Dimitar Berbatov with Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs

National League North: Dimitar Berbatov linked with deadline-day move to Salford City

DIMITAR Berbatov made a surprise appearance at Moor Lane last Saturday for SALFORD CITY’s National League North match against Stockport County.

The former £30m striker has been without a club since leaving Greek side PAOK last summer and with non-league’s deadline day just around the corner, it sparked rumours that Salford’s illustrious co-owners were set to sign their old Man United team-mate.

The 36-year-old Bulgarian posed for pictures with fans as he watched the Ammies come from behind to claim a 1-1 draw against their promotion rivals.

Salford are going for a 3rd straight promotion and bringing in Berbatov, pictured above celebrating a United goal with co-owners Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, would have been the most audacious move yet by the Class of ’92 since taking over the Ammies in 2014.

Alas, the ex-Tottenham and Fulham frontman won’t be running out for the Ammies at Boston United tomorrow. That’s because deadline day was yesterday and instead of signing Berbatov, Salford brought in Harry Panayiotou on loan from Barrow till the end of the season.

The 22-year-old forward came through the youth ranks at Leicester and came off the bench to score on his senior debut, netting a last-minute winner away to Leeds in April 2012. But he didn’t make another appearance for his hometown club and finished last season with Scottish side Raith Rovers.

The St Kitts & Nevis international then signed a 2-year deal with Barrow last summer but has only made a handful of appearances for the National League side, with his last game coming as a sub earlier this month.

Panayiotou’s arrival is another boost to the Salford squad after last week’s addition of centre-half Fraser Horsfall. And the Ammies could do with a lift after needing to fight back for 1-1 draws at home to both Stockport and Chorley.

While Michael Nottingham’s stoppage-time equaliser stopped Chorley leapfrogging Salford on Tuesday night, Kidderminster also struck in stoppage time to win 4-3 at Tamworth and go 2nd above the Ammies.

“Ignoring the tactical jargon, we were rubbish,” admitted joint Salford manager Anthony Johnson. “We didn’t deserve anything from the game, but we put a 6ft 5 right-back up front, he chased a lost cause and stuck it in.

“There’s 7 games to go and we’ve been excellent all season. In my opinion, the last time we played like that was the FA Trophy game at home against Harrogate Town, when we got spanked (3-0 in December), and if Chorley had taken their chances it could have been the same again. There was a lot wrong with us but I ain’t going to start over-analysing things. We’ll try to find the reasons and get it right before we go to Boston.

Top of the National League North
Top of the National League North

“The last 3 games we’ve played sides around us. We won at Brackley and you can maybe rule them out of it now, then we’ve drawn with Stockport and Chorley so they haven’t gained any ground on us. It shows that we’ve got that resilience and can match it against the sides around us.”

CURZON ASHTON and FC UNITED are separated by one point in the middle of the table but both could have a say on the play-off race tomorrow as the Nash visit Chorley while FC host 5th-placed Halifax. The Nash and FC then meet on Monday at Curzon’s Tameside Stadium (7.45pm kick-off).

Tickets are now on sale for the Frank Hannah Manchester Premier Cup final, which is between FC United and league rivals Stalybridge Celtic on Thursday, May 4 at Oldham Athletic’s ground. Advance tickets cost: £8 adults; £5 OAPs, 16-21 & Students; £1 Under-16s (on the night: £10; £7; £3) and are available at Stalybridge or by clicking here for the Manchester FA website.

The dates for the play-offs were also confirmed this week and are like so:
Semi-Final 1st leg – Wednesday, May 3: 5th v 2nd, 4th v 3rd (7.45pm kick-off).
Semi-Final 2nd leg – Sunday, May 7: 2nd v 5th, 3rd v 4th (3pm kick-off).
Promotion Final – Saturday, May 13: hosted by team which finished highest in the league (3pm).