Harrogate Town came out second best as the National League North’s top two went head to head at The Peninsula Stadium, despite a spirited second half performance.
First half goals from Mike Phenix and Thomas Walker put Town in a tricky position at the interval, though the visitors came out all guns blazing and pulled a goal back through Dom Knowles’ delicate header.
Knowles almost completed the comeback later on as his shot looked destined for the top corner, though Max Crocombe made a terrific save that ultimately sealed the three points.
Simon Weaver made three changes from Tuesday night’s 5-0 win over St Albans as James Belshaw, Louie Swain and Terry Kennedy returned to the back five.
Despite a promising start from Town, Salford drew first blood as Phenix tapped home from close range at the second attempt after Belshaw had twice saved shots on his goal.
Town tried to hit back through Joe Leesley’s long range shot, but the hosts looked buoyed by their early goal and had the ball in the net again soon after through Phenix, though this time the striker’s finish was ruled out for offside.
The linesman’s flag stayed down the next time the hosts had the ball in the net though as a low cross from the right found its way to Walker arriving late and able to beat Belshaw from just inside the box.
George Thomson and Leesley tried all they could to pull a goal back with the former FC United man inches away from volleying Michael Nottingham’s headed clearance into the top corner moments before Leesley couldn’t quite get enough curl on his effort to find the bottom right corner.
Town’s best chance came three minutes before the break as Leesley floated a cross to the back post that Ainge attacked with real power to head goalwards, though Crocombe was able to claw away and deny Town a first half goal to show for their efforts.
Salford’s stopper showed his quality again after 56 minutes springing to his right to keep out Dom Knowles’ effort that looked to be heading into the top corner.
Town got their rewards for an impressive start to the half three minutes after the hour mark as Knowles’ header from Leesley’s free kick nestled into the corner.
The hosts tried to restore their lead with a series of long shots, though efforts from Liam Hogan and Nick Haughton did not trouble Belshaw.
Ainge and Knowles continued to look like a menacing partnership deep into the second half with Knowles denied by a block this time following his strike partner's knock down.
Despite Town throwing men forward, Salford held firm to open up an 11-point league at the top of the National league North.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Fallowfield, Swain, Falkingham, Kennedy, Burrell, Thomson, Emmett, Ainge, Knowles, Leesley
Subs not used: Thewlis, Cracknell, Beck, Kitching, Agnew
Goals: Knowles 63
Salford City: Crocombe, Nottingham, Touray, Maynard, Piergianni, Hogan, Haughton (Dudley 84), Mafuta, Phenix (Askew 63), Redshaw (Beesley 84), Walker
Subs not used: Livesey, Shelton
Goals: Phenix 14, Walker 26
Booked: Piergianni, Haughton
Referee: L Doughty