Salford City’s 2-0 win over Ilkeston on Saturday sees them in third place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier as the business end of the season gets underway.
So what are the top five things we learned?
Moor Lane is starting to look like a fortress
Salford City had a tough time at home at the start of the season; their home record is still reeling from non winning their first five league games at home.
Nonetheless The Ammies have more than recovered thanks to only losing on in their last five games at home. one could even argue that Salford should have lost none if some referee decisions went their way against Darlington.
Salford’s championship win last year was formed on the basis on their home form, and with the pressure cooker of the play offs beckoning; Salford may be hitting home form at the right time.
‘You don’t win anything with kids’
These are the words that haunted Alan Hansen’s career after Manchester United were defeated by Aston Villa in 1995, and although The Red Devils went on to win the Premier League that season, non league football is a totally different ball game.
Look at the difference in the goalkeepers.
Ilkeston fielded 17-year-old Jamie Hannis, who although performed admirably in the reverse fixture struggled majorly at Moor Lane today.
Meanwhile, Craig Dootson kept a clean sheet and made a couple of major saves to keep Ilkeston from scoring.
That was reflected in almost every position; Chris Lynch had a solid game when tested in comparison to a nervous Matt Baker, and Danny Webber was a major influence in comparison to Daniel Udoh who struggled to create any clear cut chances for himself.
The Ammies win bad games
Moor Lane has played host to some quality games this year; even though it ended in defeat the Darlington game a couple weeks back was a superb encounter between two teams hungry for promotion; this game was anything but.
It was rather a war of attrition with both teams struggling to break out of the midfield, but Salford won.
This is starting to become a positive trend for Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s men.
Marine on Tuesday was a game that saw very few shots between the two teams; but Salford won.
When Buxton came to Moor Lane four weeks ago they came with a siege mentality thinking ‘must not lose’ but they did.
If Salford do go to the playoffs this season then this element of their team will be a major string in their bow should the team they face look for penalties from the first minuite.
Direct football isn’t really working
This wasn’t a perfect performance from The Ammies, and the recent switch to direct football has much to answer for.
When you have a quality target man such as Gareth Seddon it makes sense to hoof it up to him, however he was on the pitch for only one third of the game, and it doesn’t work as well with Danny Webber who creates chances through dribbling.
It’s such a shame to see The Ammies play long balls when they have quality players who pass the ball well; it limits the likes of John Johnston who resorts to finding knockdowns and second balls despite having the ability to influence a game from the wing, and also limits chances when Salford come across a deep defence such as today.
I’m not saying go the other way and adopt a Dave Pace philosophy of attack at all costs. However, it would be nice to see Salford express themselves a little more.
Fans shouldn’t play 5-a-side pitchside
This isn’t a point you mention after a Premier League game is it? But twice at Moor Lane a second ball went on the pitch thanks to fans playing their own game pitchside.
I get it, the game is a bit boring, but what’s the point in going if you’re not going to watch it?
The situation almost saw one fan fall over the fence onto the pitch when play was in that third of the pitch.
Whilst to many it may just be a friendly kick about it could have been a major distraction had a player got confused and mistook the invading ball for the one in play.
Fortunately, on both occasions saw the players take matters into their own hands and clear the ball off the pitch, but if that didn’t happen and we were talking about a different result then I doubt many fans would have been too pleased about the other game that took place at Moor Lane.
Main image by @SalfordFCPhotos/Charlotte Tattersall