Andy Heald hardly had the easiest of starts as caretaker manager with a trip to top of the table Mossley, minus six first team players either suspended or gone…
Player manager Darren Sheridan and captain Jimmy Holden left the club after the 5-2 win against Wakefield, while defender Jameel Ible recently signed for York City and striker Danny Heffernan returned to play in Australia. Midfield dynamo Jamie Rother and centre forward Rob Kinsella were both suspended.
The Ammies, playing in light blue, rose to the occasion with a battling performance that could have seen them nick all three points at the end. Instead of parking the bus, Salford took the game to the hillbillies, with some free flowing attacking football that saw the ball mostly in Mossley's half.
The table toppers' game seem to be based on soaking up the pressure and then hoofing the ball over the top of the defence for attackers to chase. It worked wonders in the 18th minute when the Mossley centre forward latched onto such a hoof. His first shot was well saved by Ritchie Branagan but he got the lucky rebound to open the scoring. 1-0.
Salford fans expected the many assembled Mossley supporters to go wild, but there was barely a cheer, as if their gobs were still full of sheep. Instead it was the Ammies who upped the spirits, with Ossie Abadaki slamming a stunning shot from outside the area against the post.
Salford were soon level with a very strange goal, the origin of which was missed by many. Mossley had a free kick about forty yards out from their own goal, and either someone tried an over-elaborate pass back to their keeper, or the hoof up field was blocked by Salford's Danny White…
…Whatever, the result was the ball flying back over the keeper's bemused psyche into the net for the equaliser. 1-1. This reporter missed that particular action, as a horse and cart was blocking the view but Danny White has been officially credited with the goal.
Mossley, however, refused to lie down – unlike the referee who metaphorically lay down with his legs open, urging Mossley to go ahead…
Just before half time a ball was swung over, Salford keeper Branagan came to catch but was barged by the Mossley bruisers masquerading as footballers. The ball squirmed out of the hapless keeper's hands and was hooked back across the goal for a forward to head home.
The hill-blinded, whistling clown saw nothing wrong and the goal stood. The Mossley fans went ecstatic!!! Er, no they didn't, they stood silently, continuing to chew sheep in their dreams… Half time 2-1.
The second half saw Salford continually raiding down the wings, while Mossley continued their hoof and run tactics which nearly brought rewards but for some fine goal keeping by Ritchie Branagan, some great defending by Jack Lane and Adrian Bellamy – and some lamentable shooting which must have frightened the sheep in field Z.
Mid-way through the half, however, Salford equalised when a corner was powerfully back-heeled towards goal by Nathan McDonald. The ball hit the shin of the Mossley number 4 and squirmed into the net. 2-2.
Right at the death, Nathan McDonald could have wrapped up the points for the Ammies but his shot from inside the area flew over the bar. So a draw it was – and Andy Heald, who has applied for the manager's job, can be well happy with his first game in charge.
Next up for Salford City FC – Prescott Cables at Moor Lane on Tuesday night (5th Feb) 7:45pm kick off, and Cammell Laird at home on Saturday 9th Feb 3pm. Further details at www.salforcityfc.co.uk
* No sheep were harmed during the making of this match report.