Salford City will be looking to record their first three points of the season at the weekend when we welcome newly-promoted Sutton United to the Peninsula Stadium.
The fixture was initially scheduled to be played at Sutton’s Gander Green Lane but had to be reversed last week due to ongoing upgrades to the pitch.
In the week, Gary Bowyer’s side tasted penalty heartbreak away to Derby County. The game finished 3-3 and was left for a shootout which unfortunately decided the Ammies’ fate after Luke Burgess had his spot-kick saved. The Manager hopes the squad can bounce back from the defeat and learn from the past mistakes.
“Initially the boys were pleased with their efforts but ultimately we’re in the results business. We’ve spoken about taking that next step and winning games when you get into those positions.
“They’ve trained ever so well again this morning so we’ll be looking forward to this weekend’s game now.
“The players were very honest and want to improve, which is great to see from a coach’s point of view, the learning is taking place from there.”
The South London club will also be hoping to claim their first win of the campaign at Moor Lane after their Football League debut saw an opening day loss away to Forest Green Rovers last weekend. The Us were also unfortunate to lose their Carabao Cup first round tie against Cardiff City. Having led the game early on Sutton were handed an early exit after the Championship side netted three times, winning 3-2.
Sutton are the newest addition to the EFL but Bowyer feels the challenge will be no different to the league’s other opponents. He praised the work of manager Matt Gray and the consistency of the squad.
“Matt Gray has done a fantastic job there since he’s gone in and taken over and got them promoted. If you look at the group, he’s managed to keep hold of the team that got them promoted, so we’re coming up against – whilst not an experienced football league team – an experienced team that’s been together for over a season now.
“They know each other’s strengths and how they play whereas at the moment we’re still learning about each other. They’ve got a real solid base to work from, they’re high energy and you can see why they’ve had success last season.”
The two teams have only come up against each other twice before, both in the 2018-19 National League season where the games finished with respective home wins. Salford went on to achieve promotion that season via the play-offs whilst Sutton finished in a respectable 10th place.
It’s another home fixture for The Ammies, with a game at the Peninsula every Saturday for the entirety of August. The gaffer believes the advantage of a home crowd doesn’t make too much difference in the grand scheme of the season.
“For me and the players, it’s not the case of it being an advantage because we are prepared to play everybody home and away this season.
“It’s good, from our point of view, to be in front of our home fans. We’ve not had fans at Moor Lane for such a long time so it’s so good to see them all again, the contribution that they make is massive for us!”
Sutton have rightfully earned their first appearance in the Football League after a stellar year clinching the National League title.
Winning four out of the last five at the back end of last season, Sutton saw off promotion rivals Hartlepool to get over the line and bring silverware to Surrey.
The Us stormed to the top with a strong finish under the stewardship of Matt Gray, who earned the National League Manager of the Year accolade in his first managerial position. The 39-year-old has previously had experience in League Two with assistant managerial spells with Aldershot Town and Crawley Town. Gray’s knowledge of the league combined with a tight-knit group could see Sutton not only survive their EFL debut season but thrive hoping to kick on from last year’s success.
Ahead of last week’s opening day defeat to Forest Green, Sutton prepared in pre-season by facing some local opposition, comfortably beating Haringey Borough by four goals in their return from the summer break. Defeats to both Dartford and Gray’s former side Aldershot followed, before closing out their pre-season against Barnet in which The Yellows were 2-1 winners.
Over the summer, Sutton looked to strengthen in all areas of the pitch whilst simultaneously holding on to the core of their squad from last year. Gray has brought five new names to Gander Green Lane, including forward Enzio Boldewijn from National League Notts County and Richie Bennett, to bolster the goalscoring threat. Boldewijn has appeared in both of Sutton’s competitive games so far this season but is yet to get off the mark in yellow. In midfield, youngster Alistair Smith joins from Mansfield after an impressive loan spell at Altrincham and right back Joe Kizzi takes the step up to League Two, joining from Bromley.