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Salford City
League Two | 1st Leg
May 13, 2023 at 7.45pm UK
The Peninsula Stadium
Stockport County
Salford City
1 - 0
Smith (17')
Watt (28')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Salford City vs. Stockport County - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's League Two clash between Salford City and Stockport County, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Salford City take on Stockport County at the Peninsula Stadium on Saturday afternoon, in the first leg of their League Two playoff semi-final.

The Ammies are attempting to reach the third tier of English football for the first time in their history, while the Hatters could return to League One for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Match preview

Gary Neville pictured in January 2020© Reuters

Salford secured the highest finish in their history during the regular season, amassing 75 points, which meant they finished in seventh place, ahead of Mansfield Town courtesy of their marginally better defensive record.

The Ammies just about scraped into the playoffs, as they did not make things easy for themselves on the final day of the season, losing 1-0 at home against Gillingham in a match where they never really looked like scoring.

That said, Neil Wood's side have chalked up some very impressive victories in recent weeks, defeating fifth-placed Carlisle United 3-2 on the road courtesy of Luke Bolton's late winner, also beating Walsall by the same scoreline after a 97th-minute Matthew Lund goal.

One concern Wood may have heading into the home leg of their playoff semi-final is that his side have struggled at the Peninsula Stadium all season, picking up just 35 points from 23 games on home soil, the 14th-best record in the fourth tier.

Salford have lost three of their last four games at home, with the solitary victory coming against 23rd-placed Hartlepool United, which does not bode well heading into a game of this magnitude, against quality opposition.

Stockport County's Paddy Madden celebrates scoring their first goal on January 8, 2023© Reuters

Indeed, Stockport were very impressive during the regular season, particularly in the second half of the campaign, picking up 48 points in their last 25 matches, five more than any other team in the league managed during that time period.

The Hatters came close to securing automatic promotion, and they still had a chance of finishing third on the final day, but they were unable to beat Hartlepool at home, although Northampton Town winning away at Tranmere Rovers meant three points would not have been enough anyway.

Manager Dave Challinor will still be content with a fourth-placed finish in the club's first season back in the EFL, and he will be hoping his players can continue their fantastic form into the playoffs, having lost just one of their last 20 League Two matches.

Stockport were undefeated against Salford during the regular season, drawing 1-1 at home in the most recent encounter at the end of March and winning 2-0 at the Peninsula Stadium back in October, courtesy of goals from Will Collar and Paddy Madden.

Salford City League Two form:

Stockport County League Two form:

Team News

Stockport County manager Dave Challinor pictured on August 23, 2022© Reuters

Salford have been without long-term absentees Richard Nartey and Ryan Watson since March, but while they are the only players unavailable for the hosts on Saturday, Wood may choose to make a few changes.

With the Ammies looking very poor on the front foot against Gillingham, Conor McAleny could be brought into the attack, replacing Matt Smith, who has scored just one goal in his last six games.

Lund has been impressive after coming off the bench in recent weeks, and the midfielder could replace Stephen Mallan in the starting lineup.

As for Stockport, Challinor could give the nod to the more experienced head of Madden in attack, given that Jack Stretton is now without a goal in his last five games, with Isaac Olaofe also likely to feature.

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans has done well as a substitute recently, scoring two goals in his last four games, while he also scored against Salford at the end of March, and the central midfielder will be battling Myles Hippolyte for a place in the starting lineup.

Salford City possible starting lineup:
Cairns; Shephard, Vassell, Mariappa, Touray; Mallan, Watt, Bolton, Barry; Hendry, McAleny

Stockport County possible starting lineup:
Hinchcliffe; Wright, Horsfall, Lewis; Hussey, Camps, Crossdale, Lemonheigh-Evans, Knoyle; Madden, Stretton

SM words green background

We say: Salford City 0-1 Stockport County

Stockport were by far and away the best team in League Two in the second half of the season, and they were only denied automatic promotion because of a very slow start, as they readjusted to life back in the EFL.

Not only that, but Salford were very poor at home all season, most recently putting in a disappointing performance against Gillingham in an important game, so it is likely the visitors emerge with a narrow victory.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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