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Watch: Draw can’t halt buzz as Salford City start life in National League North

Salford opened their first ever campaign in the National League North with a 1-1 draw against Gloucester City.

A goal from James Pool was cancelled out by a world-class effort by Tigers substitute Joe Parker in a game that saw the visitors contain and frustrate Salford into a draw.

The Ammies looked far better on the ball this season though, courtesy of their new pitch that resembled more carpet that turf.

© Charlotte Tattersall/@SalfordFCPhotos

© Charlotte Tattersall/@SalfordFCPhotos

Both teams exchanged possessions and half chances in the opening 20 minutes, however Salford’s expansive 4-2-4 that more often that not overloaded defences in the Evo-Stik Premier was cancelled out by Gloucester’s box-like 4-2-2-2.

Central strikers Richie Allen and James Poole found dealing with the defensive box particularly frustrating, with both finding themselves double marked out the game by a defensive midfielder and centre half each.

That being said, Salford controlled the game in its opening phase, with Gloucester’s chances being restricted to counter attacks and long balls due to their deep defence.

Central defender Jack Deaman particularly impressed for the visitors.

The physical centre-half made life very difficult for Richie Allen, with one particular challenge on Allen in the 23rd minute stopping the forward getting through to a one-on-one with keeper Jasbir Singh.

The result was an Ammies side restricted to long shots and half chances.

© Charlotte Tattersall/@SalfordFCPhotos

© Charlotte Tattersall/@SalfordFCPhotos

The final 15 minutes saw Singh tested for the first time, with four shots in approximately 60 seconds, first Phenix struck a powerful low shot that was well parried; then Poole attempted from wide left but had his shot deflected for a corner, whipped in by Billy Priestley; Singh would then push the ball out.

Two headers came in from Priestley and Warburton, the first was saved then spilled by Singh, the second was superbly saved in a style reminiscent to Jerzy Dudek at the 2005 Champions League final in what was the closest either team came to scoring during the first half.

While the first half started with a fizzle, the second was with a bang.

Salford almost took the lead within the opening 30 seconds, Phenix broke through down the right wing before finding Poole in the box.

James Poole's goal against Gloucester City

WATCH | James Poole scored our first goal of the new season five minutes into the second half! ⚽️

Posted by Salford City FC on Saturday, August 6, 2016

The striker looked one on one and dropped the shoulder, but another superb sliding challenge by Deaman stopped another clear cut chance for The Ammies.

It was a sign of things to come however, and Salford would finally get their first goal of the new campaign five minutes later.

Allen drifted out wide to pull Spencer Hamilton out of position, it left Poole in acres of space in the box; space that can rarely be afforded by a defence that was duly punished with a shot that was impossible for Singh to stop.

The floodgates started to open for Salford after the goal, with two chances soon after almost doubling the lead.

First a counter-attack from a Gloucester corner lead by Craig King, the midfielder took too much time on the ball though whilst Phenix was in space, however launched a cross come shot that despite being caught by Singh was also dragged into the net by the goalkeeper; the second, a half volley from just outside the box by Poole, clipped the crossbar.

© Charlotte Tattersall/@SalfordFCPhotos

© Charlotte Tattersall/@SalfordFCPhotos

In response, Tim Harris abandoned Operation Frustrate for the visitors and brought on Joe Parker; switching formations to a 4-3-3 with three central strikers.

It provided an instant result, Parker picked up the ball from the middle of the pitch and went on an electrifying run that wouldn’t have been out of place in Olympic sprinting; finding himself one on one with Jay Lynch.

The 21-year old showed his class by taking it around the keeper before slotting the finish; a stunner in every sense of the word.

An injury to Leroy Oliero forced the visitors to bring on Lewis Hall, with the latter being a more attacking full back it forced the visitors into pushing forward to find a winner.

After a close effort for Hulme though, the visitors returned to their box midfielder with defensive midfielder Calvin Dinsley replacing striker Craig Reid.

It couldn’t stop the most dangerous set piece of the game though, with Hulme hitting a powerful header that forced Singh into another superb diving save.

Salford City are back in action next Saturday when they travel to the opposite side of Greater Manchester to face Stalybridge Celtic, after their Tuesday night game against AFC Fylde was rearranged to the 23rd at the request of the Lancashire club.

Salford City (4-2-4): Lynch, Nottingham, O’Halloran, Burton, Grand (capt.), Priestley, King, Warburton, Phenix (Hulme ‘73), Poole, Allen (Walker ‘78)

Gloucester City (4-2-2-2): Singh, Thomas, Odiero (Hall ‘81), Hamilton, Deman, Knowles, Hanks, Webb (capt.), Reid (Dinsley ‘84), Hopper, Williams (Parker ‘52)

Referee: Mr. David McNamara (Lancashire)

Main image: Charlotte Tattersall/@SalfordFCPhotos

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Oliver is an aspiring young journalist currently studying at Salford University. He covers non league football and local politics for multiple outlets.