What a sickener. First no-one in the Bamber club house seemed to know where the `Bridge' is in Bamber Bridge. And second, Salford City were five minutes from a richly deserved victory when it was cruelly snatched away by some bloke of about 90 who came on as a late sub.
This game was about as pulsating as it gets in non league land. Goals, action, great saves, a good old fashioned fight in the centre circle – and a sandpit behind the corner flag. Who could ask for more? If Salford City could have seen this one out it would have been the perfect afternoon. But it wasn't to be, and left supporters wondering how we've managed to throw away three zillion points lately by drawing or losing matches we should have walked.
Bamber might have been one or even two goals up after only twenty minutes, when, first, one of their forwards managed to miss an open goal by a yard, and then Andy Roberston pulled off a brilliant save from a well hit shot.
However, it was Salford who took the lead when Steve Foster – hero goal scorer of last season's Great Escape – marked his return from Witton Albion by bamboozling the Bamber defence and slotting in from a tight angle. 1-0 Salford.
Bamber came straight back and Salford relied on Andy Roberston making another top save from a long range shot, but minutes later he could do nothing about the equaliser, another soft goal from a corner. 1-1.
It was honours even too, after a mass brawl in the centre circle when players weighed into each other but only a yellow card for each team ensued. Just after, Ammies fans thought we'd taken the lead when Stuart Tulloch, playing his best game since joining the club, lobbed the Bamber goalie and the net shimmied but the ball had just squeezed over the bar. Half time 1-1.
Half time stuff to ponder:
Salford is a big city with hundreds of thousands of potential fans. So why are we stuck in the Unibond North Division 1, having to visit little villages that are hardly on a map? Take Bamber Bridge – stuck somewhere up the backside of Preston. They've got a full page advert in their programme encouraging their fans to take up Morris Dancing. They've got a sand pit and a pair of step ladders by the side of the goal. They've got fans who just sit texting their mates all afternoon and don't even clap in case the thing falls off their lap. And along one touchline is a whole row of houses – and not one single person was even watching from a bedroom window.
Surely Salford deserves better than this? Manchester United fans who give a shit about corporate robbery should seriously think of backing Salford City next season… 500 new fans would put us in a different league completely.
As it was, Salford fans were soon singing two minutes into the second half when a superb Stuart Tulloch drive from outside the area was only kept out by a flying save from the Bamber keeper. The sod was at it again five minutes later, saving well from Steve Foster's shot. But after 60 minutes he could do nothing about a Rhodri Giggs penalty, given after Steve Foster was tripped in the area. 2-1 Salford.
Again, The Ammies could only hold the lead for a short time before Bamber equalised, a great block by Andy Robertson falling luckily for a forward to knock in. 2-2.
Salford went out in front again from a Stuart Tulloch header and managed to keep the score 3-2 right until the near the end, totally dominating play. The Ammies should have been out of sight but allowed Bamber back into it, with their 90 year old sub, looking way too lively, hitting yet another equaliser in the 88th minute.
A 3-3 draw would have been a disappointment but with seconds to go Bamber scored the winner direct from a free kick, conceded when Andy Robertson rushed from his goal to clobber a forward who was about to shoot. The final whistle went shortly after, to the joy of three Bamber supporters in the main stand – the rest clapped politely. And still not a soul bothered to peep from those bedroom windows.
4-3 to Bamber – how did we manage to lose that? Just as sure as someone's robbed the bridge in Bamber, Salford was robbed today.
Photos by Andrew Goudie