A completely new side in preview history will travel to One Call Stadium on forthcoming Tuesday night. And it will be the 91th side to preview in EFL and Conference fixtures, if I have counted correctly over the years since February 2003. Add to that a couple of FA Cup and FA Trophy opponents as well as Checkatrade, so about a hundred sides have been previewed over the years, including cup games against Liverpool, Burnley and even a qualifier against Workington during our 2012-13 Conf winning campaign.
The newest club to preview in over 800 consecutive previews since February 1, 2003 (away to Plymouth in current League One) is the club which followed Leyton Orient into the EFL a few months ago. The tale is of Salford City, owned partly by the famous class of ’92 in Manchester. And the geographical position of Salford may prove the point.
Just a few seasons ago, Salford City played in the Northern Premier League, finishing third there as late as in the 2015-16 season, eventually winning the playoff final against Workington after winning the NPL Division One North the previous campaign.
Well in their first Conf North campaign in 2016-17 (after having kayoed Notts County and earned a replay against Hartlepool in the FA cup in 2015-16), Salford finished fourth but lost the playoff semifinal to FC Halifax Town. In the 2017-18 campaign, Salford were crowned Conf North Champions six points ahead of Harrogate Town. In that campaign, Salford faced ex-league clubs like Boston, Kidderminster, York City, Boston, Darlington, Southport and Stockport. Bradford PA might have been added, that that club is a successor to the one who were voted out in favour of Cambridge United way bay in 1970 and that Bradford club did only face the Stags on nine occasion in League history.
In the National League, Salford finished in third position after winning nine out of their final twelve fixtures. And in the playoffs, they first beat Eastleigh on penalties, the went on to beat AFC Fylde to a 3-0 scoreline in the final to became the first side to go from National League North to League Two in consecutive seasons. Incredibly enough, Salford’s first-ever National League was against Leyton Orient, a 1-1 home draw. But that was not the first time the promoted sides to be met on the opening day as the Stags faced Newport at home on the opening day of the 2012-13 seasons.
Even in the last few seasons, three players with previous Stags experience have played for Salford. The first one was Simon Grand, who played a handful Stags fixtures around 2010, then represented Salford in 2016-17. Grand has this season played for Chester in Conf North.
The second Salford connection needs no introduction. The tale is of Matt Green, who shot the Stags back into the EFL in 2013 by virtue of loads of goals, most notably the injury-time winner at Hereford and the penalty against Wrexham which sealed the return. Add to that, goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup in January 2013 as well. After being released by Lincoln City, Green played 21 games, six of those as sub, and netted four times.
The third connection has played for Salford a dozen times in their inaugural EFL campaign. The tale is of Emmanuel Dieseruvwe, who has played in all games bar one (four as sub) and has scored on three occasions. After his loan spell at the Stags late on in the 2015-16 campaign, Dieseruvwe also played for Boston and Kidderminster.
In the EFL so far, Salford have had mixed fortunes and will look to consolidate. The proof: heavy defeats to hands of Crewe and Forest Green was followed up by a good 3-0 victory at Walsall. But in their latest away fixture, Salford lost 2-0 at Northampton. Meanwhile, the Stags somehow got out of jail by coming back from 2-0 down to “steal” a point at Forest Green by drawing 2-2, the Stags’ fourth 2-2 draw in this EFL campaign, last Saturday, and are now three games unbeaten and above Salford on goal difference.
Expect an interesting game on Tuesday night. Come on Mansfield!
Stockholm, July 4, 2008, 15.00 GMT. Good news came, K.H. gone. March 1, 2012. Ground purchased.