Salford City will be hoping to provide the early gift of three points as Stevenage head to The Peninsula Stadium on Saturday.
After a difficult afternoon in Mansfield last weekend, The Ammies are hoping to bounce back following a blip in form. Despite a dominant opening half-hour, Salford were pinned to defeat following two first-half goals from the home side, nullifying Matty Lund’s opener.
Captain Ash Eastham reflected on the positives from the away trip with every challenge coming with its own learning curves.
“We started the game like a house on fire, we knew before we played them they had won eight out of nine games so it was never going to be an easy one. We went 1-0 up and then nearly 2-0 up which was a really positive start to the game, then the goals conceded were extremely frustrating.
“We responded well in the second half, we huffed and puffed without getting that chance to get us something from the game but it’s certainly something we can work from we just need to create that little bit more.”
Eastham is a regular sight in Gary Bowyer’s back four having played every minute of league football since early September, and is part of a Salford defence that has conceded the fifth-fewest goals in League Two so far (21).
However, far from satisfied with the position in the table, the 30-year-old knows that to be in and amongst the top end of the table the focus has to be on putting the ball into the net at the right end.
“Overall, I would definitely take a few more goals conceded if it meant we had more points on the board and a couple of strikers on 15 goals maybe… but that’s football.
“We’re bothered about one thing and that’s getting up the league. We certainly pride ourselves on goals conceded as a back four but we like to chip in with a few more from set-pieces to get the confidence up and the points ticking along consistently.”
The best teams make their home ground a difficult place to go, a ‘fortress’ as Eastham puts it. Still aiming for the top end of the table, The Ammies know getting results at home can be season-defining.
“Your home form can certainly collect you points, look at that week we had recently when we collected seven points, we put a real good shift in. You have to make your home ground a difficult place to come and I think we’ve shown that ever since I’ve been at this club; we have to keep that going.”
Without a win on the road since match week two and a recent managerial change, a result for Stevenage would be considered an upset. Paul Tisdale has taken the helm at the Boro, and has picked up a point from his first two games.
The unpredictability of the league is all too familiar to Eastham who believes it’s mind over matter against teams fighting in the bottom half of the table.
“It’s certainly a game that we’ll go into expecting ourselves to put in a performance that delivers three points, that will only come from mentality and running hard because no matter who you play in this league every game offers up difficult situations.”
Winger Ash Hunter is available again after completing the last game of his three-match suspension last weekend, and Ash Eastham is in line to make his 350th Football League appearance. However Salford are still without Corrie Ndaba, Matty Willock, D’Mani Mellor, Brandon Thomas-Asante and Ian Henderson.
Former Salford attacker Bruno Andrade returns to The Peninsula Stadium for the first time since leaving in the summer.
HOW TO WATCH
Tickets are available in advance online or from the ticket office (open until 4pm on Friday and 9 to 11:30am on Saturday), or you can pay cash on the gate for the West Stand.
Supporters outside the UK can watch the game live online with a match pass for £10, including a single-camera stream, replays and Club commentary. Domestic supporters can listen to Club commentary with an audio pass for £2.50. Head to live.salfordcityfc.co.uk to see what’s available in your area.
Please note, prices are set by the EFL. T&Cs apply, available on the streaming site.