Salford City 1-1 Clitheroe
Report by Chris Musson
Salford City 1 Clitheroe 1
It took the first half to blow away the pre season lethargy, before both teams upped their performance to share the honours, although a piece of brilliance at the end could have stolen it for Salford with seconds remaining.
In a quiet, subdued first half, it was Clitheroe who were first to show. After three minutes, a Wedge free kick found Threlfall on the edge of the box and his turn and shot was turned round for a corner. Danny Smith starting on the right had a good run after seven minutes and on eight minutes, Simon Nangle, playing in an unfamiliar position just off the striker, saw his header from a corner squirm wide. He almost instantly followed this up with a curled shot which went just wide. On 17 minutes, Will James was caught in possession by a Salford striker and he was fortunate that Richie Mottram was smartly off his line to hoof the ball away. Chris Dykes was showing nice touches throughout the first half and looks to have used the summer break well, and his 30 yards run on 21 minutes should have ended with a shot on goal rather than a tame pull back, Mark Threlfall was making half chances in the Salford penalty area, but didn’t appear to relish the lone striker role, but when the half time whistle came, the Blues were certainly marginally on top, although the general torpor meant that even the swarms of midges couldn’t be bothered to bite.
In the second half, Paul Moore mixed it up straight from the off and put Scott Bakkor up front with Threlfall and replaced Connor Smith with Nangle. Immediately, the injection of pace and pass finding of Nangle changed the game. In the first five minutes, genuine chances fell to Dykes, Threlfall and Danny Smith and on 49 minutes it was Smith who ran on to a through ball from Nangle to clip it over the keeper and to take the lead. Almost immediately, Mason Ryan replaced Smith and by this stage Salford equally woke up and started to put passes together, marshalled tremendously by their rangy centre back, who was outstanding all night. The pressure told on 65 minutes when an attack down the Salford right broke down and a free kick was conceded several passes later half way in the Clitheroe half. A short free kick was taken down the left side and an ambling Salford player suddenly put his foot down and leathered the ball in from an angle. Thereafter chances fell to both sides. Threlfall had more half chances but it was Mason Ryan who looked a handful as he twisted and turned to make space and Andy Griffiths, who came on for Threlfall, showed glimpses of quality. A draw looked a fair result, but with seconds to go, the travelling fans held their breath as a hopeful ball arched over an attacker’s shoulder and he hit it full on the volley at pace on to the cross bar.
There was a lot to like about this performance and the defence were tremendous throughout, especially Kris King at left back and my MoM, Keith Wedge at right back, who rarely misplaced a pass all night.
Clitheroe – Mottram, Wedge, King, James, Bodie, Birchall, Nangle, Connor Smith, Danny Smith, Threlfall, Dykes Subs Bakkor, Ryan, Griffiths, Higgins.
Report by Chris Musson