It was a bad day at the office for Celtic as three goals in ten minutes of the second half put paid to any comeback Celtic could mount after going behind to a late first half strike.
Salford started brightly, and played at a hundred miles an hour through the match, giving Celtic no time to settle into any kind of rhythm. Inside the opening ten minutes this almost paid dividends when Mike Phenix thought his effort had crossed the line, but Pete Wylie had just got back to hack the ball clear as far as Scott Burton, who fired back in, well over the bar. Henoc Mukendi vfired wide on the turn and Kristian Platt's edge of the box shot was well placed, but lacked the power to trouble Jay Lucas. Stand-in Celtic keeper, George Willis, still wasn't troubled with James Poole's effort, but Matty Warburton's flash across the face of goal was only narrowly wide, and had the youngster flying across the face of goal.
Celtic came agonisingly close to opening the scoring during a period of sustained pressure towards the end of the half, the ball not cleared from a long throw coming to Jimmy Ball, who powered his header past Lucas, seeing the ball crash back off the bar.
Salford finished the half the stronger of the two teams, Warburton's twenty- yard drive requiring a fine flying save from Willis, but there was nothing the Sheffield United keeper could do when Michael Nottingham's hanging cross was met by a looping header from Phenix back over Willis into the back of the net, right on the stroke of half time.
Celtic started the second half strongly, pressing the visitors back for a spell, Adam Farrell twice went close, an overhead kick from Ball's pull back flashing the wrong side of the post, and a powerful shot after cutting in from the wing that flew through the crowd and smashed on the inside of the post.
Salford's second goal was the pick of the goals, a lovely move down the wing, a one-two between Jordan Hulme and Matty Warburton slicing Celtic's defence open, with the later applying a curling finish into the top corner. If the second was the pick, the third was the most disappointing. Celtic were holding a high line, a through ball into the Celtic half had Willis exposed, he raced out, but Hulme got there first, tapping it round Willis and rolling it in.
Celtic didn't really look to have any way back into the match, despite changing the formation, but Salford added to their tally from the spot when Nick Ryan upended Hulme in the box, and Sam Walker converted the spot kick. Willis got a hand to it, but the spot kick was too powerful, and Salford left with a healthy scoreline they probably deserved.
|2||Nottinghm, Michael||> 71|
|9||Phenix, Mike||> 74|
|11||Hulme, Jordan||> 74|
|12||Clark, Luke||< 71|
|15||King, Craig||< 74|
|16||Allen Richie||< 74|