REPORT | Wanderers 3 Salford City 0

Carlos Mendes Gomes team celebration Salford

Holders Wanderers made a commanding start to their defence of the EFL Trophy as they eased past Salford City to take the early advantage in Group E, writes Pete Oliver.

The Whites moved to the top of the standings as they look to progress to the knock-out stages with the chance to reprise last season’s triumphant run to Wembley.

League Two City were no match for Ian Evatt’s men, who took an early grip on the contest with goals inside the opening 12 minutes from Carlos Mendes Gomes and Ricardo Almeida Santos and then wrapped up victory after the break through Aaron Morley's first goal of the season.

Wanderers were able to make seven changes to their starting line-up and still field a quality side which showed its pedigree with less than a minute gone.

Mendes Gomes made it a flying start with a superb strike from almost 30 yards which he arrowed into the top corner to claim his first Wanderers’ goal in stunning style.

Carlos Mendes Gomes goal Salford

The Whites were clearly in the mood as they zipped the ball around and an excellent angled pass from Morley almost brought a second goal as Will Forrester almost converted at the back post.

However, Wanderers didn’t have to wait long to make it 2-0 as Almeida Santos got himself on the scoresheet.

The skipper had ended his goal drought with three in two games in February and added to his Wanderers’ tally when he beat City keeper Joseph Wright to a bouncing ball to nod home and put his side firmly in control.

Ricardo Almeida Santos goal Salford

Wright did make a decent save to keep out an effort from Dan Nlundulu after the striker had been played in by Paris Maghoma.

And Maghoma then twice went close himself when he ran onto a Randell Williams’ pass but lifted his shot just over the bar and then fired just wide from Jack Iredale’s assist as the chances continued to come.

Perhaps inevitably, Wanderers couldn’t maintain all their early tempo and Salford had their moments before the break as they tried to find a way back into the tie.

But it was still the Whites who went closest to the next goal in stoppage time when Maghoma picked out Morley for an excellent header which brought an equally good save out of Wright to keep it at 2-0.

Ricardo Almeida Santos celebration Salford

Maghoma was never from the action and four minutes into the second half he had another chance to increase Wanderers’ lead but from another Williams’ pass again dragged his attempted finish just off target.

Another goal felt inevitable, though, and it came with 52 minutes gone with a touch of class from Morley. Maghoma created the opening down the right-hand side with a low cross and when the ball was ferried out to Morley, the midfielder made space to drill a low right-foot shot into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area.

That was the points firmly in the bag as Evatt then made his permitted five changes to spread the workload ahead of a breather for international duty this weekend.

Luke Matheson was among those to come on as the former Rochdale defender was given his first taste of competitive action since appearing in this competition a year ago for Wolves’ U21s as he made a senior debut for the Whites.

Aaron Morley celebration Salford

And the 20-year-old recent recruit to Wanderers’ B Team squad almost had a hand in a fourth goal as his deep cross was helped back across goal by Cameron Jerome for Victor Adeboyejo to head over.

Victory in their opening game took Wanderers above Manchester United’s U21s, who are next up at the Toughsheet Community Stadium on Tuesday, 26th September before the Whites finish their group games at Stockport County in mid-November.

Wanderers: Baxter; Forrester, Almeida Santos, Iredale; Morley; Dacres-Cogley (Jones 75), Maghoma, Mendes Gomes (Thomason 60), Williams (Matheson 75); Nlundulu (Adeboyejo 69), Bodvarsson (Jerome 69). Substitutes: Hutchinson, Khumbeni.

Booked: Matheson

Salford City: Wright; Ingram, Vassell, Berkoe; Bolton (Humbles 61), Lund, Watson (Hendry 61), Collins (Olopade 80); Ashley (McAleny, 61), Dackers (Smith 80), McLennan. Substitutes: Cairns, Tilt, Smith.

Booked: Berkoe

Referee: Aaron Jackson

Attendance: 2,983 (377 Salford)

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