampson nudged a 22-yard free-kick from well left-of-centre to Jimmy Ball who immediately returned the pass. County’s left-back attempted a low curling effort that had Max Crocombe moving smartly to the right in order to collect the ball at the base of his right-hand upright.
That effort ushered in the first spell of concerted pressure Salford’s defence had to endure and Sam Minihan picked up possession on the right before rifling in a low effort that deflected behind for a corner. Ball took the set-piece from the left, delivering to the near post where Warburton tried a cheeky close-range flick that spun off Touray and behind. The next corner kick was cleared as far as Minihan just outside the box but after his powerful effort was deflected out the assistant’s raised flag indicated that County had been penalised for offside.
An eventful, full-blooded first quarter of the game but after having to defend Crocombe’s goal for a while Salford edged further ahead with 26 minutes played. There seemed little immediate danger as DUDLEY picked up possession outside the box and in the inside left position but the former Bury man displayed clever feet to weave his way past a couple of challenged inside the area. There was a touch of fortune as his 15-yarder appeared to take a deflection off Chris Smalley that deceived Hinchliffe, with the ball beating the keeper at his right-hand post. A bit of luck for Dudley but he probably deserved that for the sublime skills he pulled out of the bag to get himself in a shooting position. A grand way to open your Ammie goal account…
County responded to that setback very positively – they had successfully come back from two goals down at home to Harrogate Town on Saturday – and the home side had to concentrate solely on defence for a little while.
A good cross from the right was heading for Oswell at the far post but Beesley had tracked back and was able to nod the ball behind at the expense of a corner. Warburton took this one from the left with the dangerous Oswell up at the far post again to get in a header that hit a defender before looping towards goal. Crocombe had to be on his toes to tip that one over and County had another corner kick. That one, then another, were defended well but as the half-hour arrived it was the visitors who were piling on the pressure.
Warburton was proving a handful for his old side and in the 32nd minute he found space to advance before hitting a 22-yarder that dropped outside Crocombe’s right-hand upright.
Overall, some very effective defending from Salford to protect their lead and they could have added a third goal 10 minutes before the break. Great work from Allen – putting in another performance studded with craft and graft – took him to the line on the left but Beesley’s lunge towards the far post ended with a header glance wide of the target.
County’s best chance of trimming the deficit still seemed to be from a set-piece and in the 36th minute Hampson’s corner from the right dropped beyond the far post where skipper Harry Winter was in space. A decent opportunity but Winter was stretching to get there and could only plant a header well wide of the keeper's right-hand post.
Roared on by their travelling support in the East Stand County started to press again as the half-time interval approached. Warburton was played in through the inside-left channel only for his low effort to spin off Hogan and out for another corner. The Hatters were knocking on the door and they found a way through Salford’s defence just 4 minutes before the break. A corner from the right dropped beyond the far post and Winter was there again, this time knocking the ball back into the path of HAMPSON. From a couple of yards inside the box the County full-back hit a sweeping left footer across Crocombe’s dive and inside the far post.
Cue pandemonium in the away end as Winter whipped up the County fans as his team-mates congratulated Hampson for his sweetly struck first Stockport goal.
A good time to score but the Ammies held their defensive nerve in its aftermath and there were no further scares for the home supporters before the half-time whistle sounded.
HALF TIME: SALFORD CITY 2 STOCKPORT COUNTY 1
It might have been expected that County would come out fired up for the second half and so it was to prove. Four minutes after the restart Winter burst out of midfield in possession only for his shot from distance to sail over the bar. The visitors came even closer at the end of their next attack when Stephenson pushed forward on the left before cutting a pass back towards the edge the box. This was dangerous for Salford but Crocombe extended his right leg to block Warburton's side-footed effort and a defensive colleague completed the clearance.
Stephenson switched to the right flank next, attacking the line again before turning a low ball into the near post where Beesley arrived first to concede a corner.
The Ammies were struggling to get out of their own half during the opening minutes of the second half but one foray almost produced the third goal they needed. A great ball from Scott Burton – immense again in the middle of the park – picked out Phenix who worked possession inside for Maynard. The former Tranmere Rovers midfielder hit a decent effort but couldn’t keep the ball down sufficiently to worry Hinchliffe.
Stockport had the majority of attacking possession so far since half-time but were largely being held back by the home defence, once again looking like a formidable barrier. As the hour mark came and went the Ammies started to flex their own attacking muscles a little. A ball out of defence was controlled by Dudley just inside the County half and he turned before playing a pass into the path of Phenix on the right. A galloping run took the Salford number 9 to the angle of the box where his shot was blocked. From Allen’s right-flank corner the indomitable Piergianni got up highest and although his header fell towards the goal Hampson was on hand to punt unceremoniously clear from almost on the line.
Otherwise Salford’s attacks were looking a little laboured and unprecise, with Stockport losing a some of their attacking zip by this stage as well. That relatively inactive state of affairs suited the Ammies more of course but the final 20 minutes would be a bit more lively. A clearance fell for Touray in the 69th minute and he volleyed in a 20-yarder that bounced straight through to Hinchliffe.
County were still committing men forward and Stephenson chased a threaded pass on the right only for Salford skipper Hogan to get ahead of him, escorting the ball out for a goal-kick. Typically strong defending from the Ammies and they needed to do more in the 73rd minute. Minihan’s ball to the right found Warburton and his cross to the far post was headed high and wide by Oswell, under pressure from Hogan.
Salford had brought on Redshaw & Shelton for Allen & Dudley by now and were looking relatively comfortable again as the game entered its final 15 minutes. Piergianni met Shelton’s corner from the right but this time Hinchliffe was able to stop and hold the effort without too much fuss.
Jim Gannon sent on a couple of subs in an effort to liven up his side’s attacking options and they almost had some quick success. Scott Duxbury’s cross from the left was met by Oswell tight to the far post and his header dropped for Winter just outside the box. A little dart to the right failed to shake of the covering defender and under pressure the midfielder’s rising drive cleared the bar by at least a yard.
Stockport sensed an equaliser and with 5 minutes to play a corner into the near post from the left was headed out as far as substitute Harry Brazel. This was a real opening but from just inside the area and left-of-centre Brazel could only get in an effort that dropped harmlessly over the bar.
The Ammies’ defence was holding firm and in the penultimate minute of the 90 Duxbury tried an effort from 30 yards only to see the ambitious effort fly well wide of the keeper’s right-hand upright.
The referee added on 4 minutes of extra time but Stockport – despite their best efforts – failed to put their hosts under too much pressure. Ball blasted over from the edge of the box at the death but Salford had seen those minutes out intelligently to notch up their first ever victory over Stockport County.
FULL TIME: SALFORD CITY 2 STOCKPORT COUNTY 1
A very satisfying evening’s work for Salford who have chalked up 3 consecutive victories since that opening day disappointment at the hands of Darlington. Two of those wins came against sides who will be in the mix at the tail end of the season and after that early wobble the Ammies have certainly re-established their promotion credentials.
Again, this wasn’t exactly pretty but the defence is already forming into a very solid unit, with the wing-backs finding their way more surely and a midfield who could never be accused of abandoning the work ethic. A special word is due for Richie Allen – the former Fylde man probably didn’t have the 2016-2017 season he would have wanted but he is already up and running for this one.
Successful teams are built on the bedrock of a solid defence and a culture of hard-work and teamwork. That’s a case of “job nearly done” already but with unavailable players returning or due to return I suspect we can look forward to some fireworks to add to the organisation and sheer determination over the weeks to come.
Stockport may argue that they did enough to take a share of the spoils home and may have something of a point. For their part however the Ammies could have built an unassailable lead early on and were determined to maintain it against a team who have enough quality to cause them problems. Once again, the ground out a good result but the flashes of attacking quality are becoming steadily more frequent.
All-in-all, a great day to be an Ammie – a big crowd and a win against a local side we could never have contemplated playing on equal terms just a few short seasons ago - the roller-coaster ride continues, it seems, unabated.
SALFORD CITY (Red/White/White):
1) Max CROCOMBE
2) Liam Hogan (c)
3) Carl Piergianni
4) Scott Burton
5) Michael Nottingham
6) Lois Maynard
7) Jake Beesley
8) Richie ALLEN
9) Mike PHENIX
10) Anthony Dudley
11) Ibou Touray
12) Mark Shelton (for ALLEN, 72nd min)
14) Dominic Mchale (for PHENIX, 89th min)
15) Tony Aghayere (GK)
16) Markell Foulds
17) Jack Redshaw (for DUDLEY, 72nd min)
STOCKPORT COUNTY (All yellow):
1) Ben HINCHLIFFE
2) Dan COWAN
3) Connor HAMPSON
4) Harry WINTER (c)
5) Scott DUXBURY
6) Chris SMALLEY
7) Sam MINIHAN
8) Jimmy BALL
9) Jason OSWELL
10) Matty WARBURTON
11) Darren STEPHENSON
12) Tom WHITTY
14) Sam WALKER
15) Harry BRAZEL (for COWAN, 80th min)
16) George WEST (for STEPHENSON, 78th min)
17) Ian ORMSON (GK)
Referee: Mr. Martin Woods
Assistants: Mr. Christopher Porter & Mr. Richard Aspinall
Attendance: 2,358 (including 950 from Stockport County)