Salford City will be looking to provide the late gift of three points on Boxing Day when Walsall visit The Peninsula Stadium.
The Ammies are unbeaten in four league games after a 1-0 win at Harrogate Town last weekend, and have had a clear week in the build-up to the game.
The day after Christmas has proved unpredictable for Salford over the last decade, although they have won each of the last three at home on December 26th. Last season Brandon Thomas-Asante scored his first goal for The Ammies in a 3-1 win against Crewe Alexandra.
Due to the nature of this season, the players have become used to playing lots of games in a short period of time, and for an extended time too including five midweek League Two games already.
A time often renowned for playing fixtures in a short time frame, this year sees the festive fixture list fall on a more familiar Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday pattern, and midfielder Jason Lowe feels the squad are ready to try and push on after hauling themselves up into the play-offs with the win in Yorkshire last weekend.
“We’ve got a good training week under our belt up to now and obviously looking forward to the challenge of the three game week that we’re hoping to do very well in.
“Usually it is a very busy period for everybody, obviously going into it now with three games, like I said.
“The amount of games that people have played thus far in the time frame that they have has obviously been challenging for everybody but going into the Boxing Day game for us, knowing that we have had a clear week to prepare as best we possibly can, has been helpful and hopefully stands us in good stead.
“We’re on a decent little run and it’s just a case of preparing for the next game and trying to give everything to win, it’s as simple as that.
“There’s a three game week coming up, starting with Walsall, and they’ll be a very difficult team to beat I’ve no doubt. But we’ve prepared well for it and it’s about delivering on the day now, and if we do what we know we can do and what we’re capable of, I’m sure we can cause Walsall problems.”
The Saddlers arrive back at The Peninsula Stadium having won their last four games, and will be looking for a fifth league win in a row for the first time since November-December 2015 in League One. Last weekend they extended that after coming from 0-2 and 2-3 down to beat Port Vale 4-3, thanks to two goals each from Dan Scarr and Jake Scrimshaw.
They will take further confidence from their away record on Boxing Day, when they have won their last three away from home.
Darrell Clarke, promoted from the fourth tier both as a player and a manager, is working with a relatively young squad but the consistency of team selections is paying its dues at the moment. In the summer they didn’t change too much either and eight of the starting XI from last weekend started their win at Moor Lane in January, with a further two on the bench.
They finished 2019-20 in 12th, a place behind Salford, and come into this fixture also a place behind but level on points, so there is as much to be gained as there is to lose for both sides.
“Every game you need to go into it with an edge anyway to try and win,” says Lowe.
“They’re level on points with us at this moment of time, hopefully we’ll get a positive performance and result then we can pull away a little bit in that regard, but every game’s a difficult challenge and one that hopefully we’ll take on and do well.
“They’ll be well organised, they’ll be hard working. A lot of the teams we’ve played thus far, not too many surprises, but we know we’re going to have to compete, we’re going to have to be at the races and if we focus on what we can control and what we’re good at, and if we put in a good performance, I think we’ll stand ourselves a good chance of winning.”
HOW TO WATCH
The action gets underway at 15:00 GMT at The Peninsula Stadium, and supporters can watch online at live.salfordcityfc.co.uk.