It was supposed to be high noon for struggling Radcliffe Borough, as the midday Boxing Day derby would normally have seen Salford City surely take three points from the not very noisy neighbours. But the Ammies hadn't played for over a month and had three key players out through suspension…
…Not that anyone noticed from the kick off, as Salford City totally dominated possession during an opening period that saw Jimmy Holden whizz a curling shot just over the bar from the edge of the area.
Despite weaving pretty patterns through the Radcliffe defence, clear cut chances were few, and towards the end of the half, Salford keeper, Ritchie Branagan, made three class saves which kept the Ammies level at half time.
First Branagan dived to his right to stop a shot that was curling inside the post, then he clawed out a shot heading for the top left corner of the net, and finally got the better of a Radcliffe forward who looked certain to score in a one on one break. Superb keeping to keep the half time score 0-0.
The second half followed the same pattern, with Salford dominating possession but Radcliffe making the best chances. Early in the half a Salford defender had to acrobatically clear off the line when a Borough goal looked certain, and later a Radcliffe forward headed wide when it looked easier to score. The Ammies hit back, with Jamie Rother fizzing a shot just wide of the post. However it was the substitutes that were to almost swing the game in the Ammies favour.
First, on came winger Osebi Abadaki, and, later, Tre Baldwin-Willis making his debut. It was their combination with ten minutes left that opened the scoring for Salford. Osebi on the right, bamboozled a couple of defenders before crossing for Baldwin-Lewis to drill home his first tangerine goal into the bottom right hand corner of the net. 1-0
Almost from the kick off, however, Radcliffe equalised from a burst, a break and a shot that Branagan this time couldn't keep out. 1-1. With Salford sickened not to hold the lead, Radcliffe sensed uncertainty and piled on the pressure during four minutes of added time but Branagan again made a couple of good saves to ensure the point.
After over a month with no football, Salford City are at least back in business and hope to start moving up the league with victory at Goole on Saturday, before the next big derby at home to Trafford on New Year's Day.
Next match at Moor Lane Salford City FC v Trafford 1st January 3pm £7/£3
Further detail www.salfordcityfc.co.uk
Photos by Gareth Lyons
* Win a signed The Wanted t-shirt!!!
The great Salford City FC Christmas Raffle has been extended past Christmas as there were no games. So tickets are still on sale with top prizes including a signed The Wanted t-shirt (Max George used to play for Salford City), a round of golf for four people, and loads of other fab stuff - even a very rare Salford Star mug! Tickets are 50p each or £5 for a book. Buy them at the Trafford game, from the club or via Salford Star...