Neil Wood pleased to be ahead but knows Salford have work to do at Stockport
Salford boss Neil Wood knows his team “still have a job to do” after they beat Stockport 1-0 in the League Two play-off semi-final first leg at the Peninsula Stadium.
Experienced striker Matt Smith bagged the decisive goal in the first half to hand the Ammies a slender lead ahead of next Saturday’s second clash back at Edgeley Park.
Wood said: “I guess I’m pleased with a 1-0, although it probably could and should have been more than that.
“We had two or three other good chances which we should have stuck away, so it’s possibly a bit frustrating we didn’t capitalise a bit more.
“I’m pleased with the way we played tonight, but it certainly won’t be an easy task for us next weekend.
“We’re looking forward to it and the lads definitely won’t be phased by playing in front of a big crowd over there.
“We’ve still got a job to do, but this team is learning all the time and we’ll go to Stockport with no fear.”
Wood went on to salute former Leeds, Fulham and Millwall hit-man Smith, whose predatory goal was his 12th of the season.
“He’s got that big-match experience,” added Wood.
“You certainly see the best of him in those kind of situations.
“It was a quality assist, a really good delivery from the cross and once it feel to Smudge I felt confident he’d stick his chance away.”
Salford dominated the opening 45 minutes at the Peninsula Stadium, but Stockport restricted them to just the one-goal advantage by the interval.
Smith struck the decisive effort after 16 minutes as he headed home Elliot Watt’s out-swinging cross.
Although the visitors rallied somewhat after the restart, they struggled to create anything clear-cut and Salford hung on to their slender advantage without too much difficulty.
This was a first loss since February for Stockport and their boss Dave Challinor remains confident ahead of the second leg.
He said: “We’ll take on the second leg in the same attacking way we have done throughout the season.
“We’ve been very consistent all the way through and we’ve ground out some big results when we’ve needed to.
“I think it’s 10 times we’ve won by two goals or more this season so far, so we’ve got to go and do that again now.
“This just goes to show how close this league is, though.
“I think all the four teams in the play-offs are so evenly matched, so that means whoever wins the big prize, it’s going to be fine margins.
“It was a close game tonight, a really edgy game at times, but it was important for us that we leave here tonight still very much in the tie.
“We now know exactly what we need to do next Saturday, and the lads have got the belief that we can get through to Wembley.
“It’s going to be a brilliant atmosphere at Edgeley Park, so it’s up to us now to get the job done.”