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FM17 - Out of His League

Young manager Chance Morrison meets the Class of '92
Started on 13 January 2018 by tenthreeleader
Latest Reply on 27 June 2018 by ScottT
Bern and Johnno. Johnno and Bern. They were inseparable.

Best mates, they had done a good job getting Salford promoted in successive years. And now that Johnno was no longer part of the team at Salford, that didn’t mean he wasn’t still around.

Chance’s roles had reversed with the former squaddie. No doubt about it – Johnno was a very tough bloke. When he was with Bernard, they were even tougher. But now, the boots were on the other feet.

That was a secret to their success. They could make any discussion with a player a two-against-one argument because they always communicated, they always spoke to each other and after a time they could almost represent each other. It was uncanny.

However, there was one thing missing from their two-man touchline act. In most situations where two people have equal authority, one would play good cop and the other would play bad cop, as it were.

In this relationship there were usually no good cops. Only bad ones.

That was great if you wanted discipline in a squad, but if you wanted to lose a room, all you needed to do was hammer away at your players long enough and it was virtually guaranteed.

That was what had nearly happened midway through the prior season. During a mid-season run of poor form, the players would be rollicked by both managers for every poor performance, and finally, the team lost its cohesion. The managers had to dial back their pressure and when they did, the team started to perform.

Chance was sat at his desk when Gary Neville poked his head in. “How you gettin’ along, Chance?” he asked, entering and having a seat opposite from the field boss.

“Early doors, yeah?” Chance smiled, not knowing the team’s most visible owner was even on the grounds. “But I think it’s all right.”

“I think you’ll get it soon enough,” the Sky Sports pundit said. “How’s your interaction with the players?”

“They know me, and that’s good,” Chance replied. “I think they also like the idea of not having their bollocks roasted when they miss a pass in training.”

Johnno had famously boasted about the size of his during one of those late-season collapses the season prior. Nobody was going to outwork or out-passion him, that was for certain. Yet most people don’t make scrotal endowment a topic for casual conversation, and it simply showed the man’s volatility that Johnno had tried.

But there had to be a different arrangement in the coaching team. You can’t just scream at players and expect it to work over the long term. It’s great for a short spurt when a team needs a kick up the backside, such as in 2014-15 when Phil Power had the team going nowhere after a brilliant start.

However, in the lower leagues, and especially with players on either part-time or non-contract arrangements, the club did have a lot of leverage. Phil Neville had once called it the “ruthless end” of football. If the players don’t do enough to get in the team, they don’t get paid, or they get released.

But the middle ground was where the owners wanted to be. “Motivate positively and negatively,” Gary said. “Sir Alex did that and everyone knows about the negative part, but he could make you want to go out and run through a wall for him and he didn’t do that by telling you that you were s**t all the time.”

Chance nodded. “We need a stronger personality in the room and that needs to go for all the team’s moods,” the co-owner continued. “Bernard’s wonderful for when you need to roast them but the first time you do it, you’ll grab their attention in a way he and Johnno couldn’t.”

For his part, Chance wasn’t going to restrict Johnno’s time around his friend – he couldn’t – but he wasn’t the boss anymore and that was something Chance had to control. He was a good bloke off the pitch but on it, he knew how to wear out his welcome.

Johnno had been best man at Morley’s wedding over the summer and understandably so. But the former manager’s personality had been so strong, so severe, that he had to be given a short leash. In one incident in the television series done on the club, he stood in the middle of the room and demanded instant obedience to his direction from his players. “Do it immediately, or f**k off,” he said.

He was better to staff, and he was better to Chance, but the sting of his words could hurt nearly anyone below board level. When it was time to tell Chance he was done, they both did it. Two against one.

So when he went to the papers sounding like he was telling the owners their business, they had the opportunity to make a clean start. Chance wasn’t sorry to see him go from a professional standpoint.

That seemed a bit odd for a team that had earned successive promotions, but the Class of ’92 was nothing if not a group of hard-workers and, when the occasion merited, swashbucklers. That was what they felt Salford needed – someone who could relate to players but vary his mood to get the best out of them.

And that was why Chance was sat across from Gary Neville instead of someone else.

# # #
Chance was well pleased.

Josh Hine had scored only two minutes into the team’s only home friendly, against Conference National side Lincoln City.

The breakthrough had been incisive, Hine’s finish clinical. The team seemed to be adapting fairly well to 4-3-1-2 and scoring so quickly against higher level opposition only proved it.

The Salford fans had turned out in their hundreds for the match, with a strong away contingent cheering for the visitors, and the chants of “Go on, Salford!” rang around the grand old ground a bit earlier than expected.

Stung, Lincoln quickly climbed back into the match. Yvan Wassi made the only mistake of his day in the 32nd minute and it turned out to be a big one, as the fullback didn’t stay with the back line on a Lincoln counter, playing both Adam Marriott and Matt Rhead onside about thirty yards from goal. Simon Grand was hung out to dry, with Marriott feeding Rhead for a tap-in goal that restored some order to the scoreline.

Chance faced a decision at half. He could shout, as Morley and Johnno probably would have done last season, or he could show the ‘new broom’.

He chose to be different. “Well done,” he said. “Let’s stay with each other at the back – and we will work on that because we can’t have it happening – but you’ve done very well against a team a league up. Now go out and get something for yourselves in the second half.”

The second half was more tactical, in its way. Salford dominated possession, but used it like you might expect a young and jelling team to use its possession, which is to say in a ragged fashion. The through balls mounted and so did the interceptions, as the home team gave away possession far too easily.

That is, until 68 minutes, when Hine made a great play just as Chance was about to substitute him. He won the ball on the touchline in the attacking third, worked around two defenders and laid off for David Norris. The least-fancied member of the first-choice midfield produced a strike that could only be called sublime, a twenty-five yard rising rocket that found the top left corner of Rob Watson’s goal. It was fit to win any football match, and it won this one.

One reason Norris’ goal was the match winner was because of the inspired play of trialist Rich Dearle in goals. Invited by Horne for two weeks’ trial, the ex-Nottingham Forest trainee made three dazzling saves in the last five minutes to secure his team’s win, including hacking a goal-bound effort off the line with the ball behind his body in the first minute of added time.

Not bad at all.

Salford City 2 (Josh Hine 2, David Norris 68)
Lincoln City 1 (Matt Rhead 32)
H/T: 1-1
A – 538 (101 away)
Man of the Match: David Norris, Salford City (MR 8.3)

“That kind of play is going to win you matches,” Chance crowed. “I don’t give a toss if it’s a friendly, that were a belting match you just played.”

The players looked at their new boss with muted enthusiasm. They seemed pleased but there seemed to be something better in them that wouldn’t allow them to celebrate. Eventually, Chance dialed his joy down a bit, and sent them home.

“Lesson learnt,” Morley smiled. “You didn’t yell at them at half but you gave them big ups at the end and they didn’t like that.”

Chance reacted defensively. “I’ll praise them when they deserve it,” he said.

“I know you will,” Morley replied. “Just don’t be surprised if sometimes that’s the reaction you get.”

# # #
Chance would spend evenings playing around with a wipeboard with a football pitch superimposed, thinking about tactics and how he would play his team when the matches started for real.

It was a great way for him to get away from it all. He wasn’t a movie fan, he didn’t like to listen to live music, and when there was nothing on telly he was only too happy to take up his dry erase marker and think up all manner of teams in all manner of alignments.

“You need to get out more,” Morley advised when he saw Chance’s wipeboard one day at training. He liked to use purple marker for whatever reason, and so many names had been written and erased on his previously white board that it had nearly turned lavender. He carried it with him most everywhere he went.

“I’m happy how I am,” Chance countered. “But married life agrees with you.”

Morley was a newlywed, one reason he hadn’t gone with Johnno when the owners made the change. He loved football almost as much as life – he might even say more – and the sure thing of an assistant’s income was what he needed while starting his family.

He still talked with his old mate, which was a bit of a worry to Chance at times, but it didn’t appear as though undermining the new boss was part of anyone’s plan. The Nevilles had seen a managerial job go down in flames at Valencia, and they understood a manager’s need to have someone watching his back.

“Aye, that it does,” Morley smiled. Like Johnno, he could be a good bloke when he was on the right subject, and his family was definitely that right subject.

Chance admired that feature in his assistant, but for the time being at least, he was happy alone. He wanted to go back to school sometime, both to improve his coaching badges as well as to complete his formal education, and he didn’t want to have to worry about women while he was at that stage of his life.

Not that they had come calling anyway. At the level where Chance played his football, there weren’t exactly a lot of groupies. There weren’t exactly a lot of fans, and that’s what you generally need to have groupies in the first place.

So yes, he was pleased to be where he was. He also needed to work an extra job – his roofing – to avoid needing a flatmate. With the hours he kept, he’d drive a flatmate crazy because after work was the only time to watch video.

His hours were long. An average day would start at 6am and end at midnight if he was lucky. He didn’t have time for women.

All he had time for was his football and whatever else his life required.

# # #
Charlie Albinson was the next new face in training. Rich Dearle wasn’t best pleased, but then the idea was to put out the best team possible and Salford needed to find strength in goal.

The former Man City trainee had been released by the Citizens and had been only too happy to stay near the city proper, signing for £15,000 for one season.

That meant that to sign Skapetis, if he worked out, Chance would have to break the wage bank. There were players on the transfer list – but there were no offers. The manager knew the payroll was too high for a club at this level, even with moneybags owners, and it made his job harder as the friendlies rolled on.

Albinson showed his gratitude by agreeing to play the second half at Ruthin Town the day after his arrival at the club – and promptly endeared himself to the fans by getting caught off his line in the 51st minute and gifting Rob Morgan a lobbed goal that his team’s play hardly deserved.

The majority of the match was played by Chance’s squad players, who needed to play their way into match shape, and who certainly looked like they needed to play their way into match shape. They were not very good, but still dominated the match in terms of chances and possession.

After that, the very small club held the small club at bay for a galling loss, even if it was a friendly.

Ruthin Town 1 (Rob Morgan 51)
Salford Town 0
H/T: 0-0
A – 127 (41 away), Memorial Playing Fields, Ruthin
Man of the Match – Rob Morgan, Ruthin Town (MR 8.2)

And that meant Chance had a decision to make.

The team entered the changing room and sat for the post-match team talk. Morley was interested in how Chance would behave, too.

He wasted no time. “You know, I’m a nice man,” he said, “but I will be buggered with a pitchfork if I’ll stand for that sort of sh**e one minute longer.”

The players looked at Chance in disbelief. Red-faced, he lit into his team.

“I ought to let Bernard do this but you lot need to hear it from me,” he said. “I don’t give a hang if that’s a friendly you just played, there’s no f***ing way we should lose to that mob. And if I see performances like those again, people are going to reserves or worse.”

Morley was smiling, knowing that the “good cop” had been caught out. Chance caught him instead.

Chance shot him a glare that would have peeled paint off the changing room walls if they hadn’t been made of cinderblock. “We’ve just lost a bloody football match,” he yelled in the direction of his assistant, though everyone knew who he was talking to. “Maybe we think that’s funny? Maybe we bloody don’t.”

There was complete silence in the Salford rooms. Morley had wanted to see how Chance would react, and he knew the rollicking wasn’t meant entirely for him, but he had unintentionally committed a cardinal sin – smiling after a match lost.

“Get showered,” Chance said to his players, waving his hand in dismissal. George Green tried to clap.

“Belt it,” Chance snapped. “We were rank rotten.” The clapping stopped.

Morley followed Chance into the visiting manager’s office.

“That is what my hammer feels like,” the manager said, wheeling to face his number two. “Even though I know why you were smiling, don’t laugh after we’ve lost – ever again.”

Morley looked back at Chance. This time, he was not smiling.

# # #
Talk about dropping the hammer! :O
Chance is still trying to figure out who he is. This may be a good thing. It may not.

It was a bit awkward at training the next Tuesday. Chance had really laid down a marker both for his team as well as for his staff.

He had reviewed some rather poor quality video of the Ruthin Town match. Since the match had been so poor, it was only fitting that the video matched it. When he was done, he watched it again. And then, again.

It didn’t look any better the third time than it had the second, so Chance showed up at the next training session with a choice to make.

He chose to get back to business. “We’re bloody lucky that match didn’t count for anything,” he announced. “Because if it had, you lot would be running sprints until you puked.”

He showed some video and then let the players get back to work. “We won’t sit here and think about this because it’s a complete s**t show,” he said. “Instead we will learn from it. Today we’re going to work on second balls in drills because none of you really seemed acquainted with one last weekend.”

If there was one thing Chance couldn’t have been accused of when he played, it was being timid. He had a reputation as a hard-nosed player even in the lower leagues, who used graft and hard work to make up for the fact that natural talent had largely passed him by.

But what he had seen in the video was a timid team. That would never do at this level, where often the old adage of “who wants it more” is what separates wins from draws and draws from defeats.

His team hadn’t worked hard, and it had lost. That wasn’t acceptable.

“Again,” he called after he hadn’t liked what he had seen in the second ball drill. “If you lot aren’t willing to get stuck in, I’ll find people who are.”

“Again,” he called, after the repeat was less than he had expected.

Finally, after a third try, and after an hour of hard workout, he called the squad to the center circle.

“We’re done for the evening,” he said. “I know you’re a proud bunch and I get that, but if you’re proud, you’ll think about what happened and about how you played last weekend and tonight. There has to be better in there someplace because I’m sure not seeing it now. Get showered and go home.”

# # #
Sometimes the manager has to become the drill sergeant to get the best out of his players, Chance is making sure his playing staff doesn't let him down! When the trophies come, he'll be thanked for his hard love.

I predict much success to come Chance's way. I can see it now. Players and staff parading the football pitch with their silverware. Fans dancing on rooftops. Chris Kamara & Co. in utter disbelief as to how sensational a manager Chance has become. And of course, this being his new chant:

I appreciate your confidence :D

He had been hard on them, but Chance was also being hard on himself.

A leader leads, he thought, and he hadn’t found a way to motivate his players. Yes, it was only a friendly and yes, some of the players were switched off but whose job was it to switch them on? You could argue that it was the player’s task, but in the end, the boss has to be the one in charge. He felt he wasn’t that person.

Gary Neville had called him after the friendly and reminded him that players have to learn a new manager just like a manager has to learn new players. “Remember why we hired you,” he heard through his earpiece. “Because you wouldn’t react like you’re doing now.”

Chance shook his head at that, remembering that he was there because his personality was different from the last peoples’, and calmed down a bit.

Four days later, the team played its final friendly against Buckley Town at Globe Way, and it was another match his men were expected to have little trouble winning. It was a chance for the team to rebound from a setback and more importantly it was a chance for Chance to be Chance.

The team played little better than it had against Ruthin, but at least it held possession better and made the attempt to appear dangerous in front of goal. This time they weren’t bad, they were simply wasteful.

Some of that was to be expected – truly polished players wouldn’t be in this league – but like a lot of games at this level, someone needed to grab it by the scruff of the neck.

That someone turned out to be Green, who took Sam Walker’s through ball and lashed home from fifteen yards past Danny Leek in first half added time. That put Salford ahead and given the way Buckley appeared inable to string three passes together, the lead looked fairly safe.

Unfortunately, just before Green’s goal, Hine was upended going after a cross and landed hard on his shoulder, his neck bending at an awkward angle. He rolled to a sitting position, tried to get up, found that wasn’t an especially good idea, and sat back down. He was stretchered off with his neck in a brace.

He insisted on giving a thumbs-up gesture to the (small) crowd as he was leaving, though, and the physios said the brace was simply a precaution.

“He can move everything just fine,” Chance was told. “We’ll get him a scan and see what’s happened in there. Any road, it’s not likely to be anything major.”

That was welcome news, but it surely meant time on the training table instead of time in the XI, and that meant allowances had to be made.

Buckley didn’t come near the Salford goal in the second half so instead of fuming because his boys had scraped a one-nil win over inferior opposition, he chose to stay positive.

“No goals conceded will get us some points,” he said with a smile as the team sat for the post-match team talk. “More of that, please. But we’re out of friendlies – so the next time you do this, it’ll matter a lot more. Shower off and enjoy your evenings.”

This time, he let the players clap. There was a good reason for that.

Buckley Town 0
Salford City 1 (Green 45+1)
H/T: 0-1
A – 113 (41 away), Globe Way, Buckley
Man of the Match – George Green, Salford City (MR 8.3)
# # #
Much more positive result, and a very high percentage of that attendance was your crowd too! Goals win you games, but clean sheets win you titles!
The thing that gets me is that the back line of this team has some real deficiencies. More money would help but for now I think keeping clean sheets will be a real challenge.

There wasn’t a lot he could do.

The work had been done, and for a part-time team, the players were in as good a match condition as Chance could put them in. The rest, they’d have to do on their own time.

So he spent the week before the opening league match against Gloucester thinking about how he could squeeze a bit more out of the team and out of himself as well.

Morley had apologized for his laughing after the Ruthin match and Chance had forgiven him. “How would you have reacted if I had been laughing after that gong show?” he had asked, and Morley had no option but to be honest.

“I’d have climbed the bloody walls,” he admitted.

Chance would have liked to think he had heard the last of that issue, but there was something about his relationship with Morley that unnerved him. Maybe it was because Morley had won something in the game and Chance hadn’t, even if was a seventh-tier league championship.

Maybe it was he was strong and aggressive in his manner and Chance was not.
Maybe it was because when Chance had swung his hammer, Morley had been embarrassed but little else. When Morley had swung his hammer, Chance had gone flying straight out of the club.

He didn’t seem to be a bad guy. But he represented a link to the past and that seemed odd, with his friend Johnno gone from the club. They had always been a two-man team and something didn’t seem quite right.

Yet, it was a funny old game, football. Things happen, or they don’t. It’s a cruel game, too. Friendships are made, broken, and remade in days. For now, though, something had happened and Chance didn’t have time to think about it. He did have to think about his team, as the matchup with Gloucester City and the opening of the season neared.

Salford City v Gloucester City – Vanarama Conference North Match Day #1
Moor Lane, Salford – Referee Stephen Smith

The crowd was surprisingly good, and all five members of the Class of ’92 were present in their accustomed position along the railing at one end of the ground.
As players arrived for the match, they were greeted by the owners, which seemed like a quaint thing until you remembered who they were. Professionals themselves seemed pleased by the gesture.

As it turned out, they were waiting for Chance, who arrived at the appointed moment and spoke with his employers.

“We’re ready,” he announced. “As ready as we will ever be.”

“Relax,” Scholes said, which for him was a major speech.

Morley entered the conversation, and you’d never have guessed that the bosses had let his best mate go the preceding spring.

“Bernard, big day for you,” Phil Neville began. The assistant manager simply smiled through thin lips.

“It’s time to do what’s necessary,” he said. That could have been taken in a number of ways, but for now it was a team thing to say and that was enough.

Hine had damaged his neck in the Buckley Town friendly and didn’t pass a fitness test. That was a blow but in the “next man up” mentality so popular in the game today, that meant a chance for Phenix, who didn’t want to waste it.

The team took the pitch to a stand just over half full on opening day. That said, the stand was significantly larger than it had been three years ago, so that news wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

The local flair attached to the club had attracted a number of curiosity-seekers as well as the long-time fans, which was one thing the owners wanted. Now, to show those new faces what was in display was something else again.

Chance watched nervously as the match kicked off. It turned out that he needn’t have worried. Green slipped his marker, found space at the top of the penalty area and drove a low shot home only twelve minutes into the match.

By the time the crowd had finished celebrating and the chants of “Go on, Salford” rang through the stand, Phenix had doubled Salford’s advantage. Eight minutes later, Green trebled it, scoring on a delicious and very well struck half volley to put the home team three goals up within the first twenty-two minutes.

After that, the team seemed to switch off and that was too bad. Gloucester was there to be routed and seemed to be awaiting the executioner’s axe, yet the Salford players stubbornly refused to wield it.

Still, three goals to nil is three goals to nil, and there’s no debating that. Chance told the players to be sure they stayed switched on for the second half and was only mildly surprised to see them completely disregard his comments for the vast majority of the second half.

Morley was quiet and patient, reminding Chance not to “get brassed off” about the team’s pedestrian attitude in the second half.

Six minutes from time, though, all four of the back line switched off at the same time and Luke Hopper ruined the team’s clean sheet.

That got Chance up like a jack-in-the-box, hotly pursued by Morley, who forgot for the moment that he was no longer the manager.

“What the bloody hell did I tell you lot?” Chance screeched. The veins in his neck bulged like cordwood as the mild-mannered manager grew quite red in the face indeed.

This time, the team listened to him. They scored not once but twice before the match was over, with Sam Walker and Simon Grand, two rather unlikely goalscorers, getting into the act.

That mollified the manager, who had to remember that a four-goal win on opening day was pretty good work indeed.

Salford City 5 (Green 12, 22; Phenix 14, Walker 86, Grand 90)
Gloucester City 1 (Luke Hopper 84)
H/T: 3-0
A – 1,237 (23 away)
Man of the Match: George Green, Salford City (MR 9.6)

# # #
Certainly can't complain about the result this time around! Great goalscoring form, to overshadow the goal conceded!
Chance is unofficially described as "pleased". :D

“See what happens when you relax?”

If Scholes had made a major speech with a single word before the match, he had made one six times bigger after it. The mood was very good in the car park as the owners had a quick word with the manager after the season-opening romp.

“Can’t argue. Won’t argue,” Chance said, meaning his words in more ways than one. “We were pretty good today.”

They all made small talk after that. There was very little to discuss, frankly. The lads had been quite brilliant and everyone knew it.

That wasn’t to say there wasn’t pressure. Of course there was, and with the Class of ’92 there to turn the screws plus a billionaire waiting in the wings, Chance was acutely aware of that.

Yet this had been his boyhood club, while the five men around him were all at another, much bigger, footballing enterprise.

He had that much going for him.

The conclave broke up and Chance headed to his car to start for home. A group of women passed him heading in the opposite direction and one of them caught the manager’s eye.

She was tall, slender, and blond, with hair worn short to the nape of her neck and a figure to die for.

And bedroom eyes like Chance had never seen before. He had to smile. They were blue and most appealingly large. They gave her face something of a cherubic appearance, which Chance found most captivating.

“Bang tidy,” he thought to himself, until he saw the woman was smiling back at him. He nodded and got into his car.

“Go on, Salford!” she yelled, holding her scarf over her head as she did. Chance had never seen her at the ground before, but evidently she knew one of the cheers. So far, so good.

He drove to one of his haunts, the Duke of York on Marlborough Road. It was only two miles from the stadium so he didn’t have a lot of time to compose himself.

A wag would have noted that Chance wasn’t even in Salford – more properly, he was in Cheetham Hill and less than five miles from Old Trafford – but he was at a place he liked.

He entered as he always did and found a table in one corner of the old gothic style building as he always did. A waitress approached as he sat.

“Now then, Mr. Morrison,” she said with a smile. “Diamond?”

“Aye,” Chance answered, reaching into his laptop bag to pull out a tablet. “That’ll be grand.”

Soon she returned. As the waitress placed a rather lovely looking Holt Diamond Extra Cold Lager beside the tablet, he began to watch the match for a second time.
Green looked almost as good on video as he had looked in person.

“Player, that lad,” Chance mumbled to himself, taking a pull from a fine pint of lager.

Then it was Phenix looking good, and then Green again. All his matches weren’t going to be this easy, but for now, life was good.

Then the ladies from the ground entered and with Chance having his nose buried in his tablet screen, he failed to notice.

They were ships passing in the night.

# # #
Are the women a euphemism for tactical ideas? :P
I've only been here a little while and already you know me too well. :D

Stalybridge Celtic (1-0-1, 10th place) v Salford City (1-0-0, 6th place)
Vanarama Conference North Match Day #2 - Bower Fold, Stalybridge
Referee Paul Rees

With a week between the first two matches, Salford’s good start was only good for sixth place once the second match rolled around. FC United had played three matches and won them all, so Chance’s men found themselves six points adrift after only seven days of the season, through absolutely no fault of their own.

He had put in three good days’ roofing work that week, training with the team on the other two days and resting from his exertions. He was fortunate in that he could work more or less when he wanted to in the high summer. In the winter, it would be more difficult.

He saved his money carefully, which didn’t exactly befit his personality, but he knew it would be necessary to get him through the winter months when other work was hard to find.

Of course, if he was successful in his football job, the possibility of a full-time position wasn’t the worst thing to consider if he could get Salford up another league.

For now, though, he had a trip to Stalybridge and Bower Fold to be concerned with. It wasn’t exactly a long trip – under fifteen miles by coach, so the team gathered the morning of the match for the leisurely ride east.

All three of the team’s first matches would be played in or near Salford, which was great from a travel standpoint. His players got off the coach ready to get stuck in.
Yet once the match started, they didn’t stick to much.

They had started cautiously, and that certainly kept the ball out of their goal, but there wasn’t nearly as much inventiveness going forward as there had been the previous week.

Possession was largely there for Salford but application was not. Stalybridge had more attempts for the match and often better attempts for the match, but Albinson was equal to the task.

The match needed a bit of magic and there didn’t seem to be a place to find it.

That is, until David Norris stepped into the breach. The 35-year old midfielder, who had played at Championship level for ten years with Plymouth, Ipswich, Portsmouth and Leeds, grabbed the whole game by the scruff of the neck. He smashed home a first-time volley from twenty yards and home eleven minutes from time to finally get Salford into the lead.

They made it stand up. The first away win of the season was in the bank and less than ninety minutes after the end of the match, the team was back home and ready to start its evening.

Stalybridge Celtic 0
Salford City 1 (Norris 79)
H/T: 0-0
A – 803 (159 away), Bower Fold, Stalybridge
Man of the Match: David Norris, Salford City (MR 8.2)

# # #
Good win, I'm enjoying the development of Chance. He's got quite a few divisions to discover what kind of manager he is.

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