Worcester City 1 Salford City 2

WORCESTER City’s long-standing status as a National League North club is hanging by a thread.

For 32 years Worcester have graced English football’s sixth tier.

But that proud record will come to an end next Saturday if relegation rivals Gainsborough Trinity win at FC United of Manchester United.

It is a perilous position for City to be in going into the final day of the season, especially as they will need to beat champions AFC Fylde at Mill Farm to give themselves the best chance of survival.

But that’s the reality of the situation and one Worcester will have to face up to after suffering a gut-wrenching late defeat to 10-man Salford City on Saturday.

With Gainsborough drawing 1-1 with Kidderminster Harriers a point would have been enough to keep John Snape’s men out of the drop zone due to their superior goal difference.

But with four minutes left substitute Nick Houghton nutmegged Jordan Keane and played a one-two with Jordan Hulme before firing low past Nathan Vaughan.

It was a hammer blow for Worcester who got back on level terms thanks to a fine Jordan Murphy header on 59 minutes after Salford’s James Poole was given his marching orders.

Judging by the players’ crestfallen reaction to Houghton’s winner this will be tough to get over as they now find themselves in the bottom three, one point behind Gainsborough with one game to play.

Once again there was no shortage of effort given by the men in blue and white with Murphy buzzing around up front and Cieron Keane working tirelessly down the left.

But for the 13th time this season City lost by the narrowest of margins in the league and will feel they let chances go begging.

Junior English is not a natural striker but with his right leg strapped up the 31-year-old gives his all and hit the bar with a lofted effort on 12 minutes.

Moments before that Vaughan palmed away a Simon Grand header from a corner and the visitors were doing most of the pressing.

Aiming to secure their place in the play-offs Salford opened the scoring on 36 minutes.

Graham Hutchison got his head to Scott Burton’s deep cross but the ball looped up in the air for an unmarked Mike Phenix to volley home.

The Greater Manchester side were in the ascendancy but suffered a setback just before the break.

After getting booked for a foul on Ebby Nelson-Addy Poole was brandished a second yellow card 10 minutes later for needlessly kicking the ball away.

It was exactly what City needed especially with Gainsborough leading Harriers at half-time and after a couple of efforts they got the equaliser.

Tom Sharpe, who came on for the injured James Chambers, delivered a pin-point cross for Murphy who headed beyond the reach of Jay Lynch for his seventh goal of the campaign.

Vaughan turned behind a Sam Walker free-kick before Worcester created a glorious chance to go in front on 73 minutes.

Cieron Keane presented the ball on a plate for English with a great delivery but the former Solihull Moors stalwart fired straight at Lynch.

It was a big moment in the match and cost City dear as Houghton netted late on to secure all three points for Salford.