Alexander impressed with Salford players and the officials at O’s
PUBLISHED: 14:30 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:10 07 January 2019
Simon O'Connor Photography
The Ammies boss reflected on the win in E10 and the organisation of his whole team
Salford City manager Graham Alexander heaped praise on his team and the officials at Leyton Orient after a 3-0 win over the leaders on Saturday.
The O’s had the chance to go eight points clear of their title rivals with a victory, but they conceded twice early on and could never recover.
Carl Piergianni headed the opener in the sixth minute as he held off Marvin Ekpiteta to head past an indecisive Dean Brill before Rory Gaffney nodded into the net from six-yards with eight played in E10.
Salford had already looked organised by this point and remained so to restrict Orient’s chances and the Ammies added a third late on as Piergianni headed his second.
Alexander said: “It was a brilliant performance from the players and I thought we approached the game in the right way. The discipline we showed was fantastic all the way through the game.
“It was a really hostile atmosphere to come into both for us and the officials, but I thought both us and the officials handed the occasion really well.
“To score two early goals was a great boost and I was just delighted we didn’t completely drop off. We still offered an attacking threat.
“We had to soak up a lot of pressure, but when that pressure was around our goal generally it was a Salford head on the end of it or we blocked the cross or shot.
“The way we defended was superb and I’m delighted to score three goals away from home, especially against such formidable opposition.”
Orient were caught on their heels in the title encounter in E10 as Danny Whitehead’s corner was perfect for centre back Piergianni to head in.
Two minutes later and an even better delivery from Whitehead resulted in Gaffney making it 2-0 to Salford.
City wrapped up the win with 80 on the clock when a Tom Walker corner found the influential Piergianni inside the area and he headed in from close range again.
Orient had chances, with Josh Koroma denied by Chris Neal early in the second half, but they were second best to Alexander’s team.
Jobi McAnuff also tested the Ammies custodian with a fine strike in the first half, and Josh Coulson saw a header cleared off the line by Gaffney at the end of the 45 to keep it 2-0 at the break.
Koroma’s big opportunity arrived two minutes after the restart, but his low effort was stopped impressively by Neal.
While O’s continued to huff and puff in the second half, it wasn’t to be, but they had every right to feel aggrieved about Nathan Pond’s challenge in the 15th minute.
The Salford man slide in high on Koroma after referee Richard Hulme had blown his whistle for a foul.
Despite the ferocity and danger of the tackle, Pond only received a booking, which in hindsight was crucial.
Alexander continued: “It is the players who go out there and get the clean sheets and we needed Neal. Against Wrexham we didn’t really need him much, but he made two or three fantastic saves and especially the one at the start of the second half.
“If they had scored that, at 2-1, it could have been a different afternoon, but I’m delighted with the players because it takes such a big ask to stop the run of form we had.
“We had four defeats and then we had the top two, so we needed strong minds and strong hearts to turn it around, but we have only given ourselves an opportunity to stay in the pack at the top. We haven’t done anything yet.”