On a cold dark miserable day in Ossett…a day when even the famous Ossett cows didn't bother showing up, except as a slabbed prize in the half time raffle…Salford City lost a seven match unbeaten league run to the vagaries of the referee's whistle.
This was a tale of two penalties – one given to Ossett in the first half for what looked like an innocuous challenge followed by the usual swan dive – and one not given to Salford in the second half after Adam Morning was scythed down inside the area.
Morning, by far Salford's best player on the day, was so obviously targeted by Ossett for `special treatment'. The Salford winger had already brought the scores level in the 58th minute with a power drive from the edge of the area to wipe out Ossett's disputed first half penalty lead. And, ten minutes later, as he was dazzling the Ossett defence inside the area preparing space to shoot, he was hacked down by a trailing boot. But the referee waved play on. A shocking decision.
Morning again went close with a shot that whistled past the post, while a Jamie Baguley free kick was saved spectacularly by the Ossett keeper as it headed into the top right corner of the net. Meanwhile, the Ossett defence tried all sorts of wind ups and niggling fouls to stop Adam Morning, with the ref giving no protection to the star Salford man.
Eventually, in frustration, Morning lunged into a midfield tackle in which he came off worse, twisted a leg, and was stretchered off with a yellow card waving in his face. Ossett's nasty little needling had paid dividends.
Up to this point, Ossett had been absolutely no danger, with their only shot on target the first half penalty. With Salford's danger man off the pitch their confidence seemed to grow and they ventured forward more often. A corner in the 91st minute wasn't cleared by the Salford defence as it squirmed its way through the six yard box to a yellow shirted forward and Ossett had an unlikely victory.
Ossett, with its horrid little sloping uneven pitch, is fast becoming a bogey ground for Salford City, having conceded ten goals in two matches there last season. Had Cayne Hanley's shot in the first half gone in rather than hitting a post…had the referee awarded the Salford penalty…had the referee got a grip of the Ossett defence winding up Adam Morning…the result would have been different. Indeed, a draw wouldn't have done justice to Salford's performance. As it was, the Ammies lost in the most horrid way to a team not fit to lace Adam Morning's boots.
But if Salford City's play off hopes are to be realised they really have to be turning over teams like this, as well as raising their game against the top clubs.
Now it's back to Ossett Town on Tuesday night – let's hope that the Ammies can make them pay for their village neighbour's violations.
The next home match for Salford City is next Saturday 17th December v Mossley kick off 3pm Admission: £7/£3
On Boxing Day there's the big local derby away at Radcliffe Borough 3pm kick off.
More details at www.salfordcityfc.co.uk
Photos by Andrew Goudie and Gareth Lyons