On Saturday, I took myself down to Moor Lane, Salford to see if the Ammies could bounce back from last week`s defeat at bottom of the table Braintree. Recently, Salford have struggled against lower opposition and this game saw them facing Dover Athletic, who started the day in the bottom four of the National League. On the evidence of this game, Salford seem to be hitting a poor run of form just at the wrong time of the season.
All the build up to the game was around the appearance of Salford City co-owner, David Beckham. Since the club announced Beckham was joining his fellow Class of 92 colleagues at Moor Lane, there has been even more media interest around the club. The ex Manchester United and Real Madrid player came along with Phil Neville but their presence seemed to motivate the Dover players in yellow rather than those is red.
After a lively start from both sides, Salford took the lead with a Beckham esq goal via Dennis Politic. The Bolton Wanderers loanee lobbed the Dover goalkeeper from well out and everyone thought the flood gates would open, however, the visitors had other ideas.
Politic`s afternoon sadly went downhill when he fell awkwardly after a challenge and appeared to land on his collarbone. The Salford man was in some discomfort writhing around in pain but eventually walked off with his arm in a makeshift sling in his top.
Dover managed to weather a Salford City storm clearing off the line before they settled into their game and started causing the hosts problems. The Whites deservedly levelled on 25 minutes when the impressive Danny McNamara calmly slotted his shot into the bottom corner after Neal parried a shot from Effiong.
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Both sides had good chances to score a second during the first half in what was an open game but despite their best efforts the first half ended 1-1.
Graham Alexander made a half time substitution bringing in Lois Maynard and changed Salford`s formation several times throughout the second half in an attempt to break down Dover.
The warning signs were there for City as Athletic put in several teasing crosses which caused all sorts of problems for City’s defence. It was no surprise when the visitors took the lead 59 minutes when Doe headed in a superb cross from Taylor. Suddenly Salford had a tough task with Dover having their tails up. Despite both sides being at different ends of the table, you would have thought Dover were in the play off places not Salford.
The Ammies struggled despite Alexander making some substitutions. Salford run out of options and could not break down an organised and motivated Dover who had their tails up. Despite City having plenty of the ball, Dover always looked threatening on the counter and with 8 minutes to go Dover put the game to bed.
On a counter attack, Reason who ran himself into the ground all game picked up the ball just outside the penalty area and curled a magnificent effort into the top right hand corner. Cue delirious scenes in the away end as the 120 visiting fans enjoyed their long trip out.
In fairness to Salford, they continued to rescue a lost cause with Walker heading against the bar but it was not to be.
A thoroughly deserved three points for Dover who worked hard for their win with a real team performance. Salford trudged off wondering when this blip will end with the season entering the final third.
For long periods of the game, both sides looked evenly matched. If any of the 2,500 crowd thought this would be an easy win for Salford were very much mistaken. Dover were inspired and motivated, no one could begrudge them the victory.
With sides around Salford also dropping points, this defeat was not too damaging. The win for Dover helped them climb out of the relegation zone although the South coast club still have a fight on their hands to stay in the division.