THIS SATURDAY Salford City will attempt to win their third straight game and secure a spot in the play-offs as they take on fellow promotion hopefuls Darlington 1883 at Moor Lane. (KO 15.00)
The Ammies currently occupy the final play-offs place in the Vanarama National League North, as they sit in fifth. Despite the fact they are level on points with Chorley, in sixth, Salford have a superior goal difference – so a win will seal their spot.
Meanwhile, Darlington 1883 sit in fourth and are looking to secure a play-offs spot for themselves, a point could be enough for them, because of their superior goal difference.
When the sides met earlier in this season they played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Darlington’s Heritage Park.
Michael Nottingham opened the scoring on the day with a fine header, before Mark Beck equalised for the hosts, though Mike Phenix did restore the Ammies’ lead on the brink of half time as he bundled in.
Beck then doubled his own tally late on, with a bullet header, that ensured the points were shared.
Salford go into the match chasing a third straight win, last time out they beat Worcester City 2-1.
Phenix gave his side the lead in the 36th minute, before James Poole received his marching orders late on in the first period after picking up his second booking.
Jordan Murphy equalised for Worcester on the hour mark, before Fleetwood Town loanee Nick Haughton wrapped up the three points for Salford with just four minutes left.
Darlington are also in good form and have been victorious in their last four games, having last lost to league leaders AFC Fylde at the start of the month.
Last time out they earned a hard fought three points at home to AFC Telford, as Beck scored the only goal of the game from the spot in the 53rd minute.
Phenix has now netted 16 league goals this term and is one of the division’s most prolific scorers – he will look to be a thorn in the side of Darlington’s defence.
George Green and Nick Haughton will also aim to cause issues for The Quakers, both youngsters have impressed since arriving on loan from Burnley and Fleetwood respectively, and Salford will look to them for creativity and attacking flair.
City skipper Simon Grand and Michael Nottingham are surely one of the top scoring defensive partnerships in England with 16 goals between them. But they will have to be on form defensively if they are to stop Beck this weekend.
The Scotland Under-19 International netted his 17th goal of the campaign last time out and is The Quakers main danger man.
Salford’s defenders will also have to be watchful of Josh Gillies and Terry Galbraith who have netted 22 league goals between them this term and are a threat down either flank.
David Syers and Steve Thompson will also be crucial to Darlington’s chances of winning the midfield battle but they will have their hands full with Scott Burton and Sam Walker being two of the Ammies key men.
A win for Salford will secure their spot in the play-offs and give managers Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson a real shot at their third straight promotion with the Ammies.
Meanwhile a loss could also see them into the play-offs – if Chorley and Stockport fail to win their respective games.
By Matt Bullin