Salford City's Christmas casualty list amounted to five regular players after away games at Ramsbottom and Darlington, so it was back to Moor Lane for the New Year Day clash with Radcliffe Borough with yet another patched up team and only two subs.
This would normally be a game that the Ammies banked on winning, Borough having been trounced 6-0 at home by Cammell Laird in their last fixture. As it was, in the first half, despite the injury ravaged side dominating and going close with long range shots, Salford couldn't make the breakthrough. The team's attacking strength was weakened even further when left back Tom Walker limped off and winger Jamie Tandy had to drop back to cover. Half time 0-0.
The game sparked into life early in the second half when, within six minutes of the re-start, Radcliffe had shocked the home team with two quick goals, both knocked in from the edge of the six yard box. 0-2.
The setback shunted the Ammies into life, a Matty Purcell cross skimming almost across the goal line with no-one on hand to touch it in. However, with sixty minutes of the match gone, Stuart Cook took a through ball and dinked it past the keeper to pull a goal back. 1-2.
Five minutes later, and Salford drew level. A short corner was played to Jamie Tandy whose cross was nodded on, and then headed in by Rio Ahmadi at the back post. 2-2.
After battling back into the game, the Ammies went for their rival's jugular, a Radcliffe defender desperately heading one ball off the line during one frantic attack. With fifteen minutes to go Salford finally took the lead, Rio Ahmadi meeting a through ball, taking it past the keeper and walking it into the net for his second goal. 3-2.
Radcliffe refused to lie down and one effort hit the base of the Salford post. But down the other end their keeper saved them from certain defeat, blocking a close range Richard Smith shot with his feet.
However, with only one minute left of normal time Radcliffe rescued the game when a rare defensive mistake from Aaron Walters set up ex-Salford player and joint manager Chris Thompson – who else? – to smash home the equaliser. 3-3.
An exciting game for the neutrals but in the end this will be seen as two home points dropped, despite having almost half the regular team sidelined with injuries.
Photos by Andrew Goudie