Salford City return to Newport County for a second time this season for a vital play-off clash in Sky Bet League Two.
Only two points separate second-place County and fifth-place Salford ahead of the fixture at Rodney Parade, and it’s possible that either team could be top of the pile come 5pm.
After a below-par start to 2021, Salford scored a first win of the calendar year at Scunthorpe United on Tuesday evening.
Ian Henderson scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win, his first since November, and says it was a good game for Salford to now start building on in the second half of the season.
“I think it was incredibly important because obviously we’d lost a couple in a row. As you can see from just a win it’s bumped us right up the league, granted a couple of teams around us might have a game in hand but I’d rather the points on the board than not.
“The celebration at the end, you could see what it meant to everyone so of course it’s always nice to score goals and it’s even nicer when it’s right in the depths of the game in the 90th minute.
“[We’ve got to take] I think the robust nature of the game, because the weather’s dictating the quality of the pitches at the moment, just that togetherness, determination, work ethic to carry on grinding games out and we’ll take each game as it comes.”
The Ammies are still without Darron Gibson and Richie Towell, while Di’Shon Bernard and Bruno Andrade will have their niggles assessed.
The Exiles’ winter schedule has been interrupted by the weather and subsequent postponements, so they haven’t had much time to make amends to their league form.
In fact Saturday will be their first league game of 2021, and only their third since drawing 1-1 at The Peninsula Stadium on December 15th. By comparison, Salford have played five since then, and had a sixth (against Colchester United) postponed.
That said, Mike Flynn’s side performed valiantly to take Brighton and Hove Albion to penalties in the FA Cup Third Round last weekend, and they will be keen to use that as a platform to move on from a four-game winless run in the league.
County are now without influential attacker Scott Twine, one of five players to return to their parent club in January, but they have brought in more young loanees in Owen Windsor and Jake Scrimshaw from West Bromwich Albion and AFC Bournemouth respectively, as well as signing Jack Evans from Swansea City.
They are in prime position to go top of the league though, with games in hand, if they can notch a first league win against Salford. However Henderson agrees that is an edge that both camps will be feeling…
“Newport’s had such a really, really good start to the season and credit to them, we played earlier on in the season at our place and unfortunately we drew 1-1, they scored a last minute penalty, but I think it’s going to add a bit more passion to the match knowing that if we win it we can go top and all what comes with it, but the objective has got to be compete, do the basic fundamentals.
Three or four weeks in football is a long time and a couple of players have moved on, I watched a thing the other day it was the boy who signed for Swindon scored an unbelievable goal, but a couple of players have left them and without doubt they’ll probably add more players in this window like most teams in our league. But we’ll do our due diligence on them and set out a team to compete and try to win the game.”
HOW TO WATCH
Saturday’s game will be streamed online at live.salfordcityfc.co.uk with match passes available for £10 in the UK and £7 abroad. A commentary-only pass is also available to buy for £2.50.