It was only on the hour mark that Gary Neville allowed himself an embrace with David Beckham and Nicky Butt, amid euphoric celebrations in the area they’d assigned themselves high in the stand.
The third goal had just gone in at the time, sealing victory in a clash of sides owned by multi-millionaires and assigning Salford City a small piece of history as the first team to reach the Football League with back-to-back promotions.
No-one could say the stadium was bouncing before then. A partisan group of Salford fans made some serious noise but when the contestants are accelerating through the lower divisions with entrepreneurs’ cash like these two, there is simply not a fan base befitting the stage.
Salford centre back Carl Piergianni celebrates doubling the lead during the play-off final at Wembley stadium
The 27-year-old was unmarked at a corner leaving him with a free header to double the lead for Salford
Piergianni celebrates with the Ammies supporters who travelled down from the north west of England for the play-off final
Gary and Phil Neville passionately celebrate Salford’s second goal as they hug and jump around in their box at Wembley
Emmanuel Dieseruvwe got Salford off to a flying start by breaking the deadlock inside 15 minutes at Wembley
The Salford City striker wheels away in celebration after capitalising on a Danny Rowe mistake during the first half
The Salford City team run to celebrate with Dieseruvwe after he scored the opening goal in the National League play-off final
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
FYLDE: (4-2-3-1) Lynch 5.5; Burke 5 (Haughton 20 7.5), Byrne 6, Tunnicliffe 6.5, Francis-Angol 6.5; Croasdale 6.5, Philliskirk 6; Reid 5.5 (Hardy 58), Bond 5.5 (Crawford 73 6), Bradley 6.5; Rowe 6
Subs not used: Griffiths, Odusina
SALFORD CITY: (4-2-3-1) Neal 6; Pond 6, Hogan 7, Pergianni 6.5, Touray 6; Mafuta 6.5 (Rodney 54 6), Maynard 7; Wiseman 6, Redmond 7, Whitehead 6.5 (Shelton 68 6); Dieseruvwe 6.5 (Gaffney 77 6)
Subs not used: Crocombe, Walker, Rodney
Goals: Dieseruvwe (15), Piergianni (53), Touray (61)
Referee: James Oldham
MOM: Nick Haughton (Fylde)
Venue: Wembley Stadium
The attendance was 8,049. The previous lowest for this fixture in the 12 years it’s been staged here was more than 16,000.
But that won’t concern Neville or the Class of ’92 after their side — owned by Singaporean Peter Lim — continued their rapid progress with a fourth promotion in five years.
For Fylde owner — the rabid Brexiteer David Haythomthwaite — it means another setback in this years of frustrated ambitions.
He takes a more pragmatic view on reaching the Football League than on leaving the EU, it has to be said.
His target for that is 2022. The year is even stitched into the team’s jerseys.
Salford always looked likely to be the ones who would make the step, thus making it three promotions in four years.
They were without Adam Rooney – last summer’s controversial £4,000-a-week signing from Aberdeen who strained his thigh in the process of sky-ing a penalty during the shoot-out against Eastleigh which had put the side into the final.
But he was not missed against opposition who struggled to lay many punches.
It was Mani Dieseruvwe, a nomadic forward since his released by Sheffield Wednesday four years ago, who put Salford on their way after quarter of an hour.
Gary Neville (centre left), Nicky Butt (centre), David Beckham (centre right) and Phil Neville (right) talk before the game
Gary Neville (left) and Beckham (centre) and Phil Neville (right) watch on from a box at Wembley Stadium on Saturday
The 24-year-old finished coolly, slotting home right footed after Fylde’s Danny Rowe cleared a Devonte Redmond free-kick into Luke Burke and the ball squirted free.
Fylde did have their moments in a first half in which substitute Nick Haughton, on early for injured defender Luke Burke, was the most enterprising player and the axis of a give-and-go which sent Andy Bond through on goal.
They played marginally the more creative football for the first period, but when Bond missed his golden chance the favourites did not look back.
Cemented by a robust rear-guard in which Gus Mafuta, holding midfield was a particularly immovable force, they doubled their lead seven minutes after the restart when Carl Piergianni rose above the Fylde defence to deposit a Redmond corner past Jay Lynch.
Andrew Bond of Fylde shoots over the crossbar during the first half of the National League play-off clash with Salford
Nathan Pond (left) slides in and fouls Dan Bradley of Fylde during the first half of the play-off final
The third was the most spectacular — full back Ibou Touray accelerating down the left flank and delivering a speculative ball — half-shot, half cross, which looped over Lynch and went in off the far post.
It was not a performance of outstanding individual excellence from Salford, who had finished third in the National League, four points behind Leyton Orient.
But they were more clinical, stronger and gave Fylde none of the space they had hoped for to put their passing game to use on the full Wembley pitch.
There will need to be spending if the victors are to be a threat in League Two next season, though that will come from Lim, who was here. Neville is ready for the next step.
When the third goal celebrations had ended he was back on his feet, arms folded intently. He was in full embrace with Lim at the end.
Thousands of fans from both clubs made the journey to watch the two sides battle it out for a place in the Football League
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