Salford City Richie Wellens

Salford City manager, Richie Wellens, believes that his side are just warming up after they beat League Two leaders, Cambridge United on Tuesday night.

In temperatures approaching freezing, it was the Ammies who caught The U’s cold, with a 4-1 win at the Peninsula Stadium.

Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Wellens said: “I really enjoyed it [but] I still think we’ve got so much more room for improvement, I really do.

“It should give the lads a lot of confidence because I’m pleased with not only the work rate of the team but the quality as well.”

The Ammies have a number of games in hand and Wellens believes that it would not take much for his 9th placed team to climb the league table.

He added: “This is a unique season, there will be people at the top of the league who don’t deserve to be at the top of the league and there’ll be teams at the middle and the bottom that don’t deserve to be there.

“If you go on a good run; you’ve got a good togetherness; and if you’ve got a manager that’s worked with a group for a period of time… that can take you a long way.”

Wellens won the League Two title last season with Swindon Town but is realistic with what success will look like after taking over at the Peninsula Stadium in November.

He said: “We’re a new group, in terms of the group having a new manager.

We’ve got Paul Coutts, Robbie Gotts and Tom James who have come in recently and you see again, it takes time.”

The frost covers did their job at the Peninsula Stadium (Image: Sanny Rudravajhala)

A frosty reception for the visitors

With the match being brought forward to 5:30 pm to avoid the fixture being postponed for a second time due to the weather, the Ammies were having their first outing since the end of January.

From the first whistle, however, it was the home side who looked the more threatening against a team which, at the start of proceedings, were unbeaten in seven.

In a blistering first half, clinical Salford raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Ian Henderson, Richie Towell and Robbie Gotts.

Henderson bagged his second after the break before U’s forward, Paul Mullin, scored what was to be no more than a consolation for the away side.

36-year-old Henderson was lively throughout and was rewarded for his early energy after 19 minutes, dispossessing Cambridge defender, Jubril Okineda inside his own box before firing home past Callum Burton in the U’s goal.

The goal was symptomatic of a side that belied their league position with a very poor display defensively but they did have a chance to level through Declan Drysdale.

The Cambridge midfielder was put through on goal on 33 minutes but before he could pull the trigger, he was tackled by Manchester United loanee, Di’Shon Bernard.

The 20-year-old was exceptional at centre-half for the Ammies and his sliding challenge started off a counter-attack from which midfielder, Richie Towell, scored emphatically.

The Irishman latched onto a ball from Henderson to strike on the half-volley from outside of the box, the ball flying past goalkeeper Burton’s left hand as it bounced into the goal.

Red arrows in attack

Across the pitch, the men in red were in fine form.

Ash Hunter was central to breaking up Cambridge attacks down the right channel before countering and Leeds loanee, Robbie Gotts, was energetic and productive across the midfield.

Salford’s Leeds loanee, Robbie Gotts, getting the better of Declan Drysdale (Image: Salford City FC)

And it was Gotts who bagged the Ammies’ third, three minutes from the interval.

Another cheap piece of possession-play by Cambridge allowed Gotts to bring down a Burton clearance before playing an incisive one-two with Henderson.

With the goal at his mercy, he side-footed past the ‘keeper, with the ball nestling into the same right-hand corner as the first two strikes.

With a goal and two assists to his name, Ian Henderson could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels after the break but the former Rochdale frontman relishes any opportunity to find the back of the net.

It took until the 69th minute for him to grab his second, stabbing home a cross-cum-shot by Hunter from the far right corner of the box.

Salford City Striker Ian Henderson (Image: Salford City FC)

At four down, sorry Cambridge were left wanting to get back down the M6 as soon as possible.

And with temperatures plummeting and the pitch hardening, Paul Mullin’s effort from 6-yards, three minutes later, will be nothing but a footnote in a game that had long since been settled.

Mullin, with 20 league goals to his name this season, tops the scorers charts but was kept mostly quiet by an Ammies defence that had lost captain, Tom Clarke, nine minutes after the restart.

Injury blow

A clash of heads with U’s left-back, Harrison Dunk, led to Clarke’s being replaced by Ash Eastham and Richie Wellens confirmed after the game that Clarke will miss three weeks due to the newly introduced concussion protocol.

The Ammies boss said that whilst losing Clarke will be a blow, it is an opportunity for Eastham to reclaim his place in Wellens’ side, having missed out on a starting berth against Cambridge.

The focus of this performance, however, lies at the other end of the pitch.

With co-owner Gary Neville in attendance, the Ammies know that the targets from the boardroom can be met with performances like this.

And after surviving the elements, Wellens plans to show that his side will not be freezing up under the weight of expectation at the Peninsula stadium.

Flurries of snow fell at the Peninsula Stadium as temperatures approached freezing (Image: Salford City FC)

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