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Salford City off to FA Cup flyer with Bradford beating

Salford City are now unbeaten in three games against Bradford Park Avenue as they secured their first win in four games to progress to the third round qualifying of the FA Cup.

The Ammies spent the majority of the game rueing a missed penalty in the opening 10 minutes – even as they broke The Avenue down, they were toothless in front of goal.

James Poole finally broke the deadlock for a final 1-0 score, when he curled a beautiful effort in the final quarter hour to kill off any hopes of a replay for the hosts.

Before the game started Salford had the advantage on the team sheet, as Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley named a near first-choice starting XI, with the exception of John Johnston and Bradley Barnes who made their first starts of the campaign.

Meanwhile the hosts had a number of players out ineligible, to the point where Bradford Park Avenue had to start third-choice keeper Dan Eccles.

The teenager did superbly well in the opening 10 minutes by putting off Matt Warburton to save Salford’s penalty kick.

It was probably a bit of poetic justice that the teenager did well to save and smother the rebound, as the penalty for handball did seem a little soft considering how close the defender was to the ball when Johnston whipped the cross in.

Despite their poor league form Bradford Park Avenue pressed to take an early lead and had a golden opportunity from a perfectly floated cross by Ryan Toulson.

But while target man Liam Dickinson towered over The Ammies defence the striker barely even jumped and missed the resulting header.

Character is no replacement for sheer talent, a fact Salford made perfectly clear at the Horsfall Stadium.

Park Avenue’s defence simply could not deal with The Ammies’ counter attacks.

Toulson – who spent more time as a winger than a full back – left Johnston in acres of space when the hosts lost the ball, forcing Corbin Shires out of position and invited crosses.

The Ammies also pressed the home side to death, as Park Avenue struggled to even get the ball out their own half.

Yet somehow, after all the chances, shots and gegenpress football from a Salford side back at its best, Bradford survived the opening half unscathed.

Johnno and Morley, possibly wary of Barnes picking up a second yellow card, brought on Richie Wellens, and moved Harry Worley to centre half.

The surprising tactical change came when James Poole and Mike Phenix swapped positions.

While having Phenix out wide as a target man did mean The Ammies won a lot of the first balls on the right-hand side, his reluctance to drift into the box after delivering the ball to Poole – playing in a false nine position – defeated the object of him being out there.

More often than not the latter was crossing the ball with only one Salford man in the box.

His refusal to track back as well almost cost Salford, as Emile Sinclair was allowed to go one-on-one with Lynch near the hour mark, and had the striker been a little more bullish when faced when Priestley closed him down would have opened the scoring.

Eventually though The Ammies switched Phenix and Poole back to their natural positions to devastating effect, as the latter opened the scoring with a beautiful curled low effort that beat Eccles to his far post.

Salford return to league action on Saturday when they host distant Brackley Town at Moor Lane.

Salford City (4-3-3): Lynch, Nottingham, O’Halloran, Barnes (capt) (Wellens ‘45), Worley, Priestley, King, Warburton, Phenix, Poole, Johnstone (Hine ‘90)

Booked: Barnes ‘37

Subs not used: Walker, Dootson, Burton, Hulme,

Bradford Park Avenue (4-4-2): Eccles, Toulson (capt), Davine (McKenna ‘76), Kearns, Shires, Killock, Payne (Monoghan ‘89), Wroe, Sinclair (Sharpe ‘63), Dean, Dickinson

Subs not used: Boshell, Mckenna, Coates, Ryan, McWilliams

Attendance: 427

Main image: Strong away support from Salford City – @SalfordFCPhotos/Charlotte Tattersall

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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.