Two former Football League talismen will meet on tonight (January 16) when York City travel to Telford United.
Telford United vs York City, New Bucks Head stadium
16th Jan 2018, 7.45pm KO
We all know how prolific big Jon Parkin has been throughout his career. The 36-year-old has 100 Football League goals to his name and 24 goals for the Minstermen so far this season.
However, City’s Tuesday night opponents have a big name striker of their own – 31-year-old Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
The former Wolves and Plymouth Argyle hitman, with 97 football league goals to his name, signed for the Bucks in November and will be looking to out shine fellow veteran Parkin when the two sides meet on Tuesday.
City are looking for their fourth win on the bounce in Shropshire, after Saturday’s 2-1 home victory over Bradford Park Avenue sprung the Minstermen back into the playoffs for the first time since early December.
This is City’s game in hand, after the original fixture was called off in December and a win would see City jump to fourth position – five points clear in the playoffs.
York City team news
Sporting director Dave Penney confirmed on Monday that ex-Captain Simon Heslop will be included in the travelling squad on Tuesday night.
Heslop has not played for the club since the 3-2 home defeat to Tamworth back in October. He was later sent on loan to National League side Eastleigh after the player said he never wanted to play for York again.
The 30-year-old midfielder impressed at the Hampshire club, but refused an extended loan deal in December, meaning the player has been stuck in limbo for nearly a month now.
However, with City short on midfield options after Sean McAllister and Alex Pattison returned to their parent clubs, it seems that manager Martin Gray has had no option but to include the controversial player to provide desperate cover in central midfield.
City manager Martin Gray may look to change the squad that started against Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday.
The introduction of new striker Raul Correia into the starting line-up brought with it a change in formation. Gray opted with a 4-4-2, dropping Morgan-Smith out of a front three for Dan Rowe, who came in on the right flank.
However, a clear lack attacking sting came to the fore with the change of formation, but that changed dramatically after the introduction of Morgan-Smith in the second half.
The 28-year-old attacker was a constant threat in a front three with Parkin and Correia for City, and his impressive performance was rewarded with a goal when City needed it the most.
So will City opt to start with the side that finished against BPA? or will Gray prefer to keep Morgan-Smith as an impact player from the bench? Either way, it will give Gray food for thought ahead of what may be difficult occasion in Shropshire.
Telford United preview
Founded: 1872 (reformed 2004)
Stadium: New Bucks Head stadium
Capacity: 6,380 (2,200 seated)
Nickname: The Bucks
Manager: Rob Edwards
League Position: 12th
Top Scorer: Marcus Dinanga (7)
A.F.C Telford United have an interesting history, in that they barely have one.
The Shropshire side reformed after the pre-existing Telford United folded back in 2004. Telford have since spent most of their existence in the National League North, after starting out in the 7th tier back in 2004.
Between 2011 and 2014 the club did earn consecutive promotions and relegations to and from the National League, but are back in the 6th tier now after failing to stay up for longer than a year in the 5th division.
Current manager Rob Edwards is the club’s 10th managerial appointment in 13 years.
Edwards, 34, only retired as a player back in 2013, before taking his first professional managerial job as interim boss at Wolverhampton Wanderers last season.
The former Wolves and Aston Villa defender took over the reins at Telford in the summer of 2017.
However, he has found consistency hard to come by at the club and the Bucks now sit just one point above the drop zone, after failing to win a game since the 21st of November.
Edwards’ men were humbled 3-0 to table toppers Salford United in the last game, failing to score for the third game in a row. They have now only managed one league goal – in a 1-1 draw with Brackley Town – since their 2-0 win over Tamworth in November.
Speaking after that game, Edwards was keen to take the positives from Salford into Tuesday’s match. Despite the poor form, he feels the York game will be a ‘winnable’ one for the Bucks.
On the whole, there was a lot of good things that we have to take into Tuesday.
Every team is strong at this level and all have their different threats. With them, you know they’ve got Jon Parkin and a lot of others as well.
I think it will be a really tough game, but one that we know – if we can perform like we can do – will be a winnable one.
– Rob Edwards
Last time out: City got off to a disappointing start to the season with a 1-0 defeat against Telford at Bootham Crescent. Matthew Barnes-Homer scored the decisive goal for the Bucks.
Since Telford’s reformation, the two sides have played each other 5 times, with City winning two, losing two and drawing one.
The last time York beat Telford was back in the FA Trophy semi-final second leg back in 2009. City won the game 2-1 at Bootham Crescent to go through to the final, with Richard Brodie and Daniel McBreen getting the goals for the Minstermen. York lost 2-0 in the final against Stevenage at Wembley.
York have yet to beat Telford in a league match. The only other time they’ve been in the same league was in the promotion winning 2011/2012 season in the Blue Square Premier. That year York lost 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 away with the Bucks.
Telford’s precarious position must not be taken lightly ahead of this one.
Apart from the 0-0 draw with Kidderminster on Boxing day, the stags have scored in every home game since early August. They seem a much bigger threat at home, so City need to step up to the plate come Tuesday evening. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and top scorer Marcus Dinanga will be a handful for City’s back-line and their resillience will be tested more so than it was on Saturday.
Despite the positive run of form for City… A long trip to Shropshire on a cold Tuesday night… I’m going for a draw!
Higgs Predicts: Telford United 1-1 York City