Salford City 0 Curzon Ashton 1
"Same old Curzon…Always cheating…."
This has become a regular chant whenever Salford City play Curzon Ashton these days. A more cynical, nasty team Salford has yet to meet. Players staying down `injured' to waste time and get opponents sent off, fists flying - and a useless referee as ringmaster to this circus of soccer malevolence.
The game should have been a showcase for lower league football – the FA Cup on display, ITV News filming the occasion, loads of local kids and proud dads holding their babies, posing by the Cup. What should have been a really special occasion was marred as soon as the FA Cup went off on its travels and the game began.
Salford, still with too many players missing, laboured to create any solid chances, while Ashton, methodical in defence and lacking flair up front, were content to hold on for the draw. But all that changed five minutes into the second half when the referee awarded a penalty that only he could see, Curzon's centre forward claiming he was held back by Billy McCartney.
One nil up, and the cries of `Same old Curzon…always cheating' were only matched by the scorn directed at the referee. Yet another shocking decision for Salford City – but the worst was yet to come.
Martyn Andrews was sent off half an hour into the half after Ashton midfielder, Ogoo, had fooled the referee that he'd been seriously injured by a challenge. Then five minutes later, Salford City's Matty Cross got sent off as well, together with Ashton player Luke Mack who was the initial culprit, raising his arm into Cross's face.
Indeed, all through the second half Curzon Ashton were rolling around on the deck feigning injury, starting scraps and winding up the Salford City players. Even Curzon's manager raised his fist towards Salford's fans at the final whistle, as Curzon left the pitch to cries of `You know you don't deserve it' and `Cheats, cheats, cheats!'. But Curzon go back to their horrible, windswept built-the-wrong-way-round no atmosphere ground with the points.
Meanwhile, the referees in the Evo-Stik North Division 1 get worse with every game. While Salford City didn't play well by any stretch - a Jamie Baguley free kick tipped over the bar by the Curzon keeper being the nearest they came to a goal - rubbish referees and cynical cheating teams don't help.
The magic of football was packed away with the FA Cup before kick off at Moor Lane last night…
Perhaps Salford City were saving themselves for the really big game…
Saturday 11th September
Kick Off 3pm £7/£3
FA CUP 1ST QUALIFYING ROUND
SALFORD CITY v NORWICH VICTORIA
Moor Lane, Kersal, Salford
Photos by Andrew Goudie