Jason Lowe – Photo Credit: Salford City (Charlotte Tattersall)
A dramatic second half saw nine-man Salford City snatch a point from Bristol Rovers in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at The Peninsula Stadium.
An injury-time winner from Brandon Thomas-Asante kept the Ammies unbeaten in November after Matty Willock and Ash Hunter were both shown straight red cards.
After a lacklustre first period in which Rovers’ Sam Nicholson opened the scoring, Gary Bowyer’s side bounced back and overcame the odds to keep the team on a five-game unbeaten streak.
There will, however, be a lot to dissect going into Saturday’s local derby against Oldham Athletic, with Salford likely to be relieved to come away with a point after a late Bristol goal was ruled out for offside.
The Ammies began the game on the back foot, with Bristol dominating play and not allowing the home side any chances.
Soon the pressure on the Salford defence took its toll, as Bristol striker Sam Nicholson latched on to a ball over the high-pressed back line, slotting the ball low to break the deadlock.
Salford continued to struggle to get into the game as it progressed, and with attacks led by Thomas-Asante and Tyreik Wright proving unproblematic for the away side, Willock’s sending off just before half-time compounded their problems.
The midfielder was unlucky in his misjudged tackle on Bristol playmaker Sam Finley, sending him sprawling to the floor and sending Willock to the stands.
An enforced tactical change for The Ammies seemed to rejuvenate the side going into the second half, with striker Tom Elliot returning to the side to provide an attacking threat in a front two with Thomas-Asante.
However, Salford’s momentum seemed to be stifled going into the crucial final period, as impressive substitute Ash Hunter’s game was cut short, his collision with Bristol defender Josh Grant earning him a straight red card and piling the pressure on the home team.
Against incredible odds, Salford dug deep and in the fourth minute of a 14-minute-long stoppage period, Thomas-Asante nailed an equaliser for the home side.
A drilled shot into the bottom left corner proved crucial for the Ammies, sending the crowd into chaos and levelling the game.
And despite the late drama of a Bristol headed goal being disallowed having been deemed offside, Salford hung on to a point that will feel like a massive relief.
Salford Manager Gary Bowyer praised his team’s resilience to fight back into the game, saying: “We just had to stay in the game and try and nick something.
“Tonight is a great example for them of what can be achieved if you keep believing and keep working hard and keep trying to do the right things and we’re delighted that we managed to do that.”
Bowyer also added that he did not believe that Matty Willock should have been sent off, saying that the club would appeal the decision.
Tuesday night’s draw sees Salford remain in 16th place in the Sky Bet League Two table going into a crucial local derby at the weekend against Oldham.
Having extended their unbeaten streak to five games, the Ammies will look forward to another thrilling encounter at the Peninsula Stadium.
Salford City: Connor Ripley, Donald Love, Ibou Touray, Jason Lowe, Ash Eastham (C), Tyreik Wright, Josh Morris, Matty Willock, Jordan Turnbull, Liam Shephard, Brandon Thomas-Asante.
Substitutes: Zach Jeacock, Tom Elliot, Ash Hunter, Aramide Oteh, Andy Smith, Marcus Dackers, Theo Vassell.
Bristol Rovers: James Belshaw, Josh Grant, Sam Finley, Aaron Collins, Sam Nicholson, Paul Coutts (C), Nick Anderton, Connor Taylor, Antony Evans, Cian Harries, Glenn Whelan.
Substitutes: Jed Ward, Luke Thomas, Zain Westbrooke, Pablo Martiez, Sion Spence, Brett Pitman, Ryan Jones.