29 April 2023

Neil Wood won’t play for a point next week as Salford close in on play-off place

29 April 2023

Salford boss Neil Wood is delighted his side’s play-off fate is in their own hands heading into the last game of the League Two season after a huge 3-2 win at Carlisle.

Luke Bolton’s stunning late strike earned the visitors a victory that leaves them needing just a point when they host Gillingham next weekend to secure a top-seven finish.

First-half efforts from Callum Hendry and Bolton put the visitors 2-0 up, but Joe Garner grabbed one back with 13 minutes to go.

Carlisle won a penalty which was eventually scored by Kristian Dennis, but before it was taken United’s Jon Mellish was given his marching orders for an apparent push in the face of Elliot Watt.

And there was time for Bolton to steal the spoils with his 88th-minute effort.

Wood said: “We’ve put ourselves into a much better position by winning this game than if we drew or lost.

“We have to be confident with the position we’re in. We’ll prepare to win the game, we won’t go out there and try to get a point. That’s not quite us.

“If you’d offered us this at the start of the season – one point, in our own hands with a home game on the last day of the season – we’d have taken that.

“It was an important game for both teams and it’s an important win for us.

“They scored and the place started to lift. They’ve got a lot of fans here and they’re a good team so you have to keep them credit.

“The winning goal was a goal that deserved to win any game.”

Despite the defeat, Carlisle are in a strong position to reach the play-offs.

Even if they lose at Sutton in the final game, they would need Mansfield to overturn a massive eight-goal swing to overtake them.

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson called on his side to “finish the job”.

He said: “I’m delighted what this group has done for 45 games, but we are not guaranteed to be in the play-offs.

“You saw it last season when Bristol Rovers smashed how many goals they did on the last day of the season – and Northampton missed out as a result.

“We won’t take anything for granted. We have to finish it.

“We’ll prepare properly this week for our game against Sutton. But if we’re not good enough to go to Sutton and get the right result – and an eight-goal swing does happen – then the truth is we don’t deserve to be in the play-offs.

“We can say it’s been a good season, but it will be disappointing if it falls away.

“We have to review this game, put it to bed and get ourselves ready for a massive challenge at Sutton.”

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