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Itela header pushes Salford City to play-off joy

Salford played their part in a thrilling conclusion to the race for the playoffs after beating Stourbridge 2-1 at The War Memorial Ground.

The result secures The Ammies at least one home game at Moor Lane against local rivals Aston United, over whom Salford have two wins in this year’s league campaign.

The War Memorial Ground was packed to the rafters as 1,827 people watched the host’s attempts to secure a play-off berth.

10 minutes in, mission tricky became mission impossible.

Elsewhere, Workington rocketed into a two goal lead in the first five minutes against Buxton, then Salford drew first blood against The Glassboys thanks to hot prospect Michael Itela with a driven effort from close range.

As it stood, Stourbridge were out of the playoff hunt at the expense of Workington, as they quickly made their lead three against Buxton.

It meant Stourbridge would have to win in order to secure a playoff spot as Workington continued to run riot in Cumbria.

They came closest five minutes before half time after a powerful headed effort by Leon Broadhurst was caught by Jay Lynch.

Stourbridge were convinced the ball was over the line and crowded the referee but he waved play on.

Five minutes later Stourbridge felt aggrieved again, as target man Kyle Hawley went down in the box after a stiff challenge from Nolan, however the referee would again wave away the appeals.

With Ashton also leading at half time against Sutton Coldfield, finding a second goal would be vital for Stourbridge.

The hosts had another penalty appeal turned down in the opening 15 minutes, with another handball appeal going against them, it looked like it caught Nolan on his shoulder rather than his arm as a corner was given.

Both sides opened up around the hour mark as they game continued to flourish.

Stourbridge thought they had the goal to put them back into the playoffs through Pierpoint again, yet the goal was disallowed as the captain took Jay Lynch with the ball for the journey in what was less of a corner, more of a scrum.

The Ammies had a chance of their own sooner after through Itela whose lung busting run put him one on one with Gould, yet the Glassboy keeper managed to parry his shot that was quickly cleared.

The youngster quickly secured a lead for Salford however, after a dazzling run by Mwasile, the winger hit a floating cross that was met with Itela’s head, it was a header no goalkeeper could keep out as it gave Salford the lead, and broke Glass hearts.

Salford City (4-2-4): J Lynch, Hulme, O’Halloran, Gumbs, Nolan, Priestley, Johnston, Clark (Morley ‘84 tactical), Itela, Seddon, Mwasile

Subs: Dootson, Stopforth, Burton, Poole

Main image: Salford City Youtube

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Oliver is an aspiring young journalist currently studying at Salford University. He covers non league football and local politics for multiple outlets.