Salford boss hoping for 'surreal' FA Cup journey to continue ahead of Hartlepool test

Ronnie Moore, Pools manager
Ronnie Moore, Pools manager

Salford City co-manager Anthony Johnson is still trying to adjust to the "surreal" level of exposure the club is getting - but more than happy for it to continue if the reason is further success.

Johnson and fellow co-boss Bernard Morley arrived at Salford in January with interest in the non-league outfit having surged due to the 2014 takeover by the 'Class of 92' quintet of ex-Manchester United players Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.

A BBC documentary chronicling their first season as co-owners was recently aired - and it shows a campaign that overall was a triumph, Salford finishing it as champions promoted from the eighth tier to the seventh.

Soon after, The Ammies were again experiencing nationally-televised success as they marked their maiden appearance in the FA Cup first round with an impressive 2-0 victory over Sky Bet League Two side Notts County.

They will be looking for something similar again on Friday when they host another fourth-tier team in Hartlepool United in round two, once more on live television.

And when asked ahead of the tie about the attention on Salford, Johnson told Press Association Sport: "It is still really surreal and a bit crazy.

"It is not normal for us - we all work full-time, and I will be driving my wagon during the day and then come to training and people want to interview me, so it is very difficult to get your head around things.

"But if you are doing well and being successful, the likelihood is the more press and exposure you are going to get, so it is great to get it."

Johnson knows that will certainly be the case if Salford see off Hartlepool and then draw a major club in round three.

"We are potentially 90 minutes away from playing a Premier League club," he said.

"It's frightening to think, but the reality is we could draw them if - and it's a big if - we beat Hartlepool. So we better start getting used to it!"

While Johnson is confident his men can spring another shock on Friday, he is doing his best to keep a sense of perspective.

"I think the best thing coming into Friday was that we got beaten last Saturday at Grantham," Johnson said.

"We had been on a great run since the last FA Cup game, and that defeat has got the lads' feet back on the ground. It has shown we are not invincible.

"The last thing we want is for people to get over-confident because of what we did to Notts County.

"We are confident of being able to get a result, provided we are at 100 per cent, like in round one. But if we are not, we're under no illusions - we could get taken to the cleaners."

Johnson, whose side are third in the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division, was sent off along with Morley for a disagreement with the referee during the 2-0 loss at Grantham, but they will be able to take their place in the dugout on Friday.

Gareth Seddon, not involved of late following a knee problem, could be fit for the game, while fellow frontman Tom Peers, on loan from Chester, is available, but midfielder Luke Clark (hamstring) is set to miss out.