Tag Archives: playoffs

Salford City in The National League…Completed It Mate

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.  

20 Years: How It Feels To Be a Man City Fan Through The Rollercoaster Two Decades

Manchester City of 2019 are barely recognisable from the team of 1999. Twice on the bounce relegations are something fans could barely imagine nowadays.

In 1999 City were in the Football League Second Division, or for those of you young enough to not have a clue what VHS is – League 1. Joe Royle, who had made 99 appearances for City in the 70s was the manager, tasked with getting City into the First Division, or Championship as it is now known.

The ground wasn’t the behemoth that is the Etihad Campus, but instead Maine Road. Tucked away down terraced streets in the much-maligned Moss Side area of the city. Rather than the enormity that stands now in East Manchester, it was mish-mashed, expanded at different times, with four stands that didn’t match at all. The stadium isn’t there anymore, in its stead after a lengthy planning permission battle is some new build housing, with little evidence of what had gone before it, with the exception of road names Blue Moon Way and Citizens Place. However, I’m sure most city fans remember the iconic roof of the Kippax and the temporary stand which was not set up to deal with the west Manchester weather at all.

It may be rose-tinted glasses, but the last few seasons of the Maine Road days were the best days to be a city fan. The season culminating in a Wembley penalty shootout against Gillingham, two promotions on the bounce only to go straight back down, and winning the first Manchester Derby in my lifetime.

Many weekends spent in my dad’s golf, putting up with his bizarre taste in music, to watch city put 6 past Sheffield Wednesday, or indeed lose 4-0 to West Bromwich Albion defined my early teens.

We had inflatable bananas, and away fans didn’t sing “Where were you when you where Sh*t” they sang “City are a Massive Club” which had more versions than I care to remember but the one referencing Curly Watts as a celebrity fan was by far and away the best.

The move from Moss Side to Beswick to Eastlands or the City of Manchester stadium (it wasn’t the Etihad in those days) saw an unremarkable season, despite a strong start and hammering Bolton 6-2, we had tailed off by November and had little to talk about with the exception of another win in the Manchester Derby.

And so entered Stuart Pearce as manager and a long run of wilderness years for Manchester City, finishing a few places out of the relegation zone ever season, players like Samaras, Joey Barton and Sylvain Distin were on the books. It’s hard to see now that a midfielder in the side would moon the home fans while playing at Goodison Park, but that happened.

Eventually, money arrived, out went Mark Hughes and in came Mancini, out went mid-table finishes and into the Champions League spots, the big four of Chelsea, United, Liverpool and Arsenal now all see City as the team to beat. The exciting moments are not winning penalty shootouts for promotion but winning the Premier League in injury time and becoming the first team to pick up 100 points.

Out are the hard Psycho tackles which simply wouldn’t stand in today’s game, and in the remarkable touch of De Bruyne. No more feeding the goat and in with Aguero’s devastating accuracy. Veteran players are no longer the likes of Hamann, and now the likes of Kompany. Keegan’s determination would be no match for Pep’s tactical brilliance.

City have gone from noisy neighbours to one of the best teams in Europe in an incredibly short space of time (via an enormous cash injection). There is no denying that they are an absolute joy to watch, and when the wheels get turning they are incredible, the balls you think have been overhit have someone waiting at the end of it who has it in control and on the floor in one touch, carving up the defences of good teams, (lest we forget we beat Liverpool 5-1 last season) and utterly destroying lesser opposition as some of this season’s scorelines have shown.

I may be alone in this opinion, but I miss the difficult years. With City’s dominance is the expectation that they will win every single game, 15 years ago when you expect to lose everything, winning a game would cause utter delirium, especially if it happened to fall against a certain team based in Stretford. If you lost you weren’t disappointed because you expected to, you’d just sing “MCFC OK” even louder. Now I find myself feeling slightly put out that City might not win the Premier League for a season.

It’s been a remarkable 20 years for English football, let alone for Manchester City. Filled with both agony and ecstasy, and complain though I might about not enjoying their success as much as I should, I look forward to seeing what they do in the next 20 years.

4/4: Bradshaw Has Got Curzon Ticking – Is a Late Surge For The Playoffs Too Much Of a Task?

I am struggling to believe that three weeks ago I was heading to Hurst Cross to watch the Ashton Derby, feeling pretty pessimistic about the chances Curzon had of survival and had pretty much resigned myself to a season watching Northern Premiership football.

However, something clicked that day for Curzon and they were utterly dominant. This was followed by two fairly kind games, in York and strugglers, Nuneaton. Chester was far more of a challenge, they were 11 league places ahead of the Nash and gunning for a place in the playoffs. Their recent slight dip in form had given me a bit of hope of the Nash grabbing a point. I didn’t think this away fixture was winnable.

Furthermore, the confidence boost that comes from having already picked up 9 points in 2019 showed on Saturday. One thing that was really impressive was Cameron Mason’s goalkeeping. It really kept Chester out of the game, and while the defence at Curzon still needs a bit of work, Mason really earned his fee on Saturday and kept a hard-won clean sheet.

Curzon have climbed 7 places in a very short space of time and are now a mere 8 points away from the playoffs. The next two fixtures at home to Darlington, who they have recently leapfrogged in the league and away to strugglers Hereford could see another 6 points, which would be huge.

There are some good teams at the top, and getting into the playoffs can be really tight. However, Curzon are looking better than they have for years, they are working together excellently. While they never really had an issue scoring goals, they used to also let quite a lot in which is something they have improved on drastically in a short space of time. If this trajectory of improvement continues they have every chance of reaching the playoffs, and in doing so their highest ever league position.