Salford City will be hoping to re-invigorate their Sky Bet League Two campaign on Saturday when Cheltenham Town visit.
Last season’s play-off semi-finalists are the first in a double-header at home for the Ammies, which sees leaders Newport County visit on Tuesday night.
After Tuesday night’s Papa John’s Trophy exit, the league is now the sole concern for Salford who are 11 points behind Newport, and eight behind Cheltenham with a game in hand.
The Ammies ended a rut away from home at Barrow last weekend with a 1-0 win, but will still be comforted by the idea of returning to The Peninsula Stadium where they have one of three remaining unbeaten home records in League Two.
Manager Richie Wellens is keen to make the most of the opportunities, but knows the challenge his side will face.
“I think when you’re chasing teams like Cheltenham, like Newport, they’re the games that you want to play because you know that if you win the game you actually make three points up on them.
“Cheltenham had a really good season last year under Michael Duff, he’s done a terrific job down there and there are no secrets about the way that they play. Very strong defensively, they defend their box very well and they’re a threat with the long throws, balls in the opposition’s box.
“It’s a tight pitch at Cheltenham and their home record is very, very good, but we’re at home so we’ll be looking to take the three points.”
Midfielder Richie Towell faces another spell on the sidelines after a recurrence of his injury at Holker Street last weekend, while Ash Hunter is also contending with a knock. With Darron Gibson out long term and James Wilson not quite ready, Wellens admits his options are a bit short.
“Unfortunately Richie will be out for a little bit of time, he’s re-done the same injury but in a different area so that’s a big blow for us because you’ve seen from the 15-20 minutes he was on the pitch the quality and composure that he gives us.
“We are quite thin on the ground in terms of numbers, especially in midfield we’re quite light. Alex Denny has come in and done a really good job so it’s an opportunity for the players to come in and do a job for us.”
The Robins have come into this season with a bit of a vengeance after their play-off hopes were dashed by eventual play-off winners Northampton Town in the summer.
They are the second-highest scorers in the league averaging 1.81 goals per game, shared between 12 players, and they also have one of the tightest defences with clean sheets in seven out of 16 games.
More recently Michael Duff’s side have shown a resilience too, coming from behind to win their last two games at Bradford (1-2) and against Exeter (5-3), maintaining their five-game unbeaten run. That was eight in all competitions until defeat to Portsmouth in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night, albeit there were eight changes from the Exeter win last weekend.
Our only previous meeting came in September 2019 when a Ryan Broom brace saw Cheltenham leave with a 2-0 win.
HOW TO WATCH
The game will be available for supporters to watch online at live.salfordcityfc.co.uk.