Tuesday 22nd November 2011
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
SALFORD CITY 3 SKELMERSDALE UNITED 3
Admission: £7 (Concessions £3)
Tea Hut purchase: Chicken cup-a-soup £1
Weather: Fairly clear evening, very chilly
Parking: 50 yards up the road from the gate
A busy night of football for the local clubs from around these parts but beware of cheap substitutes and inferior products..... forget the local playboys playing another round of over-hyped glory hunting down at Old Trafford, and shove the Etihad fueled millionaires poncing around the Bay of Naples..... tonights real football action was at the proud Moor Lane home of Salford City Football Club. I like the Moor Lane ground, it has a great old fashioned stand with plenty of leg room (almost like a life size subbuteo model but without the plastic), there are loud, witty and proud local supporters who continually get behind the team (no matter what ups and downs are occurring on the pitch) and there is an 'uncut' genuine warming football feeling that oozes out of the atmosphere from every nook and cranny. The tragic loss of the burned-down clubhouse a couple of seasons ago has not dampened the likeable character of the place. Salford have simply picked themselves up and just got on with it, rebuilt and remodelled.
Nice to see the Tea Hut in full swing, a steady stream of punters were queuing up for goodies, the burgers appeared to be very much in demand for the travelling Skelmersdale supporters, I got stuck in the line behind some of them and they bought loads of stuff. Come my turn I just had a chicken cup-a-soup, Frugal Glenn reluctantly handed me the quid for it, the arrangement is he gets me something from the Tea Hut in return for door to door travel to the game and back (he wasn't too keen to pay up this evening, he is immensely tight though). We took up a position in the Main Stand just to the left of the singers who regularly stand at the back in front of the big orange and black banners. They make a racket but I would recommend sampling it if you get the chance of a visit to these parts, it provides a lift to the proceedings not often witnessed at this level and its great fun listening to the cutting wit and the cheery songs.
Not sure if the gathered Skelmersdale supporters liked it much, perhaps it was their first time at Moor Lane and were not expecting it, the boisterous Salford lot were 'giving-it-large' to some of the visitors players who started the game like fluffy rabbits caught in the headlights. Skelmersdale had tactically adopted a Serie-A old Channel 4 Sunday afternoon Italian style game plan, it didn't work. Their back four continually passed the ball between themselves, sideways and backwards for ages, then they lost it without having made any headway. The Salford fans and the Salford team loved it. That crafty poacher spearheading the Salford attack, Gavin Salmon, was having one of his 'on' days, in fact I've never seen him play as well! His first goal was sheer class, a crafty step-over, the drop of a shoulder, a cut inside... next comes the traditional Gavin Salmon shot which usually ends up in a nearby back garden, not this time, Gavin struck a beauty which flew precisely into the nets like a stealth missile on a computer game, Frugal Glenn spilled his Bovril in shock. Up went the magical chant "Feed The Fish And He Will Score", tremendous! Halfway through the first half Gavin Salmon got a second, a real poachers goal after some cutting go-forward approach play from Morning and Metcalfe.
To their credit, Skelmersdale are a fine footballing side and they ditched the over-cautious fancy pants stuff to immediately grab a goal back. They started to apply more pressure on Salford but surprise, surprise, the home side went up the other end before half time and grabbed a third to make it 3-1, Salford were in dream land! Half time gave a chance for everyone to draw breath, it had been a very good first half of quality football and we all knew there was surely more drama to follow.
I popped by the brightly lit pitchside club shop during the break and a really nice chap was doing his best to politely get me to buy something. He'd been busy during the first half writing out his own marketing posters and missed all of Salfords three goals, he reminded me that the team had recently started to put on much better performances, including a 4-2 away win at Durham last Saturday.
Me and Frugal stood on the opposite touchline for the second half, amazing how much colder it was out in the open, the temperature was dropping fast. Skelmersdale went through the gears in that last 45 and really stretched the home side to breaking point. They got a second in the 52nd minute from a Tony Rendell header and at 3-2 the game was wide open again. Despite some lengthy periods of Skelmersdale possession, Salford still continued to counter-attack and rip through the visitors defence, Gavin Salmon almost had a magical hat trick, so near yet so far for 'The Fish'. The expected equaliser for Skelmersdale was being pushed further and further from view, could Salford hold out and take all 3 points? Sadly it was not to be, Skem got the crucial (scrambled) leveller with only 4 minutes left to play, one could argue it was deserved on the entire balance of play but it was a hard pill to swallow. Salford almost pulled off a sensational last gasp winner in injury time, as me and Frugal ambled behind the nets towards the gate Rhodri Giggs had a free header only a few yards out, almost in slow motion the ball looked to be going in before it disappointingly slipped wide of the target. Giggs fell to his knees, head in the turf, I could clearly hear his despair "No, no, no, no". Great game though.