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Last gasp loss at league leaders

FT: Salford City 2    1 Tamworth

06 March 2018

In the home of the Lions, Mike Fowlers Lambs displayed pride, passion and belief above what most of the partisan crowd perhaps suspected but ultimately fell to a side that are joint favourites to win promotion either via the top spot or, if Harrogate have anything to do with it, via the play offs.

City came out of the blocks extremely quickly and it looked as if The Ammies were trying to prove a point to watching Harrogate boss Simon Weaver, but despite Aman Verma giving Tamworth a lead just before the hour, leading scorer Jack Redshaw came off the bench to round off a Salford comeback which put them back in top spot again at the final whistle.
There aren't enough column inches to give a full account of the way the game ebbed and flowed at the clinically constructed rebuild of the previously aging Moor Lane ground which, in it's previous incarnation saw Ross Dyer strike twice last season to defeat City.
Suffice to say that neither set of fans really knew which way the points were going to fall after The Lambs had held strong for the first half of the first half.
Salford brought Jack Stevens into action early and forced a corner which eventually resulted in the ball falling for Mark Shelton who drove it for goal but clipped the top of the bar with his effort and that seemed to signal what would be coming from then on as the full time side exerted a mountain of pressure on his penalty box.
Shelton's fifth minute strike was rediredted into the back of the net by Tom Walker but he was denied by a quickly raised offside flag and Tamworth were able to catch their breath again.
By the time the mid point of the first period had arrived Tamworth fans were starting to wonder if the pressure would ever relent and when a flowing move from the right started by Michael Nottingham saw the ball reach Shelton a goal seemed on the cards, as his pass through to Anthony Dudley left him with a free target to slot home into but he somehow miskicked in almost Sunday League proportions to keep the game goalles once again.
On 33, Tamworth almost caused an upset when Luke Jones expertly lifted the ball 40 yards over the Salford back line for James Gray to run on to and although he knocked it past the advancing Max Crocombe, it bounced agonisingly past the post too as the first half ended goalless.

HT: Salford City 0    0 Tamworth

The second half didn't start with as much of a bang as the first and The Lambs waited patiently for their chance, taking it in the 58th minute when Darryl Knights sent a delicate but purposeful freekick into the box and, in a similar way to the goal he bagged at Bradford Park Avenue earlier in the season, nodded it into the back of the net with the keeper left to wonder where his defence were and why he hadn't stayed on his line.
However, the much publicised City managerial duo made a double substitution on 69 and within 90 seconds it had done it's job as Redshaw rifled a diagonal shot at Stevens who did his best ot parry it but only as far as Dudley who power the ball home from 15 yards and seemed to be odds on to snatch a possible victory from The Lambs.
But Fowler made some changes to personnel too and as the game entered the final 10 minutes Zack Kotwica went one on one with Crocombe but found the keeper's left foot in just the right place to deflect his diagnoal finish away from the target and out for a corner.
Tamworth kept the tempo up and Kotwica, looking for his second goal, made a darting run into the box only to be upended.
He dusted himself down and took responsibility for what could have restored the slender lead in the 88th minute but his directed kick was not powerful one, and Crocombe made a double save to deny him and The Lambs glory.
Then, as four minutes added time was shown a long throw from the right was flicked on by Carl Piergianni and skipped through to the back post for Dudley to fire home into the net and seal victory.
Despite the obvious disappointment it was encouraging to see the whole demeanor, attitude and application of the Tamworth side looking massively improved. Fowler, like the travelling Lambs fans, were left to ruminate not only on what might have been but also what could be achieved if more of the same is dished up at Haig Avenue on Saturday afternoon.

Tamworth Team:
Stevens, Burns, Sharpe, Shaw, Jones, Lane, Knights (Kotwica 76), Verma, Asante, Thomas (Taylor 62), Gray (Morley 80)
Subs: Stabana, Kettle

Salford City Team:
Crocombe, Nottingham, Touray (Phenix 69), Maynard, Piergianni, LIvesey, Walker, Shelton, Dudley (Allen 90), Haughton, Askew (Redshaw 69)
Subs: Burton, Mafuta

Attendance: 1096

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