Salford City were on the verge of club history, and well ahead of their projected league status as they entertained AFC Fylde in the National League Play-Off final at Wembley.
Having overseen three promotions in an amazing four seasons, many would have backed Salford to make it a fourth and second on the bounce into League Two. The opposition had been going great guns in the league, however, do have the distraction of the FA Trophy final back at Wembley next weekend.
The Ammies crowd outnumbered, outsang and nearly outfought the security, as they looked to drink up every second of the biggest game in their 79-year history. There was plenty of noise made by the Salford lot and you could feel the anticipation amongst the crowd.
Salford dominated from start to finish, with Fylde not really causing much concern for Graham Alexander’s backline. The early pressure paid off when a free kick bounced off a couple of Fylde players and, landed at the feet of the Mani Dieseruvwe, the striker duly put it away from around 8 yards out.
The men in yellow and black staged a little fightback, going close on a couple of occasions but nothing to nail-biting in all fairness.
Half time whistle went and Salford went in the happier, the crowd moved a little towards the centre of the goal as they looked to suck the ball in for that second goal, the goal that could really settle the nerves.
Up stepped Carl Piergianni with a bullet header from a corner, the Salford crowd erupted and chants of ‘Salford’s going up’ rang around the stand. Every time, I’ve watched Piergianni this season he has impressed me, he looks like a player that may be in demand once he gets in the spotlight of league football. Salford have got a proper defender there, and one that is always down for the cause.
With still over thirty minutes left of the match to play, Salford put themselves in easy mode and cruised to the final whistle. Things got a little bit more celebratory on the hour mark when Ibou Touray, was left to wander down his left flank from inside his own half to the 18-yard box. He put in one of his trademark crosses but surprised everyone, including himself by finding the far corner of the goal and it bouncing in off the post to settle the tie at 3-0.
A lot can be said for Salford meteoric rise through the non-league divisions since the class of 92 took over. However, what you can’t fault is the player’s effort and commitment to keep Salford striving forward.
This really is a fairytale, Roy of the rovers type stuff, and one that certainly grabs the imagination. I can predict a few disgruntled League Two fans next year when Salford hog the limelight, and it will certainly be a scalp most teams will want to add to their bow.
However, Salford has to be applauded for the way it’s run, and the setup behind the scenes. As we have seen so much this season with badly run clubs near falling out of the league, Salford has the chance, and fair play they’re taking it with both hands.