SALFORD City will be looking to defy the odds once again as they visit Hartlepool United in a highly anticipated FA Cup Second Round Replay at Victoria Park this evening (KO 19:45 GMT).
Stephen O’Halloran’s equaliser in the first game ensured Salford City made the third round draw for first time in their history, with Championship promotion contenders Derby County awaiting the winners of tonight’s televised clash, live on BT Sport.
The Ammies made ligt of the 52-place gap between themselves and Hartlepool in the previous encounter at Moor Lane and were unlucky not to come out on top in a 1-1 draw.
Opponents Hartlepool have not had the best preparation after being hammered 4-0 by Portsmouth at the weekend, whilst Salford were given a weekend reprieve after their rearranged clash with Whitby was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Salford managerial duo Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson have already masterminded one upset against League Two opposition having dumped Notts County in the previous round, and Morley insists the Ammies will not by overawed by the trip to County Durham.
“It’ll be a different game, there’s no doubt about that,” he told Manchester Evening News.
“The pitch won’t be like that, it’s a decent pitch and we can get it down, we can play, and it’s in our own hands.
“The lads have been brilliant and they’ve held their own against League 2 Two sides for 180 minutes now so fair play to them.
“It’s important we do what’s got us here and continue to believe that we can reach the third round.”
Having started their FA Cup run back in September, Salford have got through five rounds to get to the Second Round, knocking out four teams from leagues above en route.
Around 450 supporters are expected to brave the elements and make the 250-mile trip to Victoria Park to cheer on Salford, with midfielder James Poole returning to the ground where he rose to prominence following his release from Manchester City.
With seventh-tier Salford just 90 minutes away from an illustrious showdown with Derby, victory at Hartlepool tonight would be the perfect way to mark the most successful era in the club’s history.
However, Hartlepool well be keen to avoid any repeat of last year’s cup humiliation, having been victims of giant-killing at the hands of Blyth Spartans at the same stage of last year’s competition.
With Salford’s weekend game with Whitby falling foul of the weather, Co-managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley may decide to go with an unchanged lineup for the return clash with Hartlepool.
Ammies striker Gareth Seddon may be available tonight’s replay having missed the original encounter due to a recurring knee injury.
Tom Peers will not feature, though, after his loan deal from Chester expired last week.
Ronnie Moore will once again be without Kal Naismith because the on-loan winger is cup-tied after playing for parent club Portsmouth in the first round of the competition.
Michael Woods (thigh) was an unused substitute during the defeat against Portsmouth on Saturday and should be available for tonight’s clash.
Striker Billy Paynter (Achilles) and defender Harry Worley (ankle) are still missing from Ronnie Moore’s squad.
Hartlepool: Carson, Duckworth, Bates, Jackson, Carroll, Gray, Featherstone, Magnay, Oates, Mandron, Fenwick, Harrison, Walker, Bingham, Bartlett, Jones, Nearney, Smith.
Salford City: Jay Lynch, Chris Lynch, Dawson, Howson, O’Halloran, Hardcastle, Burton. Allen, Stopforth, Poole, Webber, Hulme, Dootson, Giverin, Moses, Mwasile, Kebbie, Sharp, Seddon.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)
By David Warman