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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.  

A Look Back at Salfords Recent Play Off History

In the five years since the class of 92 took over Salford City, it’s seen the Ammies gain three promotions in four seasons, and possibly a fourth on the cards.

Living life in the Northern Premier League Division One North for six seasons, it was seventh time lucky after managerial duo Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson took over the reins midseason in 2015.

Much as been made of the Co92 takeover, and how Salford are ‘buying’ their way up to the football league. However, it takes a well-structured club with determined players to claw their way through the leagues.

Furthermore, that determined set of players and managers have got Salford City up to the National League and within touching distance of stepping into the unknown world of league football, giving them 10 years to reach their 15-year plan of playing in the Championship.

Let’s take a look back at what Salford have achieved since 2015…

2015: Northern Premier League Division One North : Champions

The then Ramsbottom United managerial duo Morley and Johnson took over in January 2015, with the Ammies teetering near the top of the table. the Duo won 15 of the last 17 matches in charge and gaining promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division with a game to spare.

Gareth Seddon was the top scorer that season with 24 goals.

2016: Northern Premier League Premier Division: Play Off Champions

Danny Webber inspired Salford to a double bounce promotion with 16 goals in Salfords season at the seventh tier of English football.

An FA Cup run to the 2nd round proper was a major achievement for the Ammies, seeing off League Two side Notts County and taking Hartlepool to extra time in a replay.

They finished third in the league, seeing off Ashton United 3-1 in the semi-final, and Workington 3-2 in thrilling style to reach the highest level in their 76-year history.

2017: National League North: Playoff Semi-Final

Salford’s first season in the sixth tier of English football seen them not taste a promotion for the first time in the Co92’s very short history in charge.

They became a full-time club in 2017 and unveiled the newly named Peninsula Stadium. Mike Phenix became Salford’s top scorer with 15 goals, helping them achieved a fourth-placed finish. They, however, lost in the semi-final on penalties to eventual winners Halifax Town, after the teams couldn’t be split after the two legs.

2018: National League North: Champions

Salford set history once again by gaining promotion to the National League, and once again achieving the highest level the club has played at.

The Ammies finished top with a game to spare, Jack Redshaw topped the scoring charts with 17 goals. Unfortunately in the summer that followed the managerial duo parted ways by mutual consent, which seen now manager Graham Alexander take the reigns.

2019: National League: ???

Three is the Magic Number as Rooney Helps Salford Ease Past Maidenhead

The last time I visited Moor Lane was for the 2016 Northern Premier play off final against Workington, Salford won 3-2. I remember going in the Moor lane entrance and standing on the hill. Behind the goal all the kids played football while the dads had a cheeky pint or two.

How three years can make a difference to a club. The stadium was impressive, giving the whole place a unrecognisable revamp to what I remember. The crowd had certainly grown and the level of football is far more professional.

Salford had the midday kick off, knowing a win would put Leyton Orient under pressure hours later. The Maidenhead fans were giving themselves a decent day out in front of the cameras, with them all turning up in fancy dress – a real sea of colour behind the goal.

Within the first 10 minutes Salford scored to spoil the away fans day trip with some decent work down the right from Adam Rooney, playing in Dieseruvwe to slot home.

15 minutes later Salford doubled their lead with Rooney again from the right with his second assist of the game, crossing the ball across the goal to Touray who power home. This caused Salford fans to start to singing ‘Are you watching Orient’ as the Ammies were marching towards the top of the National League.

Salford looked Dominant down their right hand side through Hogan and Wiseman, and it was causing the opposition some trouble.

One minute before half time, following a goalmouth scramble. Salford were awarded a penalty.

Upped stepped Rooney to cap his own glorious first half performance with a cooley taken spot kick, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

The home side led comfortably 3-0 and never seemed in danger of letting the lead slip. They seemed to cruise through the second half at a canter, although manager Graham Alexander never stopped demanding more of his players and barking orders all game.

Alexander even had the luxury of bringing off Rooney , who’d had a hand in all three goals.

Personally I feel Salford have it in their locker to go up as Champions with them hitting form at just the right time following a rocky patch at the start of the year. However, with only three games to play and two points behind they need Orient to have a very timely rocky patch of their own.

Final Score 3-0

Bury join Bolton in being on the brink of administration, Salford back in form and Rochdale appoint Brian Barry-Murphy

This is the EFL and Below Show, your weekly look at all the footballing action in Greater Manchester which doesn’t come from Old Trafford or the Etihad.

Manchester Football Social’s Niall McCaughan is joined in the studio by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave, where Bolton and Bury’s financial turmoil is a big talking point.

The lads also chat Salford’s chances of National League promotion and Brian Barry-Murphy’s appointment as new Rochdale manager as they look to stave off relegation.

Catch the latest episode here >> https://play.acast.com/s/eflandbelowshow/manchesterfootballsocial-eflandbelowshow-buryjoinboltoninbeingonthebrinkofadministration-salfordbackinformandrochdaleappointbrianbarry-murphy

Salford’s Full Backs are the Untold Stars of Their Promotion Push

The Class of 92’s spending on attacking talent such as Adam Rooney and Rory Gaffney has been well documented over recent months, but the greatest asset to Graham Alexander’s side may just well be his back four, in particular full backs Scott Wiseman and Ibou Touray. 

Consisting of Liam Hogan and Nathan Pond at centre back, Ammies full backs produced a performance owners and former defenders Gary and Phil Neville would have been proud of in their own playing days. 

Centre backs Pond and Captain Hogan were particularly impressive, Bromley striker JJ Hooper found himself short of any goalmouth action throughout the 90 minutes, while wingers Luke Coulson and George Porter both faced an uphill battle from the word go in their own personal duels with Wiseman and Touray. 

Having seen an upturn of form in March winning five of their six games heading into Bromley, the source of Salford’s unbeaten run isn’t hard to find. So much so, ‘keeper Chris Neal came into the game having not conceded a goal in 550 minutes of football, a run that goes back to the end of February. 

Despite playing a mid-table Bromley side with little to play for in terms of promotion and relegation before the season is out. Neil Smith’s side came into the game on the back of a midweek 4-2 win over Braintree Town, the visiting front three therefore had plenty of reasons to be confident upon their visit to The Peninsula Stadium. 

Bromley, who were at times dangerous on the counter attack during the first half, certainly found themselves to be the victims through endless Salford pressure. Alexander’s game plan looked a clever one to the watching eye: Deep, threatening  crosses out wide from Touray and Wiseman plus substitute Tom Walker provided a fresh attacking threat from the right flank which caused more trouble for the opposition.  

Trailing 1-0 to a soft Hooper penalty, down the right hand side Salford reaped the rewards, delivering drama that mirrored The Class of 92’s own careers with Man United. 

And it was only going to be down that flank if the home side fancied nicking anything as Maynard then Pond provided delivered the rewards. Bromley are no strangers to conceding late goals recently, but their collapse was not due to their inability to hold a lead.

Struggling for the most part to test Bromley keeper David Gregory, Alexander’s substitutes coupled with his sides never die attitude showed why Ammies promotion push shows no sign of slowing down. Ending March with six wins in seven games, the dream of competing in League Two looks rather more probable than five weeks ago after a 2-0 home loss to Eastleigh. 

At one point during the second half, Salford diehards began the goal started singing ‘we are going up’. If they are to do so, a look to their full backs may just an extra reason for what looks like an achievement so much more likely by the week. 

Salford Defeat Leaves Alexander With Much to Ponder

At Salford City’s Peninsula stadium Inspirational quotes are never far from view. So much so on the steps leading into and out the stadium’s entrance, a final message for fans to take solace off on their Moor Lane exit is scripted on the concrete front.

It reads ‘There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs’.

For this particular quote seems highly appropriate at present. Saturday’s 3-1 loss at home to relegation-threatened Dover was a rather bitter pill to swallow for the home support.

Because by the time Dover’s Jai Reason had put the final nail in a very sorry Salford coffin, a large majority of Ammies fan had seen enough and ploughed towards the exits. All this after Dennis Politic had started what looked to be a rather promising afternoon with a goal which mirrored David Beckham’s against Wimbledon in 1996. So appropriate  The ex-Manchester United man was in the stands in his first match since becoming co-Chairman and the memories of that sunny day would surely have come flooding back.

Yet Becks would have watched what happened after and wondered where the next three points may come from. For while he and the rest of the ‘Class of 92’ squad will be a key part to Salford for their future success, Graham Alexander looked a man in need of a quick turn around in form to prove he’s the right man to continue Salford’s speedy climb up the English Football ladder.

After Alexander’s predecessors Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley guided Salford to three promotions in four seasons, it has left Alexander with big shoes to fill. After swapping League One football for non-league last summer, the Salford manager was left perplexed on the touchline as his second-half substitute tweaks failed to make the required impact as his side stumbled to their third straight defeat.

Now without a win since the mid-January, this hasn’t been a Happy New Year at The Peninsula Stadium. Yet only a year into the job, Alexander only looks to be starting what appears to be an ongoing ‘project’ at Salford, something Beckham is obviously dying to get his teeth stuck into.

Not that he would have been impressed with his new side against Dover, who climbed out of the relegation places in a well fought out display. Salford who were lucky the visitors didn’t increase their advantage after wasting two golden chances at the death, but due to other results going their way, they remain in 5th place and most importantly still in the driving seat for a playoff position.

Although things of recent weeks look grim reading, things could be a lot worse. Take Barnet and Chesterfield for example who were only relegated last season, but show more signs of going down a league rung than up one. Yet in comparison with the teams in and around them, their New Year slump couldn’t have occurred at a worst time. At seven points behind leaders Solihull Moors, their chances of becoming champions decrease every game.

Right now Salford are digging deeper into a worrying hole, but the need for realism right now is greater than ever. The doubting fans taking a look at the message on the ousted stairway should do the trick just fine.