Christmas is always an extremely busy period for a football club, and for Salford City it is no different. We preview what could be a season making month for our very own Football League hopefuls.
From now until January 5th, Salford City play no less than 5 league games, all in quick succession. This means a possible 15 points for the Ammies, a figure which could prove vital come the end of the season.
Salford head into the busy Christmas period in an impressive 2nd place in the Vanarama National League table, only 1 point behind leaders Leyton Orient. The Ammies also have a 3 point lead over third place Harrogate Town.
Given this is only Salford’s first ever season at this level, many could forgive the reds for not getting promotion. However from the first 5 months of the season, it seems that Graham Alexander’s side have just one goal in mind, the prestigious Football League. Ties with local sides Oldham Athletic and Bury will have Salford fans dreaming of next season, but it is important that they do not get ahead of themselves yet.
Season so far…
Salford have taken to the National League like seasoned pro’s. With a bang in form Adam Rooney leading the way in the goals tally, its tough to see how Salford can be stopped. The club went on a staggering 20 game unbeaten run in the league, before falling to Chesterfield earlier this month. In that time, Salford secured 14 wins in that sensational unbeaten run, including a 3-0 victory over former Football League side Hartlepool Town.
Goals have been coming thick and fast for Salford in what has been an extremely exciting first half of the season. Huge summer signing Adam Rooney has not disappointed, scoring 17 goals in the league, 19 in all competitions.
Dagenham and Redbridge
First up in the hectic Christmas fixture list for the Ammies is Dagenham and Redbridge. The Daggers currently sit in 14th place in the National league, and appear to be on the rise. Managed by ex England Under-21 boss Peter Taylor, the Daggers are in good form in the league. Unbeaten since November 3rd, Dagenham have won 5 and drawn 2 since losing to Sutton over a month ago. The two sides played out a goalless draw way back in September, however with both sides scoring plenty of goals this is very unlikely to be the case again. The Daggers will be a good test for Graham Alexanders side, but anything but a win would be seen as a disappointing result for the Ammies faithful.
Next up for Salford is a tough trip north of the border to Wrexham on Boxing Day. If Salford are to win this one they will need to make sure that there is no sign of a Christmas hangover. The Welsh side have a real buzz about them at the moment after appointing former Premier League star Mike Newell as assistant manager. Newell will bring a huge amount of experience to the Dragons and you can expect to see a real boost for the players. As of writing, Wrexham currently sit in 4th place, just 3 points behind Salford. If both sides win their previous game then this could be a real fight for the promotion places. Whilst a win would keep the pressure on the leaders, you can’t help but think that Salford would be happy with a draw in Wales.
?⚪️ STATEMENT | Mike Newell appointed first team assistant manager at Wrexham AFC.
— Wrexham AFC (@Wrexham_AFC) December 19, 2018
Following the trip to Wrexham, Salford have another away tie, this time against mid-table Barrow. This one should be much more in Salford’s comfort zone. Barrow currently sit in 12th place in the National League (at the time of writing). Barrow will be a weakened side when they face Salford, due to Sheffield United’s recall of striker Tyler Smith. Smith has been in fine form for Barrow this season, hitting double figures already for the Bluebirds. It is clear that Smith will be a huge loss to Barrow’s attack, and it is not yet clear how his position will be filled. The Ammies on the other hand have no lack of fire power. With Rooney and Gaffney both scoring goals, this should be a comfortable home win.
No, this is not a typo. Salford will face Wrexham twice over the festive period, this one coming on New Years Day, just 5 days after the two sides first meeting. Not much more can be said really, a lot of this game could both physically and mentally depend on the sides previous fixture. Salford will have the edge with the home tie. The Peninsula Stadium has been a fortress for Salford this season, where even the best of sides will struggle. Wrexham have only lost twice on their travels this season, and with what undoubtedly will be a big away following on New Years Day, they will fancy themselves to get a result. Graham Alexander’s side will have to be at their best.
Things don’t get much easier for Salford. It really is a case of out of the frying pan and into the oven. Following the tie with promotion rivals Wrexham, Salford face a tough trip to the capital to face Leyton orient. Orient currently sit a top of the National league (however all could change over Christmas). Orient are in fine form under Justin Edinburgh, and are well on their way to regaining their Football League status. The two sides drew 1-1 back in August, and have both improved a lot since then. This is expected to be a fast paced, exciting encounter. It will be nail biting for both sets of fans with what is at stake being so clear, however for a neutral this is a dream fixture.
Evidently this is not going to be an easy Christmas for the Ammies, but it could well be a very exciting one. Come the New Year, Salford could sit at the top of the National League, with one eye firmly on promotion.
Keep up to date with all things Salford City over the Christmas period on the clubs official website.
Come on the Ammies!