Nail-biting affair for Gary Neville and the Class of 92 as Salford City grind out 1-0 win over Stockport County in first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final to take a step closer to Wembley
- Salford City squeezed into the play-offs by a single goal ahead of Mansfield Town
- The play-off winners will meet either Bradford City or Carlisle United at Wembley
- Salford were bought by Class of 92 and Singapore billionaire Peter Lim in 2014
The glamour of being part-owned by Manchester United’s Class of 92 is not quite what it was now that Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have brought Hollywood to Wrexham but, watched by Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and former United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Salford City moved a step closer to a date at Wembley and a place in League One last night.
Salford, bought by the Class of 92 and Singapore billionaire Peter Lim in 2014, ground out a deserved 1-0 victory over Stockport County in the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final at the Peninsula Stadium, a slender lead they will take into the second leg at Edgeley Park next Saturday.
Salford, who squeezed into the play-offs by a single goal ahead of Mansfield Town, were promoted to League Two in 2019, and this was the biggest game in their history. The winners will meet either Bradford City or Carlisle United at Wembley on Bank Holiday Sunday later this month.
Salford ground out a deserved 1-0 win over Stockport County in the first leg of their semi-final
Salford City were bought by the Class of 92 and Singapore billionaire Peter Lim in 2014
Stockport, who finished three places and four points above Salford in the regular season, went into the game with a long injury list that included all of their three leading scorers, Kyle Wootton, Paddy Madden and Will Collar. It was the visitors’ goalkeeper, Ben Hinchliffe, who had to make a smart save early on from former Watford defender Adrian Mariappa after he had run on to a cross, unmarked, at the back post.
Salford dominated the early stages but Stockport came desperately close to opening the scoring after 16 minutes. Alex Cairns saved superbly from Connor Lemonheigh-Evans but he was powerless to stop Ryan Croasdale’s follow-up, which flew past him but cannoned off the underside of the bar.
A minute later, Salford were ahead. Elliot Watt curled in a cross from the right and when Salford’s towering striker, Matt Smith, wrestled with Fraser Horsfall to get to it first, the forward won struggle and looped his header over Hinchliffe into the net.
Salford were the better team in a first half that saw a burst of crowd trouble close to the interval and Hinchliffe had to make another fine save, from a Stevie Mallan free kick, to prevent the home side going further ahead.
Hinchliffe was called into action again 20 minutes from time to deny Conor McAleny and ensure a tense return encounter in Stockport next weekend.
Salford City: Cairns, Shephard, Vassell, Mariappa, Touray, Mallan, Watt, Bolton, Hendry, McAleny, Smith.
Subs: Lund, Bellagambi, Barry, Jenkins, Leak, Morton, McLoughlin.
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Wright, Horsfall, Byrne, Knoyle, Camps, Croasdale, Hippolyte, Hussey, Stretton, Lemonheigh-Evans.
Subs: Rydel, Olaofe, Jaros, Davenport, Cody Johnson, Rowe, Pye.
Referee: Tom Nield (West Yorkshire)
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