Salford City will be keen to build on Saturday’s win at Ebbsfleet United when fellow play-off hopefuls Sutton United visit The Peninsula Stadium on Tuesday.
Carl Piergianni’s 32nd minute header ended a run of five league games without a win for The Ammies and lifted us back to fifth in the table.
However there is no let-up as Sutton are next to have a go at staking their claim for a play-off place for the second season in a row. The U’s made it to the semi-finals last season after finishing third, where they were beaten 3-2 by Boreham Wood, and arrive at The Peninsula Stadium with perhaps one of the best records against the top seven.
While a win wouldn’t take Sutton above Salford, barring an incredible swing in goal difference, they could leave as the only team to do the league double over Salford if they can take all three points back down south.
The Ammies though have a fierce record to defend having not lost a Tuesday night home league game since January 2016 when Stourbridge won 1-0 in the Northern Premier League (P16 W12 D4).
In the third season of their current stay in The National League, The U’s are again competing at the upper end of the table, and had the added enjoyment of competing in the Irn-Bru Cup, or the Scottish Challenge Cup as it is formally known. By virtue of being one of the top finishing teams in The National League not to be promoted in 2017-18 they were invited to enter the competition at the Second Round stage, winning 1-0 at Airdrieonians before losing on penalties away at Bohemians.
Back in the league though they have remained competitive and as mentioned before, in 10 games against the current top seven The U’s have lost just once, away at Eastleigh, winning four and drawing five. Whilst that’s a good record to have, they are also the joint-lowest scorers in the top 10 with 44 goals and goals have been spread across the team with midfielder Craig Eastmond’s six strikes the most of the lot.
However teams don’t have to be prolific scorers, they have to pick up results and Paul Doswell’s side evidently have a knack of doing that.
That goal deficiency has been noticeable recently as Sutton have hit a bit of a dip in form; they are without a win in their last four and failed to scored in three of those. A corner looked to be turned on Saturday as they took a two-goal lead against Hartlepool United, but they conceded twice to draw 2-2 and a late Pools chance could have seen the result turned around completely were it not for a late save by Ross Worner at his near post.
It is the third time this season that Sutton have gone four league games without a win, but they haven’t gone more than that since April 2018 when they went five without a win.
One to watch – Gimé Touré
The Frenchman notched his third goal in Sutton colours on Saturday, making it three in his last seven and three in 11 in total. Signed from AFC Fylde in December, Touré is a powerful striker who scored four goals in 19 appearances for The Coasters before a controversial departure in December.
Standing a 6’2 he can be as much of an aerial threat as a direct threat, and will no doubt keep the Salford backline busy.
It’s a while since our last, and only, fixture against Sutton which was way back in August. Piergianni headed us into the lead before Eastmond equalised. The U’s were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Aswad Thomas was shown a red card for a back heel on Mark Shelton, but they still have enough in them to find a winner as Ross Lafayette, now departed to Billericay, tapped in a winner after Salford were caught out by the bounce on the 3G pitch.