An impressive County performance was enough to earn The Hatters their first pre-season win, with Alex Reid grabbing a late winner in a 1-0 win over Salford City at Edgeley Park on Tuesday afternoon.
With the game heading for a draw, Reid hooked home first first Hatters goal from a Sam Walker corner with less than ten minutes left on the clock to hand Jim Gannon’s side a much-deserved win over League Two opposition.
County lined up on a wet and windy Edgeley Park afternoon showing two changes to the eleven which started in the 2-0 defeat to Rochdale on Saturday.
Lois Maynard started in midfield against his former side, whilst striker Richie Bennett reunited with his former Northwich and Barrow strike partner Jordan Williams in attack for the hosts.
Former Hatter Danny Lloyd started in attack for The Ammies, and despite Lloyd himself curling an effort wide of the upright midway through the half, County enjoyed the majority of proceedings in the first half.
Jordan Williams, looking lively on the left, crossed early on for James Jennings to see a deflected effort tipped behind, whilst Bennett teed up Connor Jennings to prod an effort goalwards soon after which Salford ‘stopper Vac Hladky saved well with his legs.
County enjoyed a spell of possession as the half drew to a close, forcing a number of corners – whilst Williams headed narrowly over the bar with the last action of the half.
HALF-TIME: County 0-0 Salford
County boss Jim Gannon opted for six changes to start the second half, with a trialist goalkeeper, Mark Kitching, Jordan Keane, Harvey Gilmour, Alex Reid and Nyal Bell all entering the fray for the resumption.
It was Lloyd again threatening for Salford at the start of the second half, teeing up Bruno Andrade for a clever effort well saved by the Hatters ‘keeper.
Adam Thomas almost found County’s first goal of pre-season when he fizzed a cross-shot into the box, which the Salford ‘keeper did well to palm away before the Ammies defence scrambled clear.
That was to be Thomas’ last action on the hour mark, as he, John Rooney and former Salford skipper Liam Hogan we’re replaced by Sam Walker, Paul Turnbull and a trialist midfielder.
Darren Stephenson continued his comeback trail from injury by replacing Jamie Stott shortly after, whilst Jordan Downing slotted in at the back in place of Ash Palmer.
The home side continued to threaten, with Stephenson the instigator for County as The Hatters forced a corner with twenty minutes to go – a corner which Turnbull curled into the box, where Nyal Bell saw his back post header hacked off the goalline.
County’s trialist goalkeeper made a good save on a greasy surface as Bruno Andrade went for goal from distance minutes later, before former Hatter Tom Elliott skewed the resulting corner wide from close-range.
Stephenson continued to look lively, firstly setting up Bell for a shot wide on the turn, before doing similar work for Reid to fire wide via a great save.
But minutes later, Reid grabbed his first goal at the perfect time for his new club, cleverly hooking home Sam Walker’s corner to give County the win.
FULL-TIME: County 1-0 Salford (Reid, 82 mins)
County starting line-up: Hinchliffe, Thomas, Stott, Palmer, Hogan, J Jennings, Maynard, Rooney, C Jennings, Williams, Bennett.
County second-half line-up: Trialist GK, Thomas (Trialist, 60), Hogan (Walker, 60), Palmer (Downing, 64), Stott (Stephenson, 64), Kitching, Keane, Rooney (Turnbull, 60), Gilmour, Reid, Bell.
Reporter: Sam Byrne
Photographer: Mike Petch