We undoubtedly have one of the toughest tests of the season on Saturday, as we host the runaway league leaders Salford.
The opening day of the season was one of the few highlights of our campaign so far. A 2-0 win away to Salford thanks to a double from David Ferguson got our season off to the perfect start against the title favourites. However, since our fortunes could not have differed any more greatly.
While our season has completely crumbled after our brilliant start, Salford have only lost once more in the league and have opened up a huge gap at the top of the table.
The so-called rivalry between the two clubs looks set to come to an end. Materialised purely by both club’s fighting for promotion with each other for the last three seasons. The first season we played each other the two fixtures were no different then any other league matches, if they were a sign of the drama to come between the two sides. Thommo and Dowson scored two goals in the final few minutes to earn us a 2-2 draw at Heritage Park.
However, once this season is finished and Salford surely secure the title we may not meet for a long time, if that is the case I for one will be glad. When we look back over this period of time and the success we have had on the pitch the two opposing teams that will spring to mind will be Salford and Spennymoor.
For their fans, they won’t be bothered about us come next season, regardless of the recent chants from some Ammies at Blyth. I’m sure some of these will be the same people who probably didn’t realise Salford had a football team till the Class of 92 came along. Despite that being said the owners and managers have a plan and they are executing it. Regardless of the path I want our club to take it is hard not to be jealous of what Salford have done. Everything is being set up for their future on and off the pitch. Despite our recent journeys together, in so many ways there are lightyears between the clubs.
As previously said, in years to come when we look back at this period of success in our history some of the matches will Salford won’t ever be forgotten. Looking back over the games we have had for me three stick out.
The 2-0 defeat at Moor Lane. It was built up as such a huge match, but we simply didn’t turn up, lost our heads and with everything that happened it was a disastrous afternoon. The aftermath was unnecessary and really was a sour note in what should be remembered as a great season for both clubs.
That extra spice that had been added carried over into the next season and will be forever remembered by those in attendance. Coming from 3-1 down to win late on at Moor Lane was an incredible day. Lee Gaskell played the starring role before Nathan Cartman won the game in the most dramatic of fashions.
For me though the home game was just as memorable. Salford appeared to have revenge just weeks later, but Leon Scott and a scrambled winner from Lam Hardy was one of the great nights we had at Heritage Park.
The six points from those two games which easily could have been zero made a huge difference when looking at the overall picture of our title-winning season.
I want Salford to go up this season, so we are done with the circus and the drama that comes with them. This season it looks like they will get promoted and in the next few years, I expect them to make the Football League. Our next few years, in contrast, are far less clear.
Looking ahead to the actual 90 minutes there are a number of our players that have played in the past games against Salford which will surely bring an edge to the match. Which for Saturday’s match when we need a lift it can’t be a bad thing.
Our last two games have produced positive performances at one end of the pitch if we have still been dire at the other. To turn our fortunes around though, one of these performances needs to turn into a win, or this season will get uglier before it gets better.
On paper, the teams, the form, there is only one winner and it isn’t us. However, football is not that straightforward, our team will be up for it, so will our fans, one more dramatic result over Salford? You never know.