Salford City will meet familiar opposition when then travel to Northumberland to take on Darlington 1883 at Heritage park tomorrow, kick-off 7.45pm.
Despite being over 100 miles apart, the intensity of the recent reverse fixture and the context of both club’s rapid rise to this level has seen the two become major rivals.
Both contested last year’s Evo-Stik Division One North title with Salford getting promoted as champions and The Quakers being promoted through the play-offs.
They also share a similar sense of ambition.
The Ammies’ was brought on by the high-profile takeover by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim and the Class of ’92, while Darlington’s is borne out of a return to the football league after its former incarnation Darlington FC was dissolved in 2012.
Salford City: 5 things we learned from Ilkeston win
With top side Blyth Spartans now looking like champions elect, and only one other play-off place available, tomorrow night’s games represents a match neither can afford to lose.
Salford City will also be out for revenge after their dramatic reverse fixture against Darlington a fortnight ago.
The two teams played out a classic encounter at Moor Lane, with Lee Gaskell snatching a late winner for the visitors in a seven-goal thriller.
Just one point separates the two teams, but The Ammies will arrive the form team having won their last two matches, whilst Darlington have won just one of their last four.
Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s men also travel make the 122-mile journey boasting the best away record in the league.
The road warriors have picked up 37 points away from Moor Lane this season, and it’s this superb showing that has kept them firmly in the play-off hunt.
Extending that record to Darlington may be a difficult task however, as The Quakers haven’t lost a home game since their 2-0 defeat to Marine in October.
Another good sign for Salford is the fact that only league leaders Blyth Spartans have done the double against them this season, and with the fixture at Moor Lane being such a close match, tomorrow’s winner really is anyone’s guess.
What the managers said
Speaking after Salford’s 2-0 win against Ilkeston Bernard Morley was quick to point out the weight of tomorrow’s fixture.
Underlining the importance of what went wrong at Moor Lane a couple of weeks ago, Morley stated: “Going into Tuesday night’s game it makes it all the more important…We all know what’s at stake we have got two wins and two clean sheets, and with them (Darlington) losing we know it’s going to be a tough game. They have to win at all costs Tuesday, and we’ve got to go there and put right what went wrong when we played them here”.
Meanwhile, Darlington manager Martin Gray is hoping to get The Quakers’ defeat to Stourbridge out of his side’s system and is calling for the fans to help push them over the line tomorrow night.
Speaking to the club’s website Gray commented: “I really hope that we get big crowds for the next two home games.
“The fans really can be our twelfth man as they have proved many times before. Small things can help decide football matches, and the support of the fans is one of them.”
Jay Lynch will return to Salford’s squad after serving a suspension picked up in the reverse fixture between the two clubs, however with Craig Dootson picking up a solid clean sheet against Ilkeston his starting place may not be guaranteed.
Gareth Seddon looks doubtful for tomorrow’s game after picking up a hamstring knock in the game against Ilkeston.
The star striker only played half an hour of Saturday’s game before being subbed off. However, his injury may see joint top scorer James Poole return to the starting line up.
Tunji Moses looks set to be out for a number of weeks after also picking up a hamstring injury in the warm up against Ilkeston.
The midfielder looks set to miss the majority of Salford’s remaining games, but should return before the end of the season.
Leon Scott looks set to miss tomorrow night’s game for the hosts.
The footballer-cum-model needed lengthy treatment during their 1-0 defeat to Stourbridge and he will be a big miss for The Quakers. Apart from his injury though the Quakers have a clean bill of health.
Main image by @SalfordFCPhotos/Charlotte Tattersall