SALFORD booked their spot in the semi finals of the EHA Men’s Cup when they beat Northern Section rivals Liverpool 33-20 on Saturday.
Current league leaders Salford clearly went into the game as favourites, but Liverpool, with the return of their players from England U18 duty, were determined not to let their local rivals have it all their own way.
The first half of the game got away slowly for both teams. It has been a while since Salford last played a competitive fixture with players being away with GB and England a little bit of rust had set in to the team's cohesion and they struggled to capitalise on their early attacks.
Indeed, Liverpool's young squad started the better, scoring the first goal of the game and keeping the score to one goal apiece after five minutes. Salford did eventually get into to gear though and took little further time to motor up a bit of a lead.
A strong spell between 5 minutes and 10 minutes saw them take a 5 goal lead at 7 to 2. This prompted a minor come back from Liverpool to bring the scores back to within three before Salford pushed on again to finish the first half ten goals to the good at 17-7.
A ten goal deficit at half time is not something many teams can overcome, especially when playing against one of the strongest defensive units in the league. However, full credit needs to go to the plucky young Liverpool squad. At no point did they give up. Indeed, coming out after half time you could have said they were the more hungry of the teams for victory.
Whilst the teams swapped goal for goal during the first five minutes of the second half, the second 5 minute period was the mirror opposite of the first half. This time it was Liverpool that outscored Salford by 6 goals to 1 to bring the scores back to within 5. Alas, though, that was the closest Liverpool were to come.
Taking back control of the game, Salford regrouped and applied a little bit more focus to the job at hand. In doing so they cut out many of the basic errors that had cost them dearly in the first period of the half.
With just over 20 minutes gone their lead was back up to 10 and by the end of the half Salford had managed to extend their lead to 13 to win by 33 goals to 20.
Salford will take on Cambridge in the semi finals on May 12/13 after they beat Bath University 35-24.
* In the English Leagues, Ruislip Eagles convincingly beat Warrington Wolves 38-16 at Birchwood in the women’s First Division, while Olympia beat Thames 37-27.
The English Men’s League play-offs continue this Sunday with leaders Salford taking on third-placed Ruislip Eagles at SportHouse in Barking on Sunday.
And on the same day, London GD take on Manchester and Cambridge play Leeds, both at Leyton SCORE Centre.