`Fasten yer seatbelts'…here comes Salford!
With ten minutes left and no score, Rhodri Giggs picks up the ball on the edge of the area, controls it, ghosts past the defender, and slots a shot past the Hyde goalie. And it's `Wembe-e-erley…Wemberrrleeeeeeeeeeee…We're the famous Salford City and we're going to Wembe-e-erley… Wemberrrrleeee… Wemberrrleeeeeeeeeeee'…
What a team! What fantastic brilliant times Salford City are giving us lately. Last season it was the heart stopping, bum squeaking salvation of The Great Escape. This season it's a fabulous FA Cup run, as the team, unjustly rock bottom of the Unibond Division One, stuffed a side two leagues above us in the Blue Square North…
Having forced a last minute equaliser at Hyde United's ground on Tuesday it was back to Moor Lane for the replay. A Moor Lane that has literally risen from the ashes of last week's fire, and - thanks to Salford Council officers and councillors, Seddons builders and the Ammies' army of volunteers – sported a food stall, a women's wonderland of a portakabin and two temporary bars, all well appreciated by the club's biggest crowd of the season, nearly 400 people.
You could even buy salvaged Salford City key rings still smelling of the fire, while the half time raffle prize winner won a bottle of smoked booze…But the real fireworks were going off on the pitch where Salford City's destiny in the FA Cup is taking shape.
For the first 35 minutes of this tense game, nothing really happened, as Hyde's nasty offside trap caught Salford loads, and when it didn't their central defenders mopped up everything that came their way. Meanwhile, Salford's defence squashed the few Hyde attacks on offer. It was stalemate. And then…
And then…ten minutes before half time everyone stood gawping as a long ball found Rhodri Giggs on his own a few yards out and onside. He hooked it on the volley towards the top right corner of the net but somehow the ball wandered wide. A few minutes later Hyde broke forward with three on two but Salford hero Andy Robertson saved the final shot…and seconds before half time a goalmouth melee almost saw Salford take the lead as the ball pinged around the Hyde six yard box without pinging into the net.
The second half followed a similar pattern with defences on top but Hyde had their chances with a flurry of free kicks on the edge of the area that all came to nothing. Then, three quarters of the way through the game Salford opened the scoring with Giggs knocking in a centre from the left…but no. The gozzy-eyed fussy flag waver had called it offside.
With the end of the game in sight, no score, and extra time and penalties looming, surely it was time to bring on super sub Lathan Forrester, making his first show of the season after a trial at Oldham. This guy can walk through defences on his own…but he wasn't needed as Rhodri Giggs swept in the winner and the roof nearly came off what's left of Moor Lane.
Super Salford City march on in the FA Cup and the whole place is getting behind the team. Norman Owen - an Ammies player when they were still kicking leather caseys around the pitch and now leader and general election candidate for the Salford Lib Dems - was at the game actually paying tribute to the Labour Council's efforts to help the club following the fire.
"I just want thank everyone who's contributed this week…the Council, John Merry, who contacted his officers and Urban Vision to come down and assess the damage, and Seddons who have worked very hard all week to secure the fire damaged buildings and put down portakabins for refreshment provisions and toilets" he said "Excellent work and I can't thank everyone enough. And then there's today's result against a team that's 53 places above us – I will be here on Tuesday night to watch them play Blyth Spartans, and I'd say to John Merry, `forget the Baggies this is the team'…"
Meanwhile, Salford City Chairman, Darren Quick, is still completely shell shocked at the drama enveloping the club since he took over…
"When I first coined my catch phrase about keeping those seatbelts fastened tight I thought things would be a lot calmer by now" he wrote in his programme notes "Surely there can't be anything else lurking around the corner. But in case there is, and turbulence can strike out of the blue, I recommend everyone remains seated while flying in the company of Salford City FC!"
And flying they certainly are…Bring on Blyth Spartans!
Salford City v Blyth Spartans FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
Moor Lane Tuesday October 13th kick off 7:45pm