Salford City host fourth-placed Harrogate Town at The Peninsula Stadium on Tuesday evening in another significant match at the top of the Vanarama National League table.
Saturday’s draw at Solihull Moors made it 18 games unbeaten in the league for The Ammies, who are now three points behind leaders Leyton Orient after they won 2-0 at Wrexham thanks to two late goals.
Now Harrogate visit The Peninsula hoping to close a three-point gap between second and fourth.
Promoted alongside us from the Vanarama National League North last season as play-off winners, Simon Weaver’s side have also taken well to their debut season in non-league’s top flight. It took them a few games to get going but after three consecutive draws they went another eight games before defeat, which came at the hands of Leyton Orient.
They have responded well though and have lost just one other game in the league, plus they have a game in hand after a recent game against Maidenhead United was postponed due to The Magpies’ having players on international duty.
A difficult Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie against Wrexham went to a replay at The Racecourse which The Dragons won 2-0.
Since that cup exit to Wrexham, Town are unbeaten in three of the last four having lost to in-form Dagenham then won two and drawn one (against draw specialists Chesterfield). On the weekend they came from behind to beat bottom side Braintree Town; Justin Amaluzor gave The Iron a lead at The CNG Stadium before Jack Muldoon equalised at the end of the first half. Second half goals from George Thomson and latest signing Michael Woods sealed the points.
Town were the top scorers in The National League last season with 100 goals, 20 more than our 80 which was the second highest, and they only failed to score in two matches. They have scored nine in the last five matches and are joint second top scorers with us in the league this season (41).
One to watch – Jack Muldoon
The 29-year-old signed in the summer after turning down a new contract at AFC Fylde, but he has settled in quickly at The CNG Stadium. Town’s top scorer already has eight goals in 19 appearances, just two short of last season’s tally of 10.
He has previous National League experience with Lincoln City, spending two years with The Imps that culminated in promotion to League Two in 2016-17.
You may have seen his name as Jonathan, but he is more commonly referred to as Jack!
Harrogate pushed us all the way for the National League North title last season, and came out six points behind us – a difference that arguably came down to both league meetings with Town.
The first was a Tuesday night in September at The CNG Stadium, with Harrogate top and Salford looking to close the points gap that had opened up. We got off to the best possible start as Mike Phenix scored after two minutes, but Joe Leesley scored from the penalty spot just after half time to level things. Set pieces had been a thorn in Harrogate’s side, and in the final 15 minutes Lois Maynard met an excellent delivery by Ibou Touray to head Salford back in front and to three points.
In the reverse fixture at The Peninsula Stadium in January, we came out on top again with another 2-1 win. Phenix was also the man to score the opening goal before Tom Walker scored his first Salford goal. Dominic Knowles pulled one back for Harrogate, glancing in Leesley’s delivery, but Harrogate couldn’t find an equaliser and fell 11 points behind us in the title race.
We played each other four times in the 2016-17 season, with both league meetings ending in draws (0-0 and 3-3) as did an FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round match (2-2). Town won the replay at Moor Lane 3-0.