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Maidenhead United blown away by brilliant first half display from new leaders Salford City

Daniel  Darlington

Daniel Darlington and Nick Howarth

danield@baylismedia.co.uk

Maidenhead United 0, Salford City 3

Maidenhead United struggled to live with a blistering first half display from Salford City, who scored two quickfire goals to all but seal victory this afternoon.

Graham Alexander’s side marched to the top of the National League after a thoroughly convincing display against a Magpies side that looked exhausted and off the pace after wearying trips to Barrow and Chesterfield.

The visitors took the lead through an unfamiliar source in the 26th minute, right-back Scott Wiseman exchanging passes with the excellent Rory Gaffney to steer Salford in front.

The Magpies barely had time to draw breath before conceding again, when Adam Rooney looped home his ninth goal of the season from Danny Lloyd’s left-wing cross.

The home side made a muted fightback in the second half, with Salford content to shore things up for a valuable away win, but they did manage a third in the 90th minute, when substitute Devante Rodney fired home from Gaffney’s pass.

Alan Devonshire’s side looked off the pace pretty much from the outset, and Salford quickly sensed this might be their day. They should really have opened their account long before Wiseman’s cool finish midway through the half.

Gaffney chested wide from Lloyd’s cross in the 10th minute, when a header might have proved more effective, while Pentney was called into action in the 20th minute to keep out Lloyd’s curling free-kick.

Wiseman and Gaffney linked up well for the former to steer Salford into a deserved lead and, pretty much from the restart, they made it 2-0 when Rooney stretched to connect with Lloyd’s low cross and deflected the ball up over Pentney and into the net.

Devonshire responded immediately by withdrawing James Comley and Herson Alves – a double scorer in midweek against Chesterfield – in the 29th minute but, while they looked much better balanced, they struggled to breakdown a Salford defence resolutely marshalled by Nathan Pond.

Max Worsfold stung the palms of Christopher Neal in the 41st minute but that was the best the Magpies could muster before the break.

The second half was a different story, with United generally on the front foot, and Salford doing a pretty effective containment job.

Christian Smith came close with a header that was deflected narrowly wide in the 52nd minute, then, from the resulting corner, Ayo Obileye was denied by a brave block on the line. Josh Kelly was kept quiet throughout but might have changed the course of the game with a couple of moments in the second period. In the 62nd minute he raced clear from Cole’s brilliant ball but Pond got back to make a crucial interception. Then, in the 70th minute, he collected the ball from Akintunde but fired wide under pressure. Akintunde did excellently to pick out his teammate following a surging run and caused some panic in the Salford back line with his direct running.

That was the best the Magpies could muster and, with the game petering out, they were hit for a third when Gaffney, the best of Salford’s attacking options, brought down a cross and laid it off for Rodney to fire home with Pentney getting a hand to the shot but failing to keep it out.

A disappointed Devonshire said: “We were really poor. That’s the worst 45 minutes we’ve had. They’re a good side but we didn’t get close. We didn’t play with intensity and I felt we let ourselves down. We were better second half and if we’d scored 15 minutes in we might have seen a better outcome.”

Salford boss Graham Alexander reflected: “I thought the first 35 minutes we were excellent. I couldn’t see a fault in the performance. But I just felt at 2-0 we just came off it a little bit and became a little bit sloppy. That continued at the start of the second half, but you always expect a reaction from the home team. When our subs came on though I thought we shored up the game and saw the game our well.”

Maidenhead United (4-4-2) Pentney 7; Clerima 6, Obileye 6, Smith 6, Worsfold 6; Alves 5 (Cole 29’ 7), Comley 5 (Akintunde 29’ 7), Odametey 7, Upward 6 (Owusu 57’ 6); Clifton 6, Kelly 6. Subs not used: Bird, Archer.

Salford City (4-4-2): Neal 7’; Wiseman 8, Pond 9, Piergianni 7, Touray 8; Walker 8 (Hogan 73’ 7), Whitehead 7, Shelton 7, Lloyd 7 (Maynard 62’ 7); Rooney 8 (Rodney 73’ 7), Gaffney 9. Subs not used: Corcombe, Haughton.

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