REPORT: Wanderers v Salford City

Wanderers underlined their squad strength as the supporting cast stepped onto centre stage to guide the Whites into the second round of the Carabao Cup.

Elias Kachunga, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Kieran Sadlier are still waiting for their first League One starts of the season.

But the trio proved themselves ready, willing and able with the goals that saw Wanderers come from behind to all but end Salford City’s hopes before Conor Bradley’s spectacular first senior strike and a late Dapo Afolayan effort completed an emphatic victory.

Kachunga goal.jpg

League Two City could have made it a tough night after they led mid-way through the first half through the impressive Brandon Thomas-Asante.

But Ian Evatt’s men stirred themselves and after moving through the gears brushed aside the threat of an upset with some memorable moments.

Kachunga nodded the equaliser before Bodvarsson rounded off a remarkable passing move to make it 2-1 at half-time.

Sadlier drove home the third after an hour to effectively avoid the threat of a penalty shoot-out.

And Bradley then came off the bench to thump in a stunning 25-yarder before Afolayan slotted home as ruthless Wanderers extended their unbeaten start to the campaign and secured their spot in Wednesday night’s second-round draw.

Bodvarsson goal.jpg

Wanderers made eight changes to their side that had started Saturday’s win over Wycombe but were still more than equipped for the challenge.

The early signs were good as the Whites moved the ball around but Salford were always dangerous on the break and grew in confidence as the first half wore on.

The visitors forced the first save of the game as Joel Dixon – starting his first game since January – moved smartly to his right to keep out Matt Smith’s header from an Elliot Watt corner.

Luke Bolton then spurned a shooting chance as he burst forward before Wanderers countered with an effort from Bodvarsson, who steered his shot just wide after controlling an excellent angled ball forward from Kieran Sadlier.

But Salford always looked threatening down their right flank and when Bolton nodded down a clearance from Dixon, the ever-dangerous Brandon Thomas-Asante advanced into the penalty area before driving a low shot inside the far corner to put City ahead.

Sadlier goal.jpg

Wanderers needed a response and within 10 minutes they got it to kick-start the comeback.

Perhaps not surprisingly Kieran Lee provided the spark as he won the ball back in the Salford penalty area before chipping up a cross which Kachunga did well to nod home with red shirts around him.

That restored Wanderers’ belief and three minutes before the break they went ahead with a goal of the highest quality.

Working the ball over the pitch with umpteen passes they patiently unlocked the Salford defence for Kachunga to pull the ball back for Bodvarsson to tuck away his his first goal of the season and his fourth in his last four games at the UniBol either side of the summer break.

Wanderers will do well to top that effort but seven minutes into the second half they nearly added another goal out of the top drawer.

Bradley goal.jpg

This time Dixon started the move with a throw out to Bodvarsson who then released the forward-charging Jones to cross for George Thomason to poke his effort just wide at full stretch as the Whites went from end to end in the blink of an eye.

With just one goal in it Salford weren’t out of the tie, though.

And when Wanderers lost possession moments later, Conor McAleny sent in a skidding effort Dixon had to turn round a post.

The third goal was needed and with just over an hour gone it came.

Jack Iredale had replaced an unwell Declan John at half-time and when he picked out Sadlier with an excellent deep cross, the wideman took a touch and drilled an angled drive past Tom King with the help of a minor deflection en route.

Dixon still needed to save well from City substitute Callum Hendry to maintain the size of the advantage and continue his good night’s work.

Afolayan goal.jpg

But Wanderers underlined their superiority when Bradley strode forward to power home an unstoppable piledriver before Afolayan showed neat feet in the box to steer the ball home and open his account for the season.

There was still time for teenagers Nelson Khumbeni and Lamine Toure to make senior debuts from the bench and despite Evatt’s annoyance at the decision to show a late red card to Thomason for sliding in on Bolton, little could take the gloss off an entertaining passage through.

Wanderers: Dixon; Jones (Toure 88), Aimson, Johnston; Sadlier (Bradley 21), Williams (Khumbeni 83), Thomason, John (Iredale HT); Lee; Bodvarsson (Afolayan 83), Kachunga. Substitutes: Trafford, Bakayoko, Morley, Dempsey.

Sent off: Thomason

Salford City: King; Bolton, Vassell, Leak (Touray 66), Berkoe; Watt, Lowe; Thomas-Asante, Lund (Watson 66), McAleny; Smith (Hendry 66). Substitutes: Torrance, Simoes, Porter, Sargent, O’Brien, Dackers.

Booked: Vassell, Watson

Referee: John Brooks

Attendance: 6,505 (781 Salford)

Read Time: 4 mins