Graham Alexander applauds the away support after Northampton test. (Credit: Salford City – Charlotte Tattersall)
Salford City Manager Graham Alexander was left scathing after his side faltered to a 2-0 defeat versus Northampton Town at the PTS Academy Stadium.
The Ammies, who were looking to extend a two-match winning run in League Two, were on the receiving end of two controversial penalty decisions in a disappointing afternoon.
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Naming an unchanged line-up from the side that secured their first ever away victory in the Football League at Walsall two weeks ago, Salford threatened early on with captain Adam Rooney forcing a smart save out of Cobblers’ ‘keeper David Cornell.
However, the home side took the lead a matter of minutes later, after Cameron Burgess was controversially adjudged to have felled Charlie Goode inside the area by referee Lee Swabey.
Despite multiple Ammies demonstrations, the decision was upheld and midfielder Sam Hoskins stepped up to convert the following spot-kick with 36 minutes on the clock.
Salford began the second period in the ascendancy, with Rooney coming agonisingly close to connecting with an Ibou Touray low-driven cross, only before Northampton doubled their advantage on the counter.
A well-worked set-piece routine found Andy Williams at the far post, whose header back into the danger area was met by Jordan Turnbull to volley home – notching his fourth goal of the season.
The Ammies rallied in pursuit of a way back into the tie and were left feeling aggrieved once more with five minutes of normal time remaining – official Swabey was left unmoved as forward Luke Armstrong was hauled down inside the penalty area.
A frustrated Graham Alexander said: “I think the decisions have affected the result. Neither team were better than the other; I thought it was a draw if you take the decisions out the equation.
“We had certain opportunities at times, but we didn’t have the required quality. The game was won in both boxes and some things were taken out of our control.
“When things are going against us that are outside of our control, we have to keep our composure a bit better and stick to what we train for.”
The boss revealed to the media post-match that he would speak to the referee and his officials again in search of clarification over the dubious decisions.
“The penalty that was given against us is never a penalty, the lad’s dived. These things go against you when you’re away from home sometimes. That’s what happened and that was the only difference between the two teams.
“Then in the second half, we were under pressure to get back into the game, but we tried to be patient and see our way into it. We should have a lifeline for the challenge on Luke Armstrong, which is definitely a penalty.
“If the first one is given, then that’s ten times more; not given, and that’s the story of the game unfortunately. I expect better decisions because, for me, they weren’t even close. It’s so blatant, it’s actually worse than what I saw at the time.
“We have to roll with the punches, if things go against you, something outside of your own performance, you have to overcome that and unfortunately we didn’t manage to do that.”
The Ammies have no time to dwell on their misfortunes with a trip to Mansfield Town awaiting them on Tuesday evening, and although Alexander was critical of the refereeing display, he still believes his side have areas to improve on.
“We have to try and improve the performances that we can control, so that’s what we’ll try to do. I don’t think we got the ball into attacking areas good or quick enough, I don’t think we gave our front four the ball in dangerous areas enough, so that’s what we need to work on.
“I think we’ve done the basics really well in the last two games, but I thought we didn’t in the first 15 minutes of this game. We let off a team coming off the back of a bad result last week, looking for some sort of momentum.
“But then, the decision that went against us certainly helped them in that respect as well. So, for me, we have to understand what we did well in the last two games prior to this and make sure we repeat those.”