York City will travel to Gainsborough knowing that a win is an absolute imperative for their playoff chances.

Gainsborough Trinity vs York City

The Northolme Stadium

Apr 14th 2018, 3pm KO

It’s fair to say this week has been one to forget in the history of York City. Back to back defeats to Harrogate and Nuneaton have left them clinging on for dear life to their precious playoff position.

They could have dropped out on Tuesday if Chorley’s match with Leamington went ahead, but now the Lancashire side have two games in hand and need just two points to steal York’s seat in the top seven.

City will now visit second bottom Gainsborough Trinity, who are fighting for their lives in the bottom three and will also be desperate for the points on Saturday.

Trinity have only won three of their last 12 matches, losing the rest. However, all three of those wins came against sides in the top 8, the most recent of which saw them beat Spennymoor Town 4-1.

The club are hopeful that striker Alex Kempster and Simon Heslop will both make returns on Saturday.

Kempster has been out with a hamstring injury leaving City’s striking options limited, while Simon Heslop picked up a knock before Tuesday’s defeat.

City will still be without star players Louis Almond, Jon Parkin and Alex Pattison as they all continue on their respective roads to recovery.

York City preview

Gray ‘is here to stay’

Dave Penney insists the manager is going nowhere. Photograph: Antony Higgs

Sporting director Dave Penney had a lot to say as he stepped in on media duties for the second week running.

Some fans feel a management change is a necessity at the end of the campaign.

Martin Gray is currently contracted at York City until the end of next season, but with rumours spinning that he may leave the club for the vacant role at Hartlepool United, some speculate that the end could be nigh for the City manager.

However, Penney’s opinion is that the club have chopped and changed managers for too long and he is sure that Gray will remain City’s boss until the end of his contract.

When we asked Penney if Gray would be at risk of losing his job should York miss out on the playoffs, he replied:

No I wouldn’t thinks so, he’s under contract until the end of next season, so nothing changes with that.

We’re trying to build as a club, I think personally from my point of view there has been too many chopping and changing of managers half way through seasons.

Jackie (McNamara) left, and then Gary (Mills) came in, and now Martin’s here. So in terms of recruitment, it always ends up happening during a season and you end up with something like four teams in two seasons, which costs the chairman a fortune.

I would like to think we need a bit of continuity. Martin is a hard worker and he has the history of getting winning teams and getting promotion so, in my opinion we should stick with him.

Return of Kempster?

Could Kempster return from injury to fire York towards the playoffs on Saturday? Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

Tuesday night’s defeat was another example of just how damaging the current injury list is for York’s goal threat as a team.

The manager opted for James Gray in a front three with Connolly and Smith, but they failed to land a single shot on target all match.

The only positive was the introduction of 16-year-old Vinny Steels from the bench. In the final few minutes, the youngster twice made mince meat out of Nuneaton’s full back and put two dangerous balls into the box.

Steels and 17-year-old Flnn McNaughton both played for the reserves in a 1-1 draw against Grimsby on Tuesday, but Penney confirmed that they will both be on the bench for Saturday’s crucial game.

Penney doesn’t believe there is a right or wrong time to bring young players into a pressurised senior environment.

He feels the re-introduction of Kempster and midfielder Simon Heslop into the team will provide a bigger attacking threat this weekend, saying:

Young Alex has trained today so that’s good news. He’s a physical presence that we have missed up top, and he’s a good player too.

Simon Heslop is back too and that just gives us a bit of freshness that wasn’t there on Tuesday. It’s important that we get something up the pitch that helps the rest of the team on Saturday.

There is pressure for the young lads, but sometimes I don’t think they realise it. They are fresh and just starting to make their way in the game, and it’s all part of their learning.

So there is no right or wrong time, but we have to gage them and if they are doing well, we’re not afraid to stick them in and see how they do.

Gainsborough Trinity preview

Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography
Gainsborough Trinity
Founded: 1873
Stadium: The Northolme
Capacity: 4,340 (504 seated)
Nickname: Trinity, The Holy Blues
Colours: All blue
Manager: Lee Sinnott
League Position: 21st
Top Scorer: Nathan Jarman (8)

Gainsborough Trinity are one of the country’s oldest football clubs and represent one of the smallest towns to have ever played in the Football League.

In more present times, the club are battling against relegation from the National League North for a second season in a row, after narrowly avoiding the drop last time out.

They are currently second bottom and six points from safety, having conceded the second most amount of goals (70) and scored the second least amount of goals (40) this season.

The club sacked manager Dave Frecklington and replaced him with former Port Vale manager and Bradford City defender Lee Sinnott in February, but the new gaffer has only managed to pick up 2 wins in his 9 games in charge so far.

However, both of those wins came at home against two of the divisions best teams this year in Kidderminster and Spennymoor, and 9 of Trinity’s 11 games won this season were all achieved on home soil.

Trinity are clearly a much more confident side on their own patch, and know that they will need to win their last two home games as a minimum if they are to keep their slim hopes of survival alive.

Speaking after their 2-0 defeat to Curzon Ashton on Wednesday night, Sinnott pointed out that his side can’t keep relying on home form to save them from danger. He said:

We need to do something away. We can’t just rely on our home results because with 2 home games left that’s just six points, which isn’t enough.

We need to do something consistently in the last four games that we haven’t managed to do so far.

The points are still there to play for, but it’s coming down to the wire now. It was so important to get a result tonight, and that’s the frustrating part of it.

Lee Sinnott

Man to watch: Nicky Walker

Former Boston winger Nicky Walker came to Gainsborough at the end of February and didn’t take long to make an immediate impact at the Northolme.

The rapid wide man scored the winner against high flyers Kidderminster Harriers on his debut for the club, and assisted three of Gainsborough’s four goals in the win against Spennymoor.

Walker has been one of the most creative figures on the left of Gainsborough’s attacking line since joining. The 23-year-old is a dangerous set piece taker and on his day, would give any full back a hard time in this league. Whether it be Connor Brown or Josh Law that faces up to him, they are in for a tricky contest.

H2H stats

Last time out: Josh Law scored his first goal for York in a frustrating Tuesday night for the Minstermen, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Gainsborough at Bootham Crescent.

City surrounded Gainsborough’s goal for much of the game, but were punished for not taking their chances when Jonathan Wafula headed Trinity in front in the 68th minute. However, City were back on level terms seven minutes later when Law found the net with an angled drive and that’s the way it stayed.

The only recorded competitive meeting between the two sides at The Northolme came in the FA Cup 4th qualifying round back in 2005.

Two goals including a penalty from Andy Bishop, a wonderful solo goal from Clayton Donaldson and a Mark Convey strike four minutes from time sealed a 4-0 win for City. They later bowed out in the first round, after a 3-0 home defeat to Grays Athletic.

Since January 20th, Gainsborough have actually won more games (4) than City (3). However, Trinity have lost all of the rest of their games since then, while City have picked up four draws and five defeats.

In their last eight matches, Gainsborough have conceded one less goal (12) than City have (13). In that time, the two sides also have the exact same goal scoring record (9 goals each).

Higgs Predicts

Tuesday night was about as much use as a chocolate fire guard for York’s playoff hopes.

Something has to change and fast or City will definitely be playing regional football for at least another year. It is clear to see that the limited attacking options is the biggest problem, but particularly from City’s more experienced players, there must be a bigger desire to score goals in these last four matches.

Gainsborough are fighting for their lives, and with a decent home record behind them, there is no reason why they can’t inflict another damaging defeat on York this weekend.

Saying that, the proposed introduction of Alex Kempster back in the team will hopefully give City a better goal threat. I can see another tight affair for this one, but just imagine for a second that City score another last minute winner from an unlikely source… I’m banking on it.

Higgs predicts: Gainsborough Trinity 1-2 York City