With Salford City hitting five against Wakefield, we really shouldn't be reporting on the performance of the referee – again. We should be consulting the record books for the Ammies biggest victory. But, yet again, the ref conspired to ruin a classy performance as Salford ended the game with only eight men left on the pitch.
First the football. Salford took the lead after four minutes, Danny Heffernan stroking in a Nathan Taylor cross. 1-0. Fifteen minutes later, the second arrived, Rob Kinsella muscling the Wakefield centre half off the ball to give himself time and space to plant the ball past the Wakefield keeper from close range. 2-0
It could have been three minutes later but Jimmy Holden, steaming in at the far post with the goal at his mercy, headed wide. Instead the contest was effectively ended - or so fans thought – when Nathan Taylor, put through by Holden, did hit the third. 3-0.
With Nathan Taylor destroying the Wakefield full back down the right wing, and impressive debutant, Calvin Crooks, raiding down the left, Salford were in complete control.
Then came one of the best goals seen at Moor Lane for many a year. Supporters began cheering every pass as the team stroked the ball around, starting with centre back Adrian Bellamy. There were more than twenty cheered passes as virtually every player in a tangerine shirt got a touch of the ball, which eventually landed at the feet of Nathan Taylor. His right wing cross was met with a deft header from Danny Heffernan who registered his second goal and finished off a move of sublime quality.
It was the sort of goal that Match of the Day would show speeded up while Alan Hansen drooled at the `team work, spirit and determination'. With no tv cameras present and under a hundred people there to witness it, it's just tough cookies for match report readers who will have to imagine the majesty of such a goal. Go and see the Ammies for yourselves, you lazy bastards, for God's sake it's only seven quid to get in. It really was, as the supporters sang, `Like watching Brazil…'
Sublime. Totally sublime. 4-0.
As half time approached, Nathan Taylor was tripped in the area and Danny Heffernan stepped up to slam home the penalty to complete his hat-trick on his last game before departing to play in Australia for the rest of the season.
Half time 5-0, and supporters began looking to the record books which show that the Ammies have never won 6-0 in the league at this level. Surely it was only a matter of time…
The Ammies began the second half in the same mode as the brilliant first half performance, Nathan Taylor rounding the keeper but squeezing his shot just wide of the post, and sub Phil McGrath, on in place of player manager Darren Sheridan, watching his lob over the Wakefield keeper bounce off the crossbar.
In the 68th minute Salford brought on Chris Thompson and Nathan McDonald in place of Nathan Taylor and Jimmy Holden but the game suddenly turned. With one of his first touches, Thompson was scythed down by a wild challenge from a Wakefield player who got a yellow card, when it should have been a red. Thompson limped off and Salford, having used all the subs, were down to ten men.
That was the first ref mistake. Minutes later came the second ref mess up, awarding a penalty for a Rees Welsh handball when not even the Wakefield players were appealing. 5-1.
Then Jamie Rother slid in for a challenge that was late but never malicious, earning him a red card when a yellow would have been right. Salford were now down to nine men. Wakefield sensed a come back and poured forward, Salford keeper Ritchie Branagan having to make some top saves as the game suddenly became defence v attack. In the final minutes of normal time, Salford cracked as Wakefield pulled a goal back. 5-2.
In the intense on-field atmosphere, a Wakefield full back decided to slap Salford's biggest and scariest player, Rob Kinsella. Kinsella turned around and pushed him away – but it was he who got the red card, while the Wakefield player saw only yellow…and Kinsella's hands around his throat following the decision.
So Salford had to play eight minutes of added time with eight players, fearing that another sending off would see the game abandoned. The Ammies held out to finish 5-2, when, on a level playing field that record victory would surely have been achieved.
Yet again, an Evo-Stik ref had ruined a game, although this one at least saw a victory – and nothing can detract from the stunning first half performance and that Brazil-style goal that will live long in memory.
Photo by Gareth Lyons and Andrew Goudie
Main photo by Gareth Lyons shows Rob Kinsella celebrating his goal