SALFORD City managed to force a replay against National League North opposition as they drew with Bradford Park Avenue in the FA Cup Third Qualifying Round at Moor Lane.
The result means that Salford will travel to Horsfall Stadium next week as they continue their bid to reach the fourth qualifying round.
The first attack of the game went to The Ammies as a through ball by centre back Tunji Moses was picked up by Jordan Hulme on the left edge of the box, however the angle was too tight for the forward to make anything of the chance.
The home team played without fear in the opening minutes, with centre backs Steve Howson and Chris Lynch pressing high up the pitch and making life difficult for the Avenue’s lone striker Chib Chilaka.
Salford’s lightning start to the game was quickly rewarded in the eighth minute, when another defence splitting pass, this time from James Poole, took two Bradford defenders out the game, and allowed Richard Allen through on goal. The former AFC Fylde player capped the move with a classy low shot to send the Ammies into an early lead.
However, the opening goal looked to give Bradford a shot of adrenaline, with a major chance coming on the quarter hour mark. Midfielder Craig King drifted out wide before exchanging a wonderful one-two with Nathan Turner that pulled Steve O’Halloran out of position. However, the right-back’s cross couldn’t live up to the move and was floated into the hands of Jay Lynch.
Both teams would rapidly exchange possession for the remainder of the opening half hour, with Chilaka starting to grow into the game and cause major problems for Lynch. The Nigerian born forward was supplied a feast of low crosses by wingers Jason St Juste and Richard Marshall, however he struggled to turn these opportunities into goals.
Avenue would have the pick of the chances during this period. First on minute 23 when Danny Schofield drifted out wide to receive a pass, before making a cutback to beat O’Halloran out of position again. However, the central midfielder overshot his run and couldn’t put a decent cross in.
Just three minutes later Bradford were given the best chance of the half when a poor interception attempt by Chris Lynch left Chilaka time and space in the 12-yard box. Lynch desperately tried to recover and contain the target man, however Chilaka muscled his way through, only to find his looped shot cleared off the line by Steve Howson.
Both teams continued to try to pass each other to death for the remainder of the half, yet since both were playing 4-3-3 it was difficult for either side to make a breakthrough. The only other chance of the half came in the 35th minute when Chilaka received a long ball on the right hand side of the box, however sliced his shot wide of the target.
Joint Salford managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley rung the changes at half time, by bringing on big game striker Danny Webber and playmaker Gary Stopforth in an attempt to put the game beyond Avenue’s reach.
Meanwhile Park Avenue manager Martin Drury opted to stick with his current team and formation, despite Chilaka looking isolated in the final third.
Chances came at a premium up until the hour mark, with the only real attempt on goal coming from a curled free kick from Richard Marshall that Jay Lynch did well to stop.
That all changed on the hour mark though as Bradford were awarded a penalty which saw full back Luke Dean bomb down the left wing before exchanging passes with Chilaka in the box, eventually Elliot Kebbie would mis-time a desperate challenge that saw referee Peter Wright point to the spot; a chance Marshall wouldn’t miss.
The goal gave BPA a major boost in momentum and saw Salford put under siege for the following ten minutes.
After struggling in the opening stages of the game, St Juste started to grow into the game after the hour mark, whilst the rest of the Park Avenue team up the ante in terms of physicality to try and capitalize on tired Ammie legs; although they still couldn’t find the breakthrough that would send them to the Fourth Qualifying Round.
Salford didn’t stay quiet for long though, and on minute 71 almost took the lead when an early cross found Webber. However the former Sheffield United player took too much time on the ball causing the move to break down before he could pull the trigger.
With around 15 minutes left Moor Lane erupted when a Salford cross looked to have been handled away by Turner, causing major appeals from the stands and half the Salford team to crowd Mr.Wright, whilst forward James Poole saw a headed attempt on goal fall millimetres wide.
With a replay looking on the cards, Salford would bring on Joe Mwasile in an attempt to break the deadlock. The Zambian born attacker almost made himself the hero with minutes remaining when he found himself clear though on goal, yet a strong clearance by goalkeeper Jon Stewart kept the scores level, and guarantee that both teams would meet again at Horsfall on Wednesday.
Salford: J Lynch, Kebbie, O’Halloran, Moses, Howson, C Lynch ©, Hardcastle, Clark (Webber ‘45), Poole (Mwasile ‘81), Hulme, Allen (Stopforth ‘45).
Subs Not Used: Burton, Itela.
Yellows: Clark ‘5.
Bradford Park Avenue: Stewart, Turner, Mather, Dean, Priestley, Angie ©, King, Schofield, Chilaka (Walshaw ‘85), Marshall, St Juste,
Subs not used: Marshall, Potts, Burgin, Pursehouse
Referee: Peter Wright (Lancashire)
By Oliver Mackenzie at Moor Lane