10-man Salford City were pegged back in the second half by Hartlepool United, who went on to win 3-2.
It was the perfect start for The Ammies at The Super 6 Stadium as Adam Rooney converted Danny Lloyd’s pinpoint cross, and it could have been 2-0 a minute later when Lois Maynard got onto the end of another cross.
However the game changed just before half time when Matt Green was shown a second yellow card and was subsequently dismissed by Andrew Miller.
Nicky Featherstone, Nicke Kabamba and Luke James all scored to put the Pools 3-1 up, before a late own goal gave Salford hope of clinching a draw to finish second, but the hosts hang on to record a second win in six.
“I thought the result was taken away from us, the competitive level was taken away from us,” said manager Graham Alexander.
“Five yellows and a red in a game where there was hardly any physical clashes of any note. But I’m delighted with the way the players didn’t succumb to that, although we conceded the goals that took the result away from us it would have been easy for us to lose our discipline and lose heavily, or get others sent off.
“I think you can see from our supporters at the end that they were really appreciative of the way the players went about it, and they saw what we were up against.
Salford will now host either Wrexham or Eastleigh in the play-off semi-final on Sunday 5th May, and the gaffer says Salford will get ready in the best possible shape.
“We’ve got a full week to prepare, it was good to get a couple of players back into the team today to get us more competition going into the play-offs, they needed that game so they’ll be ready and we’re looking forward to the games.
“We’re in a position where our destiny is in our hands, it’s in our control, we have to win the games to do that but we know we have the talent, we know we have the ambition in the squad, and we’ve just got to let them go together.