After that stellar victory over league leaders Salford last week, York City will now travel to Curzon Ashton looking for back-to-back victories on Saturday.

Curzon Ashton vs York City

Tameside Stadium

Feb 17th 2018, 3pm KO

It was a massive win and a fantastic occasion last week, and with 12 games remaining in the league, there is now a real feeling of optimism in City’s promotion charge.

The Minstermen will be hoping for a better result than last time they crossed the pennines.

The 2-0 loss to Stockport at the end of January is now well in the back of everyone’s minds, and City will be confident on returning from Greater Manchester with three points this time around.

Curzon will be no pushovers though. The Nash are coming off the back of a 3-0 midweek away win at Telford United and will be in high spirits come kickoff at the Tameside Stadium.

National League North Table

Scroll horizontally to see all the info

 TeamPlWDLFAGDPts
1Salford City29194650292161
2Harrogate Town29185669363359
3Brackley Town291510451272455
4Kidderminster Harriers281310551302149
5Blyth Spartans301611364491549
6York City30147955431249
7Spennymoor Town26146652401248
8Bradford P A291271048341443
9Chorley29101183227541
10Stockport County28117105243940
11Boston United28116114848039
12FC United of Manchester30107134554-937
13Alfreton Town29113154747036
14Darlington3099124145-436
15Tamworth30106144253-1136
16Southport2998124054-1435
17Curzon Ashton29810113746-934
18Nuneaton2896133544-933
19Leamington3088144150-932
20Gainsborough Trinity2994163257-2531
21AFC Telford United2793153649-1330
22North Ferriby Utd3016231477-639

York City preview

Competition is strong

Everything is falling into place for the gaffer. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

York City manager Martin Gray this week made his 7th, 8th and 9th signings since becoming boss back in October. In doing so, he has given himself a well needed selection headache.

Despite his side sweeping aside Salford last week, Gray feels that Curzon Ashton will be a much bigger game for testing the squad’s strength of character.

Gray has now got an extra striker and a defender in Alex Kempster and Marcus Williams to provide food for thought in his team selection for Saturday.

City’s current front two, Raul Correia and Jon Parkin, have only scored one goal between them in the last 5 games.

Kempster had an excellent scoring record for Whitley Bay, despite the difference in playing standards, and is expected keep the first choice attackers hot on their heels for starting positions.

The manager is keeping his cards close to his chest ahead of Saturday, and has warned his players that they will only play if they meet the high standards expected of them:

I thought last week’s performance and the additions to the squad this week has come at the right time and hopefully, we will reap the rewards.

There is great competition for places now. As a manager you look at your bench and we have the right personnel there to come off the bench and make a real impact.

It’s about who is performing right in training. The lads trying to get into the team have got to maintain the high standards.

The week before, Connor Smith started at Tamworth and was not even in the squad for Salford, so no one is guaranteed a place, you’ve got to earn the right to play.

Martin Gray

Best school holidays ever…

Alex Kempster. Photograph: York City Photography

Just a week ago, 22-year-old Alex Kempster was balancing his career as a P.E. teacher and a bar job with part-time football for Whitley Bay.

A week later, and he is now pushing for a place in Martin Gray’s travelling squad to Curzon Ashton as a full time professional footballer.

Safe to say scoring a hat-trick in your one and only trial for a pro football team, is a very successful trial indeed.

Kempster told the media on Thursday (Feb 15th) that he ‘had to thank the half term holidays’ for being able to take part in the 5-2 reserve victory over Hartlepool in midweek:

“It’s been a massive whirlwind. The reason I came down was thanks to the half term holidays, so I could take the time off from being a P.E teacher! So it’s been a massive whirlwind. I’m really happy to be here”

“Funny enough I rang them (Work) yesterday, and they said I usually have to give a couple of weeks notice to leave, but they let me off on these circumstances!”

“Now I can give all my attention to the football. It’s a big game on the weekend, whether I play or not, I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Alex Kempster

Williams Craving promotion

Williams ready to take York to the next level. Photograph © York City Photography

It’s a very different story for new left-back Marcus Williams. Just 2 years ago, Williams was playing in front of home crowds of 70,000 fans for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League, and facing up against the likes of Roberto Carlos.

Fast forward to present times, and the 31-year-old is preparing to play in front a few hundred fans on a cold Saturday afternoon at Curzon Ashton.

The former Scunthorpe and Sheffield United defender knows what it’s like to be in a team pushing for promotion from his Football League career.

Doncaster Born Williams told YorkMix on Thursday that he has not come to sit around despite David Ferguson being the first choice left-back at the moment.

The main aim is to get promoted here, I’m use to the promotion scrap from my time at Scunthorpe and Sheff United. I know what’s required and I know what’s needed.

It’s a good set of lads here, they train hard and work well and I think it is important for now that we take each game as it comes and get the job done.

I didn’t come to sit here, I came to play. I will give it 110% and do what I can to add that extra bit of quality for promotion.

Marcus Williams

Curzon Ashton preview

Curzon will be aiming to double up on York this weekend. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography
Curzon Ashton FC
Founded: 1963
Stadium: Tameside Stadium
Capacity: 4,000 (524 seated)
Nickname: The Nash
Colours: All blue
Manager: John Flanagan
League Position: 17th
Top Scorer: Niall Cummins (12)

Formed in 1963, part-timers Curzon Ashton are a club that have always lingered around the lower northern regional leagues.

However, the last few years have seen some of the most successful times in the club’s history.

Soon after current manager John Flanagan took charge of the Nash in 2012, the club achieved back-to-back promotions and are now playing at the highest level they’ve ever played.

Flanagan is now the most successful manager the club has ever had, after guiding them to two promotions, a losing play-off final, two cup finals and their joint best FA Cup finish – knocking out York along the way to reaching the second round.

Success has been hard to come by this season though. 8 wins from a possible 29 has left Ashton sitting only three points outside the bottom three in 17th.

Despite the recent revival of picking up four points from the last two games, including an impressive 3-0 win away at Telford in midweek, the Nash haven’t won a home game since October 21st.

Man to watch: Niall Cummins

Described as an all-round striker, Niall Cummins is one of the league’s top scorers with 12 goals to his name so far.

Entering his fifth season with the club, the 24-year-old cult hero is best known for scoring a last minute headed winner against Harrogate Railway to clinch the Evo-Stik North title three years ago.

The striker ended his one month goal drought after scoring in Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Telford and will fancy himself to score again against a City defence that hasn’t kept an away clean sheet since mid August.

Opta stats

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Last time out: Two first half goals from Jon Parkin and Dan Parslow sealed a 2-1 victory over Curzon Ashton in the first ever league meeting between the two sides back in November.

Before this season, the two sides have only met each other on two other occasions – in two FA Cup ties last season. After a 1-1 first leg draw at Bootham Crescent, Curzon beat City 2-1 in the replay thanks a 51st minute Niall Cummins winner to send the Nash through to the first round proper.

Curzon have only conceded three more goals (46) than City (43) this season, despite there being 11 places separating the two sides in the league.

Curzon have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 7 home matches, but have only failed to score twice at home all season. City meanwhile have conceded in each of their last 13 away matches, but have only failed to score on three occasions away from home all season.

Higgs Predicts

If City always performed like they did against Salford, they would beat everyone in this league.

On paper, the Minstermen should wipe the floor with Saturday’s opponents. However, we all know that City have it in them to disappoint when they are expected to win. Based on stats, I would expect goals in the game given that both have prolific attack and leaky defence records at home and away respectively.

With the amount of attacking options that City have now, and a defence that has performed better than it has all season recently, I don’t see why they wont come away with the three points on Saturday.

Higgs Predicts: Curzon Ashton 1-3 York City