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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
1 goals for Ibou Touray
4
Gus Mafuta

Rodney '56

5
Liam Hogan (c)
6
Carl Piergianni
1 goals for Carl Piergianni
8
Lois Maynard
15
Devonte Redmond
18
Danny Whitehead

Shelton '68

20
Mani Dieseruvwe
1 goals for Mani Dieseruvwe

Gaffney '79

23
Nathan Pond
Yellow card for Nathan Pond
AFC Fylde
1
Jay Lynch
3
Zaine Francis-Angol
4
Neill Byrne (c)
5
Jordan Tunnicliffe
6
Andy Bond

Crawford '74

8
Ryan Croasdale
9
Danny Rowe
10
Danny Philliskirk
12
Luke Burke

Haughton '20

15
Dan Bradley
30
Alex Reid

Hardy '59

Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
11
Tom Walker
19
Mark Shelton
21
Devante Rodney
30
Rory Gaffney
Substitutes
13
Russell Griffiths
7
James Hardy
11
Tom Crawford
18
Timi Odusina
27
Nick Haughton
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - Dave Challinor
Match Officals
Referee - James Oldham
Assistant Referee - Ollie Jackson
Assistant Referee - David Hunt
Fourth Official - Sam Purkiss

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Match
Report

The job begun by Phil Power and continued with such prowess by Anthony Johnson & Bernard Morley was finished today, in glorious Wembley sunshine. Graham Alexander’s boys produced a fine display that simply proved too much for opponents AFC Fylde to handle. A first-half goal from Mani Dieseruvwe got the promotion ball rolling. Carl Piergianni’s thumping header put the Ammies in control soon after the break and Ibou Touray effectively made the game safe with nearly half-an-hour to play. Roared on by their supporters Salford City maintained their composure until a final whistle that saw the club leave the non-league pyramid for the uncharted waters of the EFL.

The big team news was Adam Rooney’s absence from the squad, kept out by the injury sustained during that penalty shoot-out six days ago. There was a shift in formation too with Mani Dieseruvwe spearheading the side up front, ahead of a four-man midfield that accommodated Danny Whitehead. Matt Green was available again following a one-game suspension but missed out on the sixteen today as Rory Gaffney & Devante Rodney claimed places on the bench.

The game got underway and produced it’s first opportunity within sixty seconds. A chipped pass into the left-hand side of the box found Dan Bradley, with Alex Reid inches away from providing a touch in the middle. An early scare for the Ammies but their boisterous support was unconcerned – they were here to see their side go up.

Both teams had decent spells of possession during the early stages and Salford’s first sight of goal popped up on eight minutes. Ibou Touray’s long throw from the left was partially cleared by the Fylde defence, falling nicely for wing-back Scott Wiseman. A low first-time effort from twenty yards followed and Coasters keeper Jay Lynch was relieved to see that one whistle just outside his right-hand upright.

The Coasters countered and Salford central defender Nathan Pond picked up a yellow card for a foul on Bradley. Danger-man Danny Rowe lined up the free-kick but could only power a shot into the defensive wall. At the other end Wiseman tucked a pass inside from the right and Devonte Redmond teed up Whitehead, but from sixteen yards out and just right-of-centre he could only lift a shot over the crossbar.

A fairly even start to the game but Salford made a breakthrough in the fifteenth minute. Touray’s free-kick from the left dropped towards the near-side of the six-yard box where Neill Byrne’s attempted clearance came back off team-mate Luke Burke. The ball fell conveniently for DIESERUVWE who pounced to place a low six-yarder past Lynch to open the scoring.

A touch of fortune about the goal but it was put away with some aplomb by a player who has become key to Salford’s impressive form over the last couple of months.

AFC Fylde continued to play their neat brand of passing football but suffered another blow on twenty minutes. Burke had picked up an injury that forced his premature retirement from the action, with Nick Haughton taking his place. The former Salford midfielder got involved immediately, drifting past a challenge before flicking a pass to Rowe whose low shot spun off Liam Hogan on its way through to Chris Neal.

Both sides were pressing forward and another Touray throw-in from the left wasn’t properly dealt with by the Fylde defence. They were nearly punished as Piergianni hooked in a fifteen-yarder that was deflected behind for a corner. The Ammies created another chance from their next foray forward as Touray crossed left-footed from the right. Pond got onto the end of that one, rising high to glance a six-yard header wide of the far post.

A good spell of attacking football for Salford but it was Fylde’s turn to apply pressure next. Haughton had been influential since coming on and he collected a loose ball in midfield before sliding a pass out to Bradley on the right. A low, angled effort from nearly twenty-five yards followed and it wasn’t too far wide of Neal’s right-hand post. Soon after that Rowe tried his luck from outside the area only to see his effort soar high over the crossbar.

Ryan Croasdale was the next Coaster to have a go, slamming in a shot from 25-yards that forced Neal into action, getting down to his right to push the ball behind for a corner. Thirteen minutes before half-time Fylde carved out their best chance of the half and could – perhaps should – have had an equaliser. Andy Bond advanced with pace on the right before playing a ball inside to Haughton. The return pass was a beauty, picking out Bond’s progress into the box and Salford’s defence had been split apart.
The angled effort on goal from twelve yards was hit firmly enough but the shot was always rising and failed to trouble Neal.

A very presentable opportunity indeed but crucially it hadn’t been taken.

The Coasters were having the better of the proceedings as half-time approached and a Haughton run was curtailed by a Lois Maynard foul. Once again Rowe shouldered responsibility for the set-piece and after it had been blocked by the wall, Haughton picked up possession. A jink took him past one challenge, but the subsequent shot was charged down, leaving Salford’s narrow advantage intact.

The Ammies hadn’t threatened their former keeper’s goal for a while but three minutes before half-time a free-kick from deep was met by Piergianni whose header was collected by Lynch. He would do rather better before too much longer but for now it was Fylde who were enjoying decent spells of possession. At the end of one of them Rowe’s pass to the right found Bond whose ball inside was curled wide of Neal’s right-hand upright by the left-foot of Croasdale.

During time added on at the end of an entertaining first half, Wiseman’s driving run took him to the line on the right. There were red shirts arriving in the danger zone only for Bond to meet the cross with a clearing header. Down at the West End Bradley’s cross was collected by Neal despite the close attentions of Reid.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 AFC FYLDE 0

A closely contested first-half and within a couple of minutes of the restart a typically twisting Haughton run was halted by a top-drawer challenge from Salford skipper Liam Hogan. The Ammies pushed forward themselves and after a Whitehead effort was charged down Maynard’s pass to the right was picked up by Wiseman who aimed a cross at the near post. Diesieruvwe dived to make contact but under pressure from Byrne and from a difficult angle could only head wide of Lynch’s left-hand upright.

The game had opened up already and Zaine Francis-Angol powered forward on the left before slipping a pass inside for Haughton. His low shot took a deflection but Piergianni got in vital clearance as Reid closed in. For Salford Piergianni’s lofted cross from the left was punched clear by Lynch, although only as far as Whitehead. The midfielder slipped away from a sliding challenge before jockeying for a shooting position. None opened up for him, so he laid a pass off for Maynard. The former Tranmere midfielder hit a low twenty-yarder with some power, but the ball deflected off a defender and behind for a corner on Salford ‘s right.

Touray touched the set-piece short and Redmond launched a great cross that dropped towards the edge of the six-yard box. Right on cue the unstoppable force that is PIERGIANNI arrived to bullet in a header that beat Lynch conclusively. The Salford fans gathered behind the goal were in raptures and their club had one foot in the English Football League Two. A twelfth goal of the season for Pidge – only ace marksman Rooney has scored more for the Ammies during this campaign.

In the aftermath of that goal Gus Mafuta was replaced by Rodney as the Ammies returned to their recently familiar 5-3-2 formation.

Fylde needed a goal quickly, with Francis-Angol doing his best to create one. A powerful spot of running was finished off by a pass inside for Haughton who could only lift a twenty-five-yarder high over the bar.

Coasters’ manager Dave Challinor made his second change just before the hour, introducing James Hardy for Reid. His side needed to find a response, but the game slipped beyond their reach just past the hour mark. Ammies' wing-back TOURAY started his run on the halfway line and a burst of pace took him into Fylde’s penalty area on the left. What followed was almost certainly intended as a cross, yet the ball dropped over Lynch, smacked off the inside if the far and fell over the line.

Another slice of fortune for Salford, but the old footballing adage states that you make your own luck – the Ammies were almost home and dry.

To their credit Fylde continued to play their passing game, searching for chinks in their opponents’ defensive armour. Substitute Hardy made ground on the left, but Haughton swung and missed at his low cross when well placed to trim Salford’s advantage.

There was another change for the Ammies after that as Mark Shelton came on in a like-for-like swap with Whitehead. A welcome return for the former Alfreton midfielder who had been out of action since suffering a serious left injury last November.

With twenty minutes to play Danny Philliskirk drilled in a twenty-five yarder from right-of-centre but this one – like quite a few others this afternoon – failed to test Neal in the Salford goal.

Tom Crawford came on for Bond in the seventy-fourth minute, but Fylde were looking short on energy and ideas by this stage. The next chance went Salford’s way as Touray’s free-kick from deep on the right was attacked by Piergianni at the far post, with Byrne just about getting a touch at the expense of a corner. Redmond delivered from the left, with Rodney getting up to flick on a header that dropped outside the far post.

Rory Gaffney replaced Dieseruvwe after that and AFC Fylde were rapidly running out of time. They plugged away and eight minutes from time Philliskirk’s ball inside found Hardy on the right-hand side of the box. He unleashed a powerful shot from nine yards that hit the side-netting and the Coasters were denied what surely would have been nothing more than a consolation goal.

Salford maintained their grip during the time that remained, including four minutes added on and the referee’s whistle was greeted in enthusiastic fashion by the Salford City supporters in attendance.

FULL-TIME: SALFORD CITY 3 AFC FYLDE 0

It’s true to say there was an element of luck about a couple of Salford’s goal this afternoon. It’s fair to mention that Fylde had plenty of possession and a few very decent chances. It’s also undeniable that the best team on the day clinched promotion to the English Football League. The Ammies worked hard, stuck to their plan and made the most of the chances that came that way. That’s what the game is all about There was a feeling from early on that this would be the dirty old town’s afternoon.

Huge credit is due to Graham Alexander, his backroom staff and his players. This has been an outstanding effort and Salford City have reaped the reward for all their diligent preparation and hard work. They are now the only team to secure back-to-back promotion into the EFL and have done so courtesy of the biggest winning margin recorded in a National League Promotion final.

It was good to see chairmen past and present in the posh seats today, along with the committee members who have given so much time and effort to the cause over many years of accumulated service. Less than six years ago this afternoon’s events were absolutely unimaginable and this success is a worthy outcome for a dedicated group of people who have been the soul of this football club for so long.

There has been some cynicism about the investment that has pushed the club to this success, but as anyone with understanding of the game knows, it takes more than money. It takes spirit, motivation and know-how and we have all those qualities at Salford City F.C. A huge vote of thanks is due to the club’s owners who have turned their vision of league football into glorious reality.

The supporters were nothing short of magnificent today – as they have been all season – their numbers are increasing but their belief has never been in doubt.

It’s the end of an era – a once archetypal non-league club have been transformed into a professional outfit. Those cold, wet nights at the likes of Ossett (Town and Albion), Garforth & Harrogate Railway Athletic had their particular charm, but a new adventure is about to begin.

Little Salford City have grown up…the EFL awaits. See you all there…

Attendance: 8.034

https://salfordcityfc.co.uk