Ammies Labour For Point
Lois Maynard's second-half equaliser secured a point but all three should have been coming back to Moor Lane
SATURDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER 2017
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
CURZON ASHTON 1 SALFORD CITY 1
1-0 Max LEONARD (35th min)
1-1 Lois Maynard (65th min)
There is, of course, a long way to go yet but if Salford City’s promotion aspirations falter for the want of a point or two, Moor Lane minds may well be cast back to a sunny September afternoon at the Tameside Stadium. Trailing at half-time the Ammies pushed Curzon back after the break with the second half almost becoming one big game of attack and defence. Nevertheless Salford could only grab an equaliser and a face from their recent past could have rubbed salt into their wounds late on.
There was an enforced change from the side that beat Southport on Monday, with skipper Liam Hogan starting a 3 match suspension thanks to that harsh sending-off at Spennymoor. With Danny Livesey still ruled out with an ankle injury the defensive pack had to be shuffled again as Ibou Touray moved to the left-side of the back 3 and Carl Piergianni switched into the middle. Josh Askew, so impressive last time out, took over the left wing-back position vacated by Touray and Anthony Dudley was back among the substitutes having recovered from a hamstring injury.
We had a rather pleasant afternoon in Ashton-under-Lyne with Nash’s recently laid surface suitably watered and glinting in the late summer sun. There was plenty of Salford support in the crowd of 723 and after a quiet opening 5 minutes it was the visitors who began to exert some pressure.Jake Beesley found some space on the left and used it well, threading a low forward pass into the penalty area. Richie Allen picked up the ball and tried to catch Cameron Mason out at his near post, only for the keeper to read his intentions and make a straightforward crouching stop.
Allen was behind the next opening as well, playing a nice ball inside for Jack Redshaw whose powerful snap-shot from the edge of the area crashed into former Ammie Steve Howson. Possession fell for Redshaw again and this time he nudged a pass to the left where Askew’s effort was also charged down by a defender. Touray had already settled very well into his new central defensive role but was on hand to initiate an attack in the 10th minute, sliding a great pass into the path of Askew. Mason had anticipated the danger, racing out to the edge of his area, 12 yards from the line but although Askew just had time to get his lobbed effort away it dropped harmlessly into the side-netting.
Former Blackburn Rover Askew was having a good half and on the quarter hour he attacked on the left again, pulling the ball back for Mani Diesieruvwe. This looked like a decent opening for the Ammies but Howson was there to put in a great blocking challenge. The Curzon defender would pick up a man-of-the-match award later and was on hand to deny his previous club soon afterwards as he cut out a cross from Beesley.
Not a bad opening quarter from Salford’s point of view but they hadn’t managed to score a goal, despite dominating possession. Curzon had attempted to get their neat passing style going but a number of speculative balls forward had run out of play or been comfortably dealt with by a Salford defence marshalled splendidly by the impressive Piergianni.
The first half would deteriorate as far as the Ammies were concerned as their attempts to create clear-cut opportunities were frustrated by a combination of uneven passing and a home defence that had dug in stubbornly. Curzon were even beginning to look threatening and 10 minutes before half-time took the lead from what was their only decent attack of the opening 45 minutes. It was a very simple goal too as Niall Cummins collected possession in midfield on the right before turning to play a low diagonal pass inside that neatly bisected Salford’s defence. MAX LEONARD was on the end of that one, getting clear on a just right-of-centre run before slipping a cool, low finish between the advancing Max Crocombe and his left-hand upright.
A nicely taken goal for the home side and within a couple of minutes they might have snatched a very similar second. Matthew Crothers
pushed forward on a run through the middle before playing in Cummins inside the penalty area. The big striker prodded an effort wide of the keeper’s right-hand post as Crocombe rushed out but the assistant’s raised flag had already brought the danger to an end.
The Ammies had more possession during the half’s closing 10 minutes but were unable to anything much with it as Curzon shepherded them around, only committing to a challenge when necessary. As the whistle approached Scott Burton cut inside from the left and after an opponent slipped left fly with a 24-yarder that clipped off a defender before being held comfortably by Mason just inside his left-hand post.
During time added on the action switched to the other end as Beesley’s well-time challenge deprived Joe Guest of a chance to get a shot away.
HALF TIME: CURZON ASHTON 1 SALFORD CITY 0
A disappointing first half for Salford and the afternoon almost got worse for them within 30 seconds of the restart. A long ball forward was headed on by Cummins and Leonard was away again on a right-of-centre run but this time his low effort drifted harmlessly wide of the far post.
Encouraging for the home supporters but the tide of the game was about to turn against their side. In the 49th minute Beesley met a Nash clearance with a cushioned header before putting in a teasing cross towards the far post that gave Mason an uncertain moment of two before the ball dropped just wide of the target.
Salford managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley made a couple of changes after that, with Anthony Dudley and Mike Phenix coming on for Dieseruvwe and Beesley. That necessitated a re-organisation with Allen moving to right wing-back and Dudley dropping into the hole behind the front two. The substitutions seemed to re-energise the Ammies and Curzon found themselves being pressed back. Eleven minutes into the second half Piergianni played a low pass forward and Allen’s glorious first-time flick gave Burton the chance to advance into acres of space on the right. The midfielder’s low cross spun behind for a corner with Touray dropping the set-piece towards the edge of the 6-yard box. Piergianni rose highest to meet the ball but was left thumping the turf in frustration as his header cleared the crossbar by two or three yards.
Askew did well again a couple of minutes later, tracking a Curzon player’s run before getting to the ball first and turning to launch a great cross-field pass to the right. Allen was the recipient but just as he was about to run at a hastily arriving defender lost his feet and a promising situation had come to nothing. Maynard, skipper in Hogan’s absence, was the next to threaten, advancing through the inside left channel before trying a shot that was so badly miscued it went out for a throw-in on the far side.
Half chances for the Ammies but they had picked up their pace and there was far more urgency about their approach now. Just past the hour Touray’s pass gave Askew another chance to attack the line on the left and he whipped in a good cross that was headed away by a Curzon defender. Touray was prompting again within a minute, playing Allen in on the same flank and his low cross towards the near post had to be touched clear by home captain Jonathan Hunt.
This was Salford’s most effective spell of the game so far and Allen’s twisting run to the right-hand angle of the area was stopped by a couple of defenders. The loose ball fell to the right for Phenix who slammed in a low cross that was cleared once again by Hunt. Phenix picked up possession again, winning a corner that was heading for Piergianni until Mason just managed to claw it out for another corner kick.
That one came in from the left, courtesy of Dudley and Piergianni was in the mix once more, right-of-centre and just inside the 6-yard box. His downwards header looked destined to level the scores until Matthew Reagan got in a last minute block and after Redshaw played a neat one-two with Piergianni before his low effort met with a similar fate. This time however there would be no escape for Curzon as the loose ball made its way to MAYNARD, 12-yards out and just left-of-centre with the former Tranmere man guiding a low shot inside Mason’s right-hand post.
No more than Salford deserved having kept Curzon penned inside their own half for some considerable time and they were soon on the hunt for another goal. It almost arrived less than 3 minutes later after Allen’s run and pass to the left for Dudley. The shot was on but he unselfishly nudged a ball to the left for Redshaw to slam in an angled effort that was well parried by Mason.
The Nash had done very little in an attacking sense for some time but Maynard’s loose pass in the 68th minute gave them the opportunity to break out. Guest pushed into space on the left then played a pass inside for Leonard who turned to hit an 18-yard effort high over the crossbar.
Something of a jolt for the Ammies but they were soon attacking again and came agonisingly close to taking the lead with 19 minutes left.
Another Touray corner from the right, with this one dropping beyond the far post to be met by the head of Allen. Mason did well to push the powerful effort away and when Michael Nottingham tried to hook in his effort was blocked as well. The loose ball struck the chest of Phenix and could have gone anywhere but luck was with Mason as he was able to claim possession right on his goal line.
Salford continued to probe but were again struggling to convert promising approach play into good scoring chances. With 15 minutes left Dudley played in a teasing cross from the left but none of his attacking colleagues could get onto the end of it. Soon after that the Ammies won a free-kick but Allen’s couldn’t keep the effort down with the ball flying high over the crossbar.
They went much closer with 9 minutes left after the pace and persistence of Askew almost paid dividends once again as he chased and caught a pass down the left before squaring a perfect ball into the path of Phenix. This was a big chance but last season’s top-scorer drilled in a low 16-yarder that went narrowly wide of Mason’s right-hand upright.
You have to hit the target with those and now time was beginning to run out for the Ammies as they went after a winner. Maynard’s strength won possession in the 82nd minute and he advanced a few paces before trying an angled drive from right-of-centre and 20 yards out. Not a bad effort on the run but Mason was relatively untroubled as he allowed the low shot to pass unhindered outside his right-hand post.
This was already a frustrating afternoon for Salford but 7 minutes from time it almost became a disastrous one. Daniel Shaw’s pass up the left for Curzon found Guest who played a low cross into the danger area. The Ammies’ defence had looked solid all afternoon but this time they had left Sam Madeley unattended, about 12 yards out from goal. Collective breath was held by the travelling support but the expected hammer blow failed to land as their former striker somehow managed to scuff his big chance.
A huge let-off for Salford but they responded well and were soon back on the offensive themselves. Touray had put in a real shift this afternoon and his cross from the left picked out Allen beyond the far post. If he had managed to head back inside there were white shirts converging but from the tightest of angles could only find the side-netting.
Curzon dug in again after that but as the game entered 3 minutes of time added by the referee the visitors launched a last assault. Substitute Mark Shelton’s pass to the left sent Touray to the line and his low cross flashed across goal, less than a yard out, but no Salford player took the gamble and the ball ran clear beyond the far post. A missed opportunity to snatch a late winner but the last touch must have come off a Curzon player and the Ammies had a corner. Touray trotted over the right and delivered another good one, with Piergianni getting up again to get in a 6-yard header that skimmed off the top of the bar and out.
The final whistle sounded out and the reaction of Salford's players said it all - a great chance to pick up the two extra points had been spurned.
FULL TIME: CURZON ASHTON 1 SALFORD CITY 1
Trying to claim that this result was anything but disappointing would be wholly dishonest. The Ammies controlled the first half-hour of the game completely as well virtually the entire second half, yet all they had to show for their efforts was Maynard’s leveller. Curzon defended well at times, desperately at others and had relatively few chances to put their traditional brand of passing football on display. For all that the home side took their sole clear-cut chance of the first-half the almost pinched all 3 points when their second of the game fell to Madeley late on.
Losing would have been a huge injustice for Salford but pound for pound – with no disrespect intended – this was probably the least effective Curzon Ashton side the Ammies have faced in quite a few years. There was plenty of possession and quite a few chances and half-chances yet the final ball and finishing on display this afternoon were not always convincing. The reshaped defence did very well, Askew, Touray and Allen buzzed around busily upfield but a side that had conceded 10 goals over their previous outings were not punished anywhere near ruthlessly enough.
Tougher challenges lie ahead this week as the Ammies face early pacesetters Harrogate Town and Brackley Town and an improvement in performance will probably be required if those games are to be won. Difficult certainly, but for this team by no means out of the question - roll on Tuesday's trip to North Yorkshire...
1) Cameron MASON
2) Daniel SHAW
3) Matthew REAGAN
4) Jonathan HUNT (c)
5) Steve HOWSON
6) Matthew CROTHERS
7) James BAILLIE
8) Paul MARSHALL
9) Niall CUMMINS
10) Max LEONARD
11) Joe GUEST
12) Ben WHARTON (for CUMMINS, 88th min)
14) Tyrell MACKENZIE
15) Oliver THORNLEY
16) Chris ROWNEY (for CROTHERS, 73rd min)
17) Sam MADELEY (for LEONARD, 77th min)
1) Max CROCOMBE
2) Michael Nottingham
3) Josh ASKEW
4) Scott Burton
5) Carl Piergianni
6) Lois Maynard
7) Jake Beesley
8) Richie ALLEN
9) Mani DIESERUVWE
10) Jack Redshaw
11) Ibou Touray
12) Tony Aghayere
14) Mark Shelton (for ASKEW, 86th min)
15) Dom McHALE
16) Anthony Dudley (for BEESLEY, 53rd min)
17) Mike PHENIX (for DIESERUVWE, 53rd min)
Referee: Mr. Thomas KIRK
Assistants: Mr. Martin ASHWORTH & Mr. Gareth MYERS