Salford City’s stunning ascent from non-league minnows to established EFL side does not sit well with everyone, but Cobblers boss Keith Curle only has respect for Saturday’s ‘phenomenal’ opponents.
Salford finished 12th in Division One North of the Northern Premier League – tier eight of English football – when the Class of 92, led by Gary Neville and Paul Scholes among others, completed their takeover in 2014.
The Ammies have been on the up ever since, winning three promotions in four years prior to their victory over AFC Fylde in the National League play-off final at Wembley last May.
That took Salford into the EFL for the first time in the club’s history and their maiden League Two season has largely been a positive one, currently 12th under the guidance of ex-Scunthorpe boss Graham Alexander.
“I think they’ve done absolutely phenomenally,” said Curle. “Having financial investment and famous owners at a football club doesn’t win you promotions.
“What you do on the pitch gets you promotions and with what they’ve had off the field comes added pressure as well so I think their rise through the ranks is phenomenal.”
Positive results against Bradford, Crewe and Oldham either side of Christmas had taken Salford to within touching distance of the play-offs, however they go into Saturday’s game on the back of successive league defeats to Grimsby and Walsall.
Alexander’s men are seven points behind the Cobblers having played a game more, though they did beat Port Vale 3-0 in the Leasing.com Trophy on Tuesday night.
Curle added: “It’ll be a difficult game because they’ve got some very good players in their ranks and they’ve recruited very well.
“They’ve got a number of options and a number of different ways they can play
“They’ve had a little bit of an up-and-down season as they adjust to League Two but that’s understandable
“On their day they can be very competitive but we’ll have a gameplan and it’s about us playing our game by nullifying their strengths and exploiting the weaknesses.”