Salford City made it two clean sheets in a row as they beat Ilkeston 2-0 at Moor Lane to keep their hopes of double promotion alive.
A superb strike from Jordan Hulme and a mistake from Ilkeston goalie Jamie Hannis secured the win and keep The Ammies firmly in the play-off places.
With Darlington dropping points, it makes Tuesday’s game at Heritage Park all the more important.
If they can recover from their defeat at Moor Lane at the hand of The Quakers a fortnight ago, then that will take a massive amount of pressure off The Ammies as they look for back-to-back promotions.
It’s a fact that co-manager Bernard Morley knows, and is hoping to exploit when The Ammies make the trip to Northumberland on Tuesday evening.
Speaking after the match Morley stated: “We all know what’s at stake we got two wins two clean sheets, and with them (Darlington) losing we know it’s going to be a tough game they have to win at all costs Tuesday, and we’ve got to go there and put right what went wrong when we played them here”.
Both teams started the game in the exact opposite fashion of the the away fixture last week; with the opening ten minutes having all the openness and intensity that the chess match at The New Meadow lacked.
However for all the chances in the opening half hour, neither team could open their account.
Despite Salford having the lion’s share of possession, Ilkeston were still looked dangerous, and their youthful side was passing the ball with the same ability as the reverse fixture only a week ago.
Daniel Udoh would give the visitors their first major chance of the game, when he took on a snap shot from 15 yards, and although it was hit with power the pacy striker couldn’t direct his shot as it blazed over the bar.
The Ammies faithful thought they had took the lead on the ten minuite mark, however Seddon was judged to be just in front of the back four as the goal was disallowed by the assistant.
Haydon Goddard wasted a golden opportunity for The Robins two minutes later; after a solid string of passing play the ball fell to the midfielder who looked set to bury it. However, his shot was tame after hitting the ball off balance.
The visiting fans who came in strong numbers continued to spurn on their young side. They were almost rewarded with the best chance of the game just after the 20 minuite mark.
Daniel Udoh did superbly well after receiving the ball from midfield to dribble past Chris Lynch. The former Grays Athletic attacker then delivered a superb ball to Michael Williams on the opposite edge of the box.
The academy graduate looked certain to score with a well placed shot that had stand in keeper Craig Dootson well beat, however the ball tricked inches the wrong side of the post.
If that was the visitors best chance of the half the hosts’ would come 10 minutes later when a swinging cross was fired in from deep, Josh Hine looked certain to score from the middle with a first time shot. However, Jamie Hannis did well to tip the ball over the bar and keep the scores level.
It was the chance that saw Salford start to put Ilkeston to the sword however, as on minute 33 Jordan Hulme would hit a powerful effort that had Hannis well beat, however was denied by the post.
Between the two major opportunities though saw The Ammies receive a major setback to their strike force, as Gareth Seddon was withdrawn early with what looked like a hamstring issue.
The game would return to the chess match mentality as the half drew to a close, Ilkeston’s passing play started to become too predictable and Salford’s long ball game was struggling to beat the visiting back line.
Moor Lane may had seen many classic games this season but this first half was anything but.
Salford City would take advantage of a unfortunate error from Jamie Hannis. The young goalkeeper charged forward to claim the ball from a cross, however the young goalkeeper totally mistimed his punch as the ball sailed into the net from his hand.
The teenager would continue to look shaky as a couple of tame shots from Webber and Hine were awkwardly dealt with by Hannis.
Perhaps more concerning for the visitors however, was their lack of response.
All that intensity at the new meadow was gone, as The Robins were forced to make pop shots from long range.
With Salford still going for the game, the second goal almost seemed inevitable. Jordan Hulme was the scorer, after picking up the ball from a superb run from Steve O’Halloran before powering the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
Ilkeston would make a better response however, as target man Michael Williams would find some space in The Ammies third after some strong build up play from the kick off. However the shot would go straight into the palms of Dootson.
Dexter Atkinson looked to be the only player who could create a chance for the visitors, and did force a foul from O’Halloran which saw the Irishman be the first player to enter the book; after Mr Smith found his yellow card.
Salford continued to go for the jugular however, continuing to make attacking changes. It almost paid off in the 72nd minuite when a long ball saw Josh Hine one on one with the Ilkeston keeper. However, Hannis shook off the nerves that immediately followed his mistake and got down well to save.
Three minutes later would see another chance for Salford, as a cross field ball from O’Halloran was met with a superb touch fro Johnston to beat Luis Rose. The former Chorley player would cut inside, however had his low cross blocked bravely by Matt Baker.
Just when Ilkeston defence thought they had seen the majority of Salford’s attacking prowess, on came their top scorer James Poole.
Poole’s first touch however, a sliced pass in the Ilkeston third that saw a potentially dangerous Ammies move break down, seemed to sum up the game.
Ilkeston’s young goalkeeper almost made another shocking error towards the end of the game. The 17-year old surged forward to clear a trickling ball, however didn’t count on Josh Hine getting their first. The winger made an ambitious chipped effort with the goal wide open, yet the ball went just wide.
The Robins did try to secure a consolation goal in the game’s dying moment. Curtis Burrows would receive the ball in the box, however Dootson did superbly well to get down and save the ball.
Salford City (4-2-2-2): Dootson, Gumbs (Allen ‘67), O’Halloran, Stopforth, Howson, Lynch (capt.), Hulme, Clark, Hine, Seddon (Johnston ‘31), Webber (Poole ’78)
Subs not used: Dawson, Mwasile,
Booked: O’Halloran ‘63
Ilkeston (4-1-2-2-1): Hannis, Shaw, Print, Wheatley, Baker (capt.), Goddard (Rose ‘69), Burrows, Gordon (Head ’84), Udoh, Williams (Meakin ‘74), Atkinson
Subs not used: Morris, Head, Walters,
Main image by @SalfordFCPhotos/Charlotte Tattersall