SALFORD City immortalised themselves in English football folklore by beating League Two Notts County 2-0 at Moor Lane in a pulsating Emirates FA Cup first round tie.
The result means that the Ammies will progress to the second round of the FA’s premier competition for the first time in their history; whilst also being the first time they have beat a Football League team in a competitive match.
Meanwhile, it’s the first time County have lost to non-league opposition in a competitive game in seven years. With the first half seeing both sides share an equal amount of the ball, it was difficult to imagine either team scoring.
However, less than a minute after the restart Salford were ahead thanks to a James Poole cross that was met by the left boot of Danny Webber; whose effort was enough to beat Roy Carroll.
The home team then extended their lead in the 75th minute thanks to a superb solo effort by substitute Richie Allen, who managed to drift past two Notts County defenders before firing in a shot that went straight into the bottom corner; causing The Ammies players to flood the pitch and send the stands into raptures.
From even an hour before kick-off, it was easy to see that the atmosphere around Moor Lane was going to be electrifying with the sell-out crowd beating that of the previous highs set when FC United and Darlington 1883 came to the Ammies.
It was telling from the Salford kick-off that the Ammies were determined to get a result as former Manchester United player Webber stormed down the wing, only to have his cross blocked.
Notts County quickly tried to stamp their authority on the game, Thierry Audel and Stanley Aborah combined superbly in the opening 15 minutes in order to control the pace of the game, although they could only do that when the east Midlands outfit had the ball.
When Salford had the ball, they looked much more accomplished than their Evo-Stik Premier Division tag suggests. Minute 11 saw Jordan Hulme attempt to repeat the antics of fellow attacker James Poole from the previous round against Southport.
The former Ramsbottom player attempted an audacious shot from 30 yards; it was good enough to beat former United goalkeeper Roy Carroll, however beat the post.
The chances continued to come thick and fast with 17-year-old winger Lewis Hardcastle having a shot from the edge of the box after superb build-up play between the Ammies front three, however his shot was easy picking for Carroll. Hardcastle got the ball back seconds after before shifting the play to Webber but his shot was blocked well.
The game took a turn for the physical, with both midfield’s battling between one another to control the pace of the game. The next chance wouldn’t come till after the half-hour mark, when Salford midfielder Scott Burton attempted an ambitious shot from 25 yards which flew off target.
Towards the end of the half, the Magpies grew into the game, exploiting the explosive pace of Kyle De Silva and the physicality of Jon Stead, both of which caused problems for captain Chris Lynch and Andy Dawson. However, for all their effort, they couldn’t provide adequate support for centre forward Izale McLeod.
The balance and deadlock was shattered within a minute of the restart when a floated Poole cross caught out Audel and Webber was well placed to run in front of his man and beat the veteran Carroll.
County tried to force their way back into the game after conceding the goal, yet looked to be fighting against the tide as Salford defended solidly and with a structure that proved very difficult for Notts County’s slow build-up play to break down.
The Ammies, however, continued to take advantage of their pace by launching lightning counter attacks, with Hulme having the pick of them in the 59th minute with a thumping effort that rattled the crossbar.
The hour mark saw County squander an opportunity to equalise when Audel tried to make up for his prior mistake after a corner from Alan Sheehan fell to him, the centre half attempted a piledriver which sailed over the bar.
Both teams would continue to exchange half chances until the 69th minute when Richie Allen replaced Webber in what turned out to be a crucial moment of the game.
Just three minutes later, the former Fylde striker got on the scoresheet with a stunning solo effort. Originally picking the ball up from the left side, Allen pulled off a Cruyff turn that took two Magpie defenders out of the game, before cutting inside and powering his shot in the bottom right corner.
His seventh goal already this season reflected the never-say-die attitude of the Ammies after coming out for the second half. Every time Notts County made a challenge, Salford found some way, no matter how implausible, to win it back.
With Salford two goals up, Notts County looked dead and buried, truth be told the only action for the rest of the game came from the subs bench as both teams exchanged half chances.
Yet that didn’t stop the Ammies fans pouring out their emotion after the full time whistle went, as it began to sink in around Moor Lane what they had achieved.
Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley will now eagerly await the draw for the second round which takes place on Monday night.
Salford City joint manager Bernard Morley: “We always knew that if our concentration levels were right we can match anybody. It is a giantkilling but it’s well deserved. i didn’t think they put us under pressure and a bit of magic has won us the game.”
Salford City joint-manager Anthony Johnson: “It’s once in a lifetime stuff, that’s what we told them. Embrace it. Showcase your talents. I didn’t think we could win! They are a full-time side with top players but the boys have proved me wrong. I’ve never felt so emotional after a game.”
Salford City co-owner Gary Neville: “To be honest it was just a bonus being here tonight. But we were the better team, it’s an unbelievable effort. That goal-line clearance was a big moment. Notts County didn’t play well but that wouldn’t be easy for any club tonight. We were superb.”
Notts County boss Ricardo Moniz: “I will never forget it. A disaster for Notts County. They [Salford City] deserved to win, they were better. They wanted it more, circumstances were in their advantage but we never came into the game.”
So delighted one of nicest human beings i have had the luck to work with, Danny Webber is making the right sort of headlines tonight. #facup
— Mike Vince (@halo_straight) November 6, 2015
— Ruth Gorman (@RuthGorman_UTV) November 6, 2015
#FACup Superb way to spend a Friday night watching football played in a great spirit. Hard tackles, passion and no petulance. Loved it.
— CDR H (@scottytoohotti) November 6, 2015
Salford City (4-3-3): J Lynch, C Lynch (c), Dawson, Howson, O’Halloran, Hardcastle (Moses 90+3′), Burton, Stopforth, Hulme, Poole (Mwasile 81′), Webber (Allen 70′).
Subs not used: Dootson (GK), Clark, Sharp, Kebbie.
Booked: O’Halloran, Burton.
Goals: Webber (46′), Allen (73′)
Notts County (4-4-2): Carroll, Hewitt (Jenner 82′), Edwards, Sheehan, Audel, Aborah, Smith (c) (Spencer 65′), Noble, de Silva (Campbell 56′), McLeod, Stead.
Subs not used: Loach (GK), Amevor, Thompson, Burke.
Referee: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire)
To catch the best of the action, watch the BBC’s highlights by clicking here.
By Oliver Mackenzie at Moor Lane