Salford City fell to second place in the National league after a frustrating 1-1 draw with Ebbsfleet United at Moor Lane.
For the second home game in a row, The Ammies delivered a sluggish performance against a dogged Ebbsfleet United, resulting in a 1-1 draw against the visitors from Kent.
As the apex of the table gets increasingly tight, Salford have now dropped to second in the Vanarama National League as Leyton Orient currently occupy the top spot.
Our reporter Damian Pickett gave his summary of the match, along with reaction from the Ammies faithful.
On a brisk afternoon at Moor Lane, Ebbsfleet went ahead in the first half, but Salford responded brilliantly with a goal from Rory Gaffney three minutes later.
Despite plenty of second-half pressing from into the final third from Graham Alexander’s side, Salford couldn’t break down Ebbsfleet’s stubborn defence.
The home side started the game slowly, creating little threat except for an early penalty appeal from leading goalscorer Adam Rooney, which the referee waved away.
On the opposite side of the pitch, Ebbsfleet’s confidence grew as veteran striker Danny Kedwell came close, with a header forcing goalkeeper Chris Neal to tip the ball over for a corner.
Ebbsfleet’s impressive spell continued as their attacking players got into increasingly dangerous positions, and came devastatingly close from a set-piece. Fleet’s captain Dave Winfield met Luke Coulson’s corner to beat Neal, but was denied by the crossbar.
Shortly after, Salford had a chance to take the lead when Danny Lloyd found space on the left after some elusive footwork, delivering a great ball towards the far-post. Rooney found the end of it, beating the keeper, but his effort was cleared off the line from Kenny Clark just in front of the travelling fleet fans.
As the first half went on, Salford picked up the pressure on Fleet but a wasted effort from Tom Walker in the 21st minute lacked the quality the home side were searching for. Salford finally found the net as Rooney coolly finished a headed assist from Gaffney, but the latter was found to be offside.
It was the away side, however, who took the lead against the run of play. Following a threatening break from Fleet, striker Corey Whitely finely cut inside, and clinically slot into the far-post after 35 minutes.
The home fans didn’t stay quiet for long, as Salford’s response to the setback can be taken away as a positive to manager Graham Alexander.
Full-back Ibou Touray raced forward and curled in a cross from the left, finding Gaffney whose effort was impressively saved by Fleet keeper Nathan Ashmore. Never the less, the ball found its way back to Gaffney, who punished the goalkeeper in the 38th minute.
The first-half drew to a close after an eventful 45 minutes, topped off by a late booking for Ammies centre-back Carl Piergianni.
Salford started the second half excellently with a left-footed effort from Gaffney which narrowly went wide. Other than that, the home side allowed Ebbsfleet to get back into the game through more possession, without creating many chances.
As the game went into the latter stages, Salford lacked creativity in the final third, with an organised Fleet defence frustrating star names such as Lloyd and Rooney, who were far from their best.
With just over 15 minutes to go, Alexander fired up the home crowd as Bolton Wanderers Loanee Dennis Politic made his debut on for Walker.
The 18-year-old looked sharp as Salford pressed for a late winner, injecting urgency into the Ebbsfleet box with a great ball to Lloyd, whose low-angle effort was saved by Ashmore. The ball bounced back to Politic, who nearly found the net with an impressive strike that was deflected over the bar from a fleet defender.
80 minutes in and the home fans started to become increasingly restless, perhaps prompted from an element of time-wasting from the away side, which clearly added more frustration to Graham Alexander and his players.
Piergianni came close with a stoppage-time header for the home side, which was tipped just over the woodwork from Ashmore, producing a spectacular save.
Fleet nearly went ahead themselves on the opposite end of the pitch from a lobbed effort from midfielder Andy Drury that went over the bar, but it was evident their job was done as the referee blew for full-time.
The result means that the top spot has gone for Salford. The preceding home-game against bottom of the league side was Braintree Town resulted in a 2-2 draw, but to leapfrog Leyton Orient at the top, Salford must make the Peninsula Stadium a fortress again.
The Ammies unbeaten run in the National League continues, as they prepare to visit Barnet on Tuesday, before an away trip to Eastleigh away next Saturday.