Salford City’s Emirates FA Cup campaign begins on Saturday when Hartlepool United visit The Peninsula Stadium.
It’s five years on since The Ammies last reached the Second Round of the competition, having been knocked out in first round replays to League One sides in the last two seasons.
With a new manager in the dugout in Richie Wellens though, Salford can look at moving on with the season and the 40-year-old is ready to get going.
“[I’m] Looking forward because it’s my first game, it gets me a first chance to see the players up close.
“I’ve watched a lot of videos of the games, I was at the game against Cambridge the other night but this is the first time you really get a feel for the players because my intensity levels will go up so yeah I can’t wait.
“We’ve only had one day because in terms of the first day I couldn’t really do anything because I had to be Covid tested and make sure that I’m allowed in the bubble and all that stuff.
“I think I’ve got a good group of players, a good blend between youth and experience, I think we’ve got a lot of talent in the squad, and now it’s just about allowing the players to express themselves and it’s my job to get the best out of them.”
Pools arrive at The Peninsula Stadium a week on from their first defeat in seven games this season, a 5-0 bruising away at Torquay United. Other than that though they have started well as they embark upon a fourth season in the National League.
Dave Challinor is a manager who knows how to handle teams at the top of tables, and in his years of management last season was the first time he didn’t win promotion or finish in the play-offs. He arrived at Victoria Park in November 2019 with Pools finishing 12th when the pandemic ended last season, as well as reaching the third round of the FA Cup where Pools lost at Oxford United having won at Yeovil Town and Exeter City.
Compared to five years ago, when League Two Hartlepool visited seventh tier Salford in the Second Round, the standings have turned with Salford now the higher-ranked side, and Wellens is aware of the threat Pools will pose but is confident in his side’s ability.
“I’ve watched a few of the games, they’ve started the season really well. They had a heavy defeat against Torquay but they’re a club that are used to being in the league.
“I think Dave Challinor is a really good manager he had a really good time at Fylde, he’s used to winning games and I think he’s really comfortable in the style of football that he plays so it’ll be a tough test.
“These games are about one thing and the main thing is our attitude; if our attitude and application are good then we’ve definitely got the quality to hurt them.”
The sides last met in the 2018-19 season, winning a game a-piece in the National League. Our only Emirates FA Cup meetings were in the 2015-16 season; a 1-1 draw at Moor Lane and a 2-0 win after extra time for Hartlepool in the replay.
HOW TO WATCH
The game is only available for supporters in the UK to watch due to rights restrictions. A match pass costs £10 and can be purchased from live.salfordcityfc.co.uk.