Captain Ash Eastham believes Salford City are starting to produce the sort of displays expected of them ahead of Saturday’s trip to Harrogate Town.
The Ammies are unbeaten in three league games heading to Yorkshire, and were unlucky not to take all three points against leaders Newport County on Tuesday night.
An inspired performance from the visiting keeper Nick Townsend prevented the score from being and higher before Josh Sheehan’s controversial late penalty.
However despite the disappointment of missing out on two extra points, there were still plenty of positive aspects 29-year-old Eastham says the team have taken from the game.
“We’ve shown a real progression since the manager’s come in, I think the first couple of weeks there might have been a bit of inconsistency with our performances but I definitely think you’re starting to see on the pitch what we’ve been working on on the training ground, the kind of things he wants to implement in our matchday performance, and I only think we’ll grow from that.
“If you look at the last two games when we played Cheltenham on Saturday, them and Newport on Tuesday were the top two in the league and even though it was two draws – we would have liked more points especially after the Tuesday game – we certainly feel like we’ve nothing to fear from this league.
“More points would have been nice, and going forward I think we can really attack the rest of this league season with optimism that it’s going to be a success.
“Our performance on Tuesday was up there with the best of the season from us which I think comes at a good time for the manager as well because he’s been wanting to see what he’s been implementing with us on the training pitch, and I think he’s starting to see it now; high energy, solid as a unit but also creating chances.”
League new boys Harrogate aren’t unfamiliar to us after promotion battles in both 2017-18 and 2018-19 in the National League North and National League respectively, but Simon Weaver eventually led Town to the Football League for the first time via the promotion final at Wembley in the summer.
They started the season off playing at Doncaster Rovers while the EnviroVent Stadium underwent essential upgrade works to stands and the pitch, which is now grass instead of artificial to meet EFL regulations.
Results-wise the season started okay though for Town with four wins in their opening seven placing them amongst the early runners, but just two wins in the last 11 have seen them slip down into the bottom half although still well clear of any danger. On Tuesday night they ended a run of three defeats with a decent 2-1 win ay Exeter City, although they haven’t won at home in the league since a 1-0 win against Barrow in mid-October.
Nevertheless Eastham expects Town to take confidence from their win on the south coast, and push The Ammies all the way as they look for a first league win against Salford.
“There’s no doubt they’ll be up for it off the back of a good result away at Exeter on Tuesday night, who are no mugs themselves, but we certainly believe we can go there and get the three points.
“Like many other teams in this league [they’ll be] hard to beat, don’t give up to the end, and that’s really kind of the message we need to drive in our own squad.”
For the third away game in a row Salford will also come up against a crowd, with around 500 expected at the EnviroVent Stadium, but will have to wait until further notice before fans are allowed back in The Peninsula Stadium. However that is a source of motivation for the centre-back, even if it isn’t supporters in Salford’s favour.
“When we’re at home it would be nice for us to be able to have some of our fans back in the ground which obviously can’t be done at the moment, but even travelling away I think it’s a good thing.
“We experienced it at Barrow the other weekend and, regardless of whether they’re the home fans or not, I think it still pushes our performance on as an away team.
“It gives us that bit of bite in our play because we are getting a bit of stick from the fans on the side, but I can only speak from a personal point of view, I actually enjoy it a bit more and find it gives you a bit more kick to your performance so the more the merrier.”
HOW TO WATCH
Ammies supporters can watch the game live online this Saturday at live.salfordcityfc.co.uk. Match passes cost £10 in the UK and £7 abroad, with commentary passes available for £2.50.