Salford City ended 2011 in style today with three beautifully executed goals that sunk Radcliffe Borough in the big Evo-Stik First Division derby.
The Ammies went a goal up after only two minutes when Scott Metcalfe controlled the ball on the edge of the area, slipped it past a defender and hammered a shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Steve Murty almost doubled the score ten minutes later with another piece of class, carrying the ball from his own half and hitting a shot that curled and swirled over the Borough keeper, only to crash off the top of the crossbar.
Next it was Danny Heffernan's turn to switch on the style, passing to Gavin Salmon in the area before collecting his neat backheel and driving the ball into the same bottom right hand corner of the net that Scott Metcalfe had rattled earlier.
Radcliffe's only real reply was a shot that brought out the best in keeper Chris Howarth. Salford City went in at half time with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
The second half saw the Ammies start shakily, as Chris Howarth again had to be at his best with a flying save to knock a goalbound shot over the bar, while a few minutes later Radcliffe hit the post when it seemed easier to score. Salford soon regained composure, with Ben Beresford replacing Raphael Evans, and Cayne Hanley coming on for Gavin Salmon.
Indeed, Cayne Hanley could have scored with almost his first touch, going through on goal but, under pressure from a Radcliffe defender's elbow, hitting his shot narrowly wide. After 68 minutes, though, Cayne scored a wonder goal, whipping in a shot from well outside the area that curled and swirved and completely out-foxed the Borough keeper, who could only watch the ball whizz into the net. 3-0.
This was a top class performance from Salford City which moves Rhodri Giggs' Tangerine Army to within five points of a play-off place. With the new stand at Moor Lane looking likely to get the go-ahead (see www.salfordcityfc.co.uk), 2012 could yet be the greatest ever year in Salford City's history.
Meanwhile, it's Prescott Cables at home on January 2nd, 3pm kick off
Photos by Gareth Lyons