With this match almost over, Salford City were cruising. Leading by a first half deftly finished goal by Steve Foster, put through by Lee Neville, the Ammies could have been four up such was their total domination…
And then, with a few minutes remaining on the clock, a Leigh forward tumbled in the area, half an hour after a Salford defender had cleanly won the ball. Mr Coco, incredibly, unbelievably, pointed to the spot, despite the ongoing protests of every single Salford player.
The penalty was dispatched for the equaliser and, as Salford's players lost their concentration amidst the indignation, Leigh scored a winner in injury time to give them the undeserved points. `Cheats…Cheats… Cheats' echoed around the Salford end. But the fabulous run of seven victories on the bounce is over.
In fairness to Coco, he was consistent throughout, giving Salford City absolutely nothing and over ruling his own linesman with ridiculous decisions. `Had he come from the Subbuteo league?', fans wondered out loud after just five minutes of this shocking performance. Nope. This ref had come direct from Billy Smart's.
Meanwhile, chance after chance came Salford's way – in the first half alone, the Leigh keeper had to make a fabulous diving save to keep out Martyn Andrews' shot from the edge of the area, and Lewis Nightingale put a shot the wrong side of the post with the whole open goal gaping before him. In the second half, Billy McCartney couldn't quite finish at the far post, and Rhodri Giggs, clean through, was ruled unfairly offside. Genesis offered nothing in return, bar a first half overhead shot that Salford keeper, Andy Robertson, dived full length to push away.
But this game will long be remembered by Salford City fans for the worst refereeing decision of the season. That, however, should not stop the party at Moor Lane this Saturday when admission for everyone is free – maybe Coco can turn up and show us his joke whistle, again…
Salford City End Of Season Party This Saturday
Salford City v Woodley Sports
3pm kick off.
Photography by Andrew Goudie