Curzon Ashton 0-2 Salford City, Tameside Stadium (29/08/2016)
Competition: National League North
Admission Price: £12
Having taken in a local game at Barnton on Saturday I was keen to make the most of the Bank Holiday Monday and head off to a new ground. Evening plans meant I needed to look around the Greater Manchester area and I opted for Curzon Ashton just ahead of FC United.
The journey from Altrincham was straightforward and I made good time despite the usual bank holiday traffic, the ground is situated about 400 yards from Ashton cricket club and offered plenty of parking even with bumper crowd.
Just outside the ground is the statue of Ashton’s three World Cup heroes Sir Geoff Hurst, Jimmy Armfield and Simone Perrotta, who were all born in the area. To see any statue at non league level is rare, but for me it is a great touch and will serve as inspiration for locals.
Built in 2005 the ground and is a lovely modern ground that is certainly able to accommodate football at a higher level. The main seated stands seats just over 500 fans, it is elevated so you can get a great view of the action from the stand perfect for anyone looking to scout the next big thing in non league.
Opposite to the main stand is a covered terrace which again offers fantastic views of the action, the two ends behind the goals are uncovered. The gorgeous weather meant I didn’t have to worry about the rain and I was able to take in the action from various parts of the ground.
Curzon Ashton were founded in 1963 and are now in their second season at this level after gaining promotion from the Northern Premier league against all the odds at the end of the 2014/15 season. This is the highest ever level that the club has competed in and last season John Flanagan’s men impressed at times and eventually finished in 11th.
Flanagan has overseen the most successful period in the club’s history and his team will certainly be looking to build on last season, they produced a great performance on the road to Altrincham on Saturday eventually securing an impressive 4-2 victory.
Over the last 12 months Salford City have hit the headlines, firstly with the Class of 92 taking over the club which brought about a fly on the wall documentary series that has just started again on the BBC this week. two of the class of 92 were in attendance on Monday with Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes stood amongst the fans which for me shows they have a genuine interest in their team.
On the pitch the team have made huge strides, achieving promotion to the National League North via the play offs which coincided with their longest FA Cup run beating Notts County at home in round 1, before falling just short of the third round in a replay with Hartlepool.
Salford City maintained their unbeaten start to life in the National League North after they comfortably beat neighbours Curzon Ashton at a sun drenched Tameside Stadium.
Curzon entered the game looking to pick up their first home win of the season but were unable to impose themselves as the game wore on against an impressive Salford outfit. Curzon had the better of first half but were unable to find a way past a stubborn Salford backline, who themselves peppered the Curzon goal late on in opening period.
The second half saw Salford take control of the game and they took the lead through Jordan Hulme who tapped in after an attempt came back off the post. Salford doubled their lead through Simon Grand who got the end of an excellent cross.
Curzon pressed during the latter stages of the game but were unable to find a way past an organised and impressive Salford backline, Ryan Hall went close late on but in truth Salford were able to see out the game comfortably.
For large parts of the second half I sat behind the Salford bench and the management duo of Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley and was impressed with how the managed the game and their team produced the perfect away performance. The TV cameras are evidently only covering what makes good viewing, a solid and professional away performance sadly won’t make the cut.
Yes they have a bigger budget than normal but that doesn’t mean they will walk this league, they have impressed so far in what is the club’s debut at this level of the non league pyramid.
As for Curzon they will be disappointed not to have backed up their impressive win at Altrincham on Saturday with their first home win of the season. I fully expect Salford to be in the mix for promotion with the playoffs at least, as for Curzon they will improve on last season’s showing and under Flanagan are dark horses for the playoffs.
Match Rating: 6/10 was a dull opening, but Salford stepped up in the second half.
Man of the Match: Simon Grand, the captain led from the back on got the important second goal.