There's wind, there's howling wind… and then there's the Warrington wind which almost lifted the Wires' stadium into the river next door. It was against these gusts that Salford were fighting in a first half that saw the ball constantly blown back towards their goal.
Warrington, having won the toss, chose to have the wind with them in the first 45minutes and this ultimately won them the game, building up a three goal advantage before facing the gale in the second half.
Kicks by Salford keeper Dan Fradd either sailed out of play or blew straight back as he tried to come to terms with the dreadful conditions. Early on Warrington inevitably took the lead, a hoof up field catching the keeper in two minds whether to come for the ball or stay. He came to the edge of his area but a Warrington forward nipped in first and rounded him to slot in the opener. 1-0.
Salford fought back with Mark Battersby blatantly barged over in the area only for the ref to wave play on. Instead of the Ammies drawing level from what should have been a penalty, Warrington increased their lead after 21minutes. The Salford defence struggled to deal with a swirling cross and the clearance only found a Warrington winger who hammered the ball back into the area for a forward to drill home to make it 2-0.
Again Salford fought back, with a vicious Jamie Tandy volley taking a slight deflection that took it just wide of the post. The ref, of course, gave a goal kick. And almost from that goal kick Warrington went down the other end and made it 3-0, with the wind hampering Salford's efforts to clear a cross.
Half time: 3-0 to the wind and ref.
In the second half, with the wind in their favour, Salford piled on the pressure. The game had hardly got underway when a Warrington defender blocked a shot from Matty Purcell with his raised elbow. No penalty. Incensed by the decision, Salford piled forward with twenty minutes of sustained attacking.
An inswinging Jamie Tandy corner almost caught out former Ammies keeper, Josh Ollerenshaw, who punched it away on the the goal line. Another Tandy corner nearly found Rio Ahmadi lurking at the far post, a defender scrambling it out for yet another corner. A Warren Gaskin shot from distance sailed agonisingly just over the bar.
Ollerenshaw repeated his goal line punching from Tandy's evil corners twice more before the former Man City winger was inexplicably subbed. Meanwhile, Rob Kinsella, on for Rio Ahmadi, blasted over from eight yards out when it looked easier to score, the ball finding him after the keeper had parried a Matty Purcell shot.
Next up came another top Ollerenshaw block from Mark Battersby, the ball again falling for Kinsella, whose shot this time was cleared off the line. And Ollerenshaw again stopped Salford from getting back into the game, punching over a wind flighted Richard Smith free kick from way out.
With a couple of Kinsella headers dropping just wide, it looked like Salford wouldn't get the goal their play deserved but, after five minutes of added time, Mark Battersby rounded the keeper to give the Ammies a consolation goal for their substantial efforts. 3-1.
On another day it would have been another famous fightback from Salford but struggling to cope with the first half conditions ultimately cost them the game which put Warrington top of the league.
Photos by Andrew Goudie