Quick-fire Salford double downs Avenue
Mark Bower was left to rue squandered opportunities and poor second-half defending as visitors Salford City claimed a 2-1 victory in a match overshadowed by a bizarre red-card incident.
Two changes were made to Avenue’s starting eleven, one of these changes being forced by an injury to Ryan Toulson in Tuesday night’s draw with Harrogate Town. The aforementioned full-back was replaced by experienced defender James Knowles, with the other change seeing Nicky Clee replace Danny Boshell in midfield.
The wind was, quite literally, in Avenue’s sails in the first-half, as the visitors struggled to contain the relentless nature of the home side’s attacks. Javan Vidal came close to breaking the deadlock early on, as his deflected shot came agonisingly close to finding the top corner.
Avenue were soon rewarded for their early pressure when Nicky Clee was hauled down in the twelve-yard box by Carl Piergianni, with the referee being quick to point to the penalty spot. Oli Johnson stepped up, and made no mistake as he calmly converted the first goal of the game.
Salford remained on the back-foot following Johnson’s opener, and Luca Havern was the next to come close. A Clee delivery from a wide position eluded him by mere inches, but Avenue remained in control.
Johnson then came close to doubling his tally for the day when he forced a strong palm from Crocombe at his near-post with a close-range effort.
The second-half was a different story, as Salford emerged looking like a completely different outfit.
Richie Allen drove into the box with pace, and Hall was delighted to see his shot strike the side-netting. Although a half-chance, it seemed to rejuvenate Salford and inspire what was soon to be an impressive comeback.
Touray swung in a testing free-kick that looked destined to find a blue shirt, but it somehow evaded everyone, to the frustration of Salford’s away following.
It wasn’t long, however, before Salford struck, and when they did they turned the match on its head in a matter of minutes.
Michael Phenix opened the scoring when he found space just inside the area, and struck low beyond the outstretched palm of a helpless Hall. Barely four minutes then passed before the visitors had scored another. Gus Mafuta had only entered the fray a minute before the first goal, but was on hand to bag the second with a well-struck effort a narrow angle.
Salford continued to pile on the pressure, before an incident that can only be described as bizarre occurred. To the bemusement of everyone inside the ground, the opposition’s goalkeeper, Max Crocombe, decided to leave his post to urinate behind his net. The incident was reported to the referee by a linesman, and the decision was made to dismiss Crocombe for the absurd behaviour. This briefly allowed Avenue back into the game, but the damage had been inflicted and there wasn’t enough time remaining to test stand-in goalkeeper, Richie Allen.
Avenue return to the Horsfall Stadium on Saturday, where they are visited by Blyth Spartans.