Salford 1 County 1
County came away from rain soaked Moor Lane with a point, today, against second placed Salford City.
The feeling at the end, for me, was one of disappointment as County had taken a reasonably early lead via a superb Danny Lloyd finish, and then held onto it for much of the rest of the game, surrendering it late on via the penalty spot when a lean by Sam Minihan on Mike Nottingham was spotted by the referee.
To be fair to Salford, they had loads of possession and put County under a shed load of pressure, particularly in the second half, and looked at times like a team one place off the top of the table.
But…..that said, with a touch more luck and shade better application ,despite surrendering much possession, County could have won it had a couple of late chances not been spurned, or if a late foul on Felix had been punished as promptly as had Minihan`s indiscretion a little earlier.
Earlier we had endured an unprecedented pantomime trying to enter the stadium. After putting out info on Friday, at Salford`s behest indicating we had to enter the ground by Turnstile B……and then being advised minutes later ,by Salford, that we were now required to use A….. it turned out to be `B ' after all.
If the Salford team did well, the club organisation did rather less so!
The rain was cascading down as the game got underway with Salford pushing forward as befits their lofty league position. Minihan was in the spotlight from the off doing well first to concede a corner and then to clear same when it came over.
County responded quickly, and Brad Barnes did well to block Montrose`s effort after another by Lloyd had been charged down.
Grand and Nottingham then had their work cut out attempting to put a damper on Gonzales` play, but they were not successful, and his work saw Lloyd in Salford faces winning a corner.
The kick was poor giving the sodden home specs around me some cheer, County were again going to struggle with their set pieces.
Gonzales and Amis showed next, but Duxbury, back for a welcome start, sent his shot wide. Amis had done well ,but took a knock in the process, coming back on in time to see Barnes squander a chance by heading wide from a right wing cross.
Salford pushed on after that last action, only for Mike Phenix to shoot wide after plundering possession off Winter.
This was a decent game, all it needed was a goal, and 13 minutes in, that`s what we got, as Lloyd darted onto a delicious through ball by Gonzales to slot a lovely finish beyond keeper Jay Lynch`s dive into the far corner of the net!
This time, County were energised, but Clarke saw his shot charged down after much good work by Amis following Lloyd`s free kick.
Back came Salford again however, but Hulme was profligate with a headed chance, and Barnes found Hinchliffe in top form coming out to punch clear as the forward made for a deep cross in the box.
Salford were trying a bit, for sure, but the accuracy of their finishing lacked the energy and skill of their approach play- Nottingham and Hulme losing out when relatively well placed.
It has to be said that Clarke had a hand in Hulme`s failure, but no such excuse offered itself for Nottingham who should have done better.
Gonzales and Minihan worked well to stem the wave of City attacking- Gonzales running the ball clear from deep one time to no avail as Minihan was blocked on the end of Sefton`s pass. Gonzales pushed on regardless and was unlucky to see his shot saved by the keeper, a couple of minutes later.
Salford again replied and this time Hulme got his radar right, only to find Hinchliffe in his path pulling off a neat save.
County fought hard in the half`s dying embers, but despite Lloyd`s best efforts the score stayed 1-0 as the teams trooped off at the break.
The second half opened with City attacking, and George Green shooting wide. Salford kept the pressure on but fared no better when Hulme again tried his luck, as his shot went wide.
There was a response from County to all the City pressure, and it came via Gonzales who was inches away from reaching Lloyd with another tasty pass. Priestley did the biz preventing this one!
Back came City, through Barnes, but after he had won a corner off Amis, the chance it created was spurned by Hulme who sent his header over the top.
Another corner then for our hosts, and the home specs thought their side had equalised as a looping header from Barnes headed goal ward, but the celebrations were a touch premature as they had failed to notice that the ball had `looped` `onto the top of the netting …..still 1-0 chaps!
That was none the less a warning, and another quickly followed when Grand went close with a follow up effort.<
County were soaking up a whole lot of pressure now, and were defending deeper and deeper as the game progressed, albeit doing so with the necessary aplomb, especially Clarke and Smalley who did particularly well to deny substitute Richie Haughton, whose amazing dribble took him past man after County man into the box.
It was a corner, but it was also excellent work from the County defender, and with the corner coming to nothing it was doubly satisfying!
We did need to be more careful though, especially with throws and free kicks ( ours), but such thoughts were thrust aside 67 minutes in as Lloyd darted beyond the last defender. But…..bugger….the far side liner had his flag up having hallucinated an offside ruling from somewhere!
Pure rubbish that!
That was annoying and I joined JG in fulminating even more as Salford pushed us back with the referee oblivious to the County Manager`s attempts to get Kaine Felix on the park.
Eventually Felix came on for Lloyd, but County still had defensive work to do as throws and corners piled up for City in good positions, and Haughton continued to be in the van of the home side`s moves, going close with a shot that Hinchliffe will be pleased to have kept out.
Salford continued to attack, but consistently failed to add that required finish…..Barnes tried but watched as his effort missed by yards .
Then County`s moment arrived, with just 15 minutes left. It fell to Felix whose speed took him into the box where he appeared to have done the job having rounded the keeper. But he drifted right and when he had lined up a shot he lifted it high into the block of County fans behind the goal.
There looked to have been contact twixt Lynch and Felix, but the County man did not go down, almost as crucial a factor as his drift to the right!
That was disappointing, but more followed as a neat through ball from Minihan opened up chances for Gonzales or Felix who were high tailing after it. Felix got to it, and was in the box in a trice, only to drift wide again before once more missing the target with another disappointing effort.
Salford then threw their remaining substitutes on, in an effort to salvage something from the game, and it took them just 2 minutes to do so as a lean by Minihan on Nottingham allowed the referee to point to the spot.
Salford had a penalty and in no time an equaliser as Allen beat Hinchliffe`s dive with a firmly struck spot kick!
Meppen -Walter replaced Ball with 7 minutes left to play, and County did try to get their lead back, but the quality in the final third was just not there as Duxbury`s cross from a neat Winter ball went too close to the keeper.
I felt we might have just had a penalty midst all the late excitement as Priestley did rather lay into Felix at one point, but the referee was having none of it despite it being far more aggressive a foul than had been Minihan`s for the penalty.
Ho hum…..such is life…..and County really had to tighten up but instead Ross gave us a foul throw to add to the pressure on County, as Haughton did his best to secure the media darlings a winner.
County`s basic defending however continued to be good, apart from the throws and the cheep free kicks and another ramped up the home expectations deep into added time.
A punch out under pressure from Hinchliffe ended the game, and County could head off home with a point that was hard won and valuable. Three would have been even more so, but Salford were a strong outfit and played pretty well- enough to maybe deserve the share in the spoils.
Tuesday sees us at runaway leaders Fylde, and I fancy we might just do something with the coastal breezes in our lungs!
See you there, and if you cannot make it please consider going to the Spinning Top where landlord Mike Swann is again relaying the Pure FM commentary through the ST`s terrific sound system.
Mike is supporting the Guardian Account with a 10% donation from takings so it all makes sense- I am told there was a great atmosphere there today!
[ And the colorful snaps from the game can be found here! ]
Salford City line up:
Lynch, Nottingham, Brough, Burton, Grand, Priestley, Hulme(
Allen79), Barnes, Phenix, Hine( Haughton 63), Green( Poole 79).
Subs not used: Walker, King.
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Minihan, Clarke, Smalley, Duxbury, Montrose, Winter, Ball( Meppen-Walter 83), Amis( Ross 66), Gonzales, Lloyd( Felix 70).
Subs not used: Ormson, Hampson.