SALFORD City did not let a delayed kick-off trouble them as they comfortably put aside visitors Worcester City 3-0 on a nippy Saturday afternoon at Moor Lane.
The Salford faithful were treated to what Salford co-manager Anthony Johnson called ‘a complete performance’ as the Ammies have Nick Haughton, Mike Phenix and Scott Burton to thank for the goals in the Vanarama National League North.
The start of the game was delayed until 3.45pm after trouble on the M6 meant the Worcester squad did not arrive at Moor Lane until just after the scheduled 3pm kick off.
The game began slowly, with neither side able to hold onto possession for any length of time; the long ball forward seemed the only option, which led to both teams’ strikers being called offside a number of times early on.
However, the game burst into life in the 11th minute when Haughton opened the scoring for the Ammies.
Latching onto a fine through ball from Jordan Hulme, and after finding himself in space in the box, his low shot beat Ethan Ross in the Worcester goal via a deflection.
Salford then dominated play for a period, managing to gain impetus thanks to tireless work from Sam Walker and Burton in the centre of the park which meant the hosts were able to create numerous half-chances.
Worcester’s first chance of the game came in the 19th minute when their veteran striker Lee Hughes rattled the post after a fantastic bit of skill allowed him to turn away from his marker and get a shot off from an acute angle.
From then on the game opened up with both sides going forward in numbers in an attempt to get the all important second goal of the game.
Neither side displayed any particular quality on the ball, but Salford were gaining some joy through Phenix’s hold up play which allowed Richie Allen to get in behind several times, though he was not able to make any of his chances count.
Phenix was almost rewarded for his efforts as he forced Ross into making a fine save to tip his header over the bar after he was found by a delightfully weighted free kick from Walker.
Allen then went close for the home side only to be denied by Ross whose big right hand stopped a curling shot which seemed destined for the top corner.
Ross’ heroics though were short lived, as from the resulting corner Phenix ghosted into the box to meet Walker’s whipped ball and head home to double his sides lead in the 42nd minute.
Salford went into the half time break 2-0 up and they had looked in control of the game, with Worcester rarely threatening Jay Lynch in the Salford goal.
James Poole came out in the second half, replacing Allen for Salford who had picked up a knock for his efforts.
Worcester enjoyed their best spell of the game early in the second period, as they earned themselves a spate of corners but they were unable to strike back as Salford’s defence was resolute.
The home side made it 3-0 in the 56th minute thanks to a long range effort from Burton.
He picked up the ball around 25 yards out after Worcester headed away a corner and he smashed it goal wards after being urged on by the home crowd and the ball found the back of net via a deflection which left Ross helpless.
After third goal went in the Worcester heads dropped and this was epitomised in the substitution of their star man Lee Hughes, as after leaving the pitch he was retrospectively booked by the referee for kicking the ball out of play.
From then on it only got worse for the Worcester faithful as their side started playing sloppy passes as Salford began to play with the confidence that saw them reach the top of the league earlier in the season.
For the last 20 minutes Worcester rarely threatened, and the Ammies men strutted around the pitch maintaining possession and working tirelessly to win it back when the ball was lost.
Salford’s last real scoring chance of the game came from Michael Nottingham. The man playing right back went on a mazy run worthy of a right winger, beating two Worcester defenders in the process, before finding himself in the box but his finish was that of a right back as he blasted harmlessly over.
In truth it was a complete performance from the Ammies who have now won three matches on the bounce, but for Worcester it was an afternoon to forget.
After the match co-manager Anthony Johnson said: “It was sort of a perfect day, with a lot of the results going for us as well. Four clean sheets on the bounce in the league is a brilliant achievement at any standard and to shove three in at the other end is always pleasing as well.”
It was Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s 100th game in charge for Salford- a period which has seen the club promoted twice under them, as well as a memorable FA Cup run last season.
Paul Scholes a co-owner of Salford City, and member of the Class of 92’ was in attendance at the game to present them with a commemorative award before the match.
The Ammies’ co-manager Bernard Morley said of the 100th game in charge: “Obviously it’s a great achievement; especially in this day and age managers don’t seem to get that chance anymore, if you lose four or five on the bounce you seem to be out that door. But we’re winners and we’ve always been winners.”
Shots on target: Salford 10 Worcester 3
Shots off target: Salford 3 Worcester 5
Corners: Salford 5 Worcester 8
Offsides: Salford 6 Worcester 2
Fouls: Salford 12 Worcester 8
By Matt Bullin