On Tuesday evening I made the trip to Salford to watch their Carabao Cup tie against Leeds United.
There was a sell-out crowd at Moor Lane which included Sir Alex Ferguson , Denis Law and of course co-owners Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville.
The Ammies put up a spirited fight for the majority of the first half but fell behind just before the break, when Eddie Nketiah tapped home Helder Costa’s cross to score on his Leeds United debut.
Marco Bielsa’s men stepped it up in the second-half, with two quick-fire goals through Gaetano Berardi and Mateusz Klich sealed The Whites passage to round two, where the face Stoke City.
Despite the result, Graham Alexander and his men should be proud of their efforts, and get back to business, with the main aim of the season being to get their fifth promotion in six seasons.
Graham Alexander made four changes from their disappointing defeat away to Crawley Town on Saturday, where The Ammies were beaten 2-0. Jake Beesley, Oscar Threlkeld, Joey Jones and Danny Whitehead all came in.
Marco Bielsa rested seven of his first team but retained Kiko Casilla, Ben White, Mateusz Klich and Kalvin Phillips while handing on-loan Arsenal midfielder Eddie Nketiah his debut and Hélder Costa his first start.
The Atmosphere was electric inside The Peninsula Stadium, in what was the clubs biggest ever game to date, and the hosts were thriving from the fantastic backing home fans. Salford started very impressively and fired a couple of warnings to Leeds.
The first opportunity came on the 13th minute when a corner from the right found Richard Towell, but his goal-bound effort was headed off the line by Jack Clarke.
The hosts came even closer to taking the lead when The Ammies broke quickly on the counter-attack. Emmanuel Dieseruvwe flicked on a header onto Towell, who’s cut-back from the edge of the box found Beesley and he produced a good save out of Casilla.
The back three of Salford were defending impeccably well so far, constantly reducing the Championship side to shoot from outside the box. The only threat from the away side as of yet, looked to be coming from Kalvin Phillips as a couple efforts from range from the 23-year-old were saved by Chris Neal.
However, Marco Bielsa’s men began to grow into the game more and more and finally managed to carve open the League Two side just before the interval. Jason Shackleton sent Heldor Costa down the line with a brilliant defence splitting pass and a the on-loan Wolves man played the ball across goal for Nketiah to tap home from close-range.
Klich nearly doubled The Whites lead on the stroke of half-time with a curling effort from 25-yards, going just wide.
Half Time- Salford City 0-1 Leeds United
Leeds doubled their lead five minutes into the second-half as a corner from Costa was volleyed home at the front-post by Berardi, giving Neal absolutely no chance.
On the 55th minute it should have been three. Ezgjan Alioski burst down the left-wing before his teasing ball across goal was volleyed over by Klich.
Two great saves in quick succession from Casilla prevented Salford getting a route back into the game as he denied Daniel Whitehead on both occasions.
Leeds further extended their lead as they broke in numbers following a Salford Corner. Mateusz Klich picked up the ball in his own half before sprinting forward on his own, ignoring the screams of Nkietiah on the far-side. The midfielder reached the 18 yard box, looked up and superbly curled home into the top corner.
To Salford’s credit, they didn’t give up and kept pushing for a consolation, that they deserved, but getting by Kiko Casilla was proving the be the problem as the Spaniard was in fine form.
The closest they came to getting their goal came on the 84th minute, when a strike from Towell was parried away by Casilla, but only as far as Adam Rooney, who’s rebound bounced inches wide, with the goal gaping.
Full Time- Salford City 0-3 Leeds United
My View– This was a game that had been on my radar since the draw was made in June, however I knew tickets would be gold dust. Thankfully I managed to get in contact with a guy who works for the committee at Salford, and he managed to get me a couple of tickets. So a personal thanks to him.
The game was brilliant, one of my favourites I’ve been to actually. I know the Carabao Cup isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the cup competitions, especially England as they throw up some cracking uniques ties like Salford V Leeds.
Salford are a decent outfit and I fully expect them to challenge for League Two promotion this season. They gave Leeds a good run for their money, and were very unfortunate not to grab a goal.
The atmosphere was brilliant, with the stadium sold out. Both sets of fans were constantly hurling abuse at each other and singing their songs, and being in the middle of it was a good laugh.
I look forward to getting to Elland Road sooner rather than later.
Salford City XI
Neal, Jones, Pond, Piergianni, Threlkeld(62), Towell, Maynard, Whitehead, Touray, Dieseruvwe(69), Beesley(69)
Subs- Letheren Wiseman, Smith, Jones, Lloyd, Gaffney(62), Rooney(69)
Leeds United XI
Casilla, Berardi, White, Davis, Alioski(78), Philips, Shackleton, Klich, Costa, Clarke(70), Nketiah(78)
Subs- Miazek, Bogusz, Gotts, McCalmont(70), Harrison(78), Dallas, Bamford(78)
Referee- Keith Stroud
Assistants- Nick Greenhalgh & James Mainwaring
Fourth official- Darren Handley
Goals- Nketiah(43), Berardi(50), Klich(58)
Yellow Cards- Klich(87), Jones(90)
Red Cards- 0