TWO headed goals by Ross Dyer gave Tamworth a hard fought 2-1 victory over Salford City in the Vanarama National League North on Saturday.
In what was the first competitive meeting between the two sides, Tamworth came with a clear plan to beat the Ammies and left with the three points.
Dyer’s powerful header after 11 minutes gave them the lead, before a looping header from Salford’s Simon Grand mid-way through the second half brought the scores level.
Only four minutes later however, Dyer struck again with what turned out to be the winner.
Tamworth started the game well, and had their first shot after only two minutes was well blocked by Ammies defender Michael Nottingham inside the Salford box.
In contrast, Salford were slow to gain momentum in the match, often misplacing passes early on.
Tamworth’s early pressure paid dividends after 11 minutes, when a corner whipped in from the right found Dyer unmarked at the near post to head home.
It was another instalment of a worrying pattern for Salford, who frequently find themselves conceding soft goals from set pieces in games at the moment.
At the other end, Mike Phenix, back in the starting line up for Salford, had a tough time in the first half, often finding himself isolated and unable to control the frequent long balls that came his way.
Clear chances for Salford were few and far between in the first 45 minutes.
Their first real sight of goal came after 25 minutes when Nottingham guided the ball over the Tamworth bar from close range.
A nicely lofted free kick into the box found Scott Burton at the far post, who knocked it across goal to an unmarked Nottingham.
The defender should have scored, but instead could only steer the ball over the bar from no more than three yards.
His miss seemed to galvanise the Ammies however, who were looking to maintain their unbeaten league record at home.
A late first half spell of Salford pressure led to a number of corners, but Tamworth absorbed it well and went in at the break, 1-0 to the good.
By packing their midfield and sitting deep to eradicate any space in behind their defence, Tamworth frustrated Salford and forced them into taking shots from unlikely distances at times.
Yet after 65 minutes their defensive tactic seemed to have backfired when another spell of Salford pressure forced an equaliser.
After Tamworth failed to adequately clear a corner, Richie Allen skipped past a defender nicely on the left wing, before his cross found captain Scott Burton unmarked at the back post.
His looping header was just out of the reach of James Belshaw in goal, and nestled into the far corner.
Having equalised, it looked for a short time like Salford might press on and get a winner, as only two minutes later a great low cross from the left by Sam Walker just missed both Phenix and substitute Jordan Hulme in front of the Tamworth net.
It was indeed only for a short time however, as only four minutes after Burton’s equaliser, the Ammies found themselves behind again thanks to another Dyer header.
Substitute Tamworth winger Greg Mills used his speed to get in behind the Salford defence on the left and cross to the far post.
Once again Salford failed to mark Dyer and he snatched at the chance to punish them, heading powerfully past Jay Lynch.
Much like against Boston United in their previous fixture, Salford had to rally themselves again and push on for another equaliser.
Their late pressure created a number of brilliant chances that they failed to capitalise on.
After 73 minutes a clearing header from the Tamworth defence found James Poole on the right.
His brilliant cross back into the box found Nottingham completely unmarked, but he could only steer the ball just wide of the near post.
In throwing men forward Salford inevitably became more open at the back.
With 10 minutes to go a vicious driven shot by Greg Mills rattled the Salford cross bar, before Newton found himself in behind the Salford defence, only to cross to no one.
The vast majority of late chances fell at the other end however, the most notable of which came in added time.
Billy Priestley, on as a substitute, headed just wide from a Walker corner in the 90th minute, before Grand had a shot cleared off the line in the 94th minute.
After the game, joint Salford manager Anthony Johnson spoke of his frustration with his side’s current defensive frailties.
“It’s a pattern,” he said.
“We tried to address that pattern, we tried to address them concerns and we keep making the same mistakes…it’s not acceptable.”
He went on to describe Salford’s current run of results as his worst spell “in eight years of managing”.
Johnson and his co manager Bernard Morely will no doubt be desperate to see their side get back to winning ways next weekend, away against AFC Telford United.
By James Diamond