No time to rest this week, as York City prepare for a quick turn around and head south to face playoff rivals Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday night (Mar 13th).
Mar 13th 2018, 7.45pm KO
The Minstermen earned a hard fought 1-0 victory over Boston United at the weekend, but now face a totally different challenge in beating an out of form Harriers.
Kiddy have proven to be tricky opponents for York this season, having already played and failed to beat them twice in a 1-1 home draw in the league and a 2-1 away defeat in the FA Trophy.
City will have a fully fit squad and some, with the return of top scorer Jon Parkin, while Simon Heslop’s suspension for his red card received on Saturday will not be effective until the weekend fixture at home to Southport.
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York City preview
Gray has a gameplan
If there is one thing that York City manager Martin Gray craves the most, it’s clean sheets. The manager feels that there needs to be more of them if York are going to be real contenders come the end of the season.
The all hands-on deck second half display in the victory over Boston, is everything that Gray wants to see from his team at this vital stage of the season.
The success behind the 3-4-1-2 system only came into fruition in that half, but Gray has warned that regardless of the game plan, the disciplined mentality to grind out 1-0 victories needs to be there from the get go.
Gray wants a repeat of second half display in the FA Trophy defeat at Kidderminster, which he described as ‘the best footballing performance’ he’s seen from his side.
I’ve seen the best of Kidderminster, and if you allow them to do what they’re good at, they’ll cause you problems.
We will have a game plan and we are well aware of their strengths, we’ve got to make sure that we’re solid and stay in the game.
We were beaten down there in the Trophy, but the second half was probably our best footballing performance, and this time we’ve got to make sure that we are disciplined, make ourselves hard to beat and be aggressive in our play.
To win 1-0 with three at the back gives us confidence, especially when you work so hard preparing the players for it.
Second half, we saw what we prepared, but we’ve got to make sure that whatever formation we go with, we see a constant mentality to win games 1-0, 2-0, and be much more defensively stronger than we have been.
The return of the beast
With City facing one of their toughest challenges of the season, there is no better time to welcome back their 25-goal top scorer.
Jon Parkin will return to the squad after serving his three-game ban for a red card in the defeat to Curzon Ashton, and it looks like Martin Gray is throwing him straight into the first 11 against Kiddy.
The 36-year-old has had time to focus on his podcasting career recently, after the first two episodes of undr the cosh co-hosted by the big man, aired on soundcloud in the last two weeks.
However, the veteran striker will now focus on doing his talking on the pitch as York enter their last nine games and Gray is hoping to reap the benefits from having his talisman back.
“Jon will come straight back into the team, there’s no question about that. He is essential to what we’re doing, we’re missing his goals and he will go straight back into the starting line-up,” the manager said.
“Bringing him back into the team will also bring a different dimension to our attacking creativity.
“Whoever starts alongside him, we’ve got to have energy around him, and if we have that and stay solid at the back, Jon will be a massive part of what we’re trying to do.”
Kidderminster Harriers preview
Stadium: Aggborough Stadium
Capacity: 6,444 (3,140 seated)
Nickname: Kiddy, Harriers
Colours: Red and White
Manager: John Eustace
League Position: 6th
Top Scorer: Joe Ironside (18)
Described as the best team York have played by City manager Martin Gray, Kidderminster have been one of the most dangerous teams in the league this season.
They have conceded the third least goals in the league (35) and have a front three lead by top scoring former Sheffield United striker Joe Ironside that have been free scoring all season.
A shaky start for Kiddy was followed by a mammoth 17 match unbeaten run (winning 9 and drawing 7), stretching from September 23rd to February 5th.
However, they haven’t won a game since then, having lost their last three games to Harrogate, Darlington and a crushing last minute 1-0 defeat to strugglers Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.
Harriers manager John Eustace is seeking a positive result against York after being left furious with the hat-trick of defeats.
The former Watford and Stoke City player told the club’s media team after the Gainsborough defeat that he is expecting a big reaction on Tuesday night:
I’m disappointed, very disappointed. That’s three defeats in a row and we are going to have to liven up quickly if we are thinking of getting into the play-offs.
Nobody is interested in performances, it’s results that count at the end of the day and we have had three disappointing defeats. We need a big reaction on Tuesday.
I need the group in there to get together, as well as myself and the staff, and we need a positive result on Tuesday.
Man to watch: Emmanuel Sonupe
After being released by Northampton Town in the summer, pacey winger Emmanuel Sonupe has been a big part of Kidderminster’s ruthless attacking line this season.
Despite not starting the last few games, the lively 21-year old has scored 15 goals and has made 5 assists playing alongside Joe Ironside and Andre Brown this season.
After making toast out of City full back David Ferguson, he went on to score the winning goal in the FA Trophy win over City back in December. York will need to be switched on if they are to deal with his threat this time around.
Last time out: Jon Parkin produced one of his moments of brilliance, after curling in a 25-yard freekick to cancel out Ryan Croasdale’s opening goal for Kiddy in a 1-1 draw at Bootham Crescent back in November.
The last time York beat Kidderminster on their own patch in a league match was back in the Blue Square Premier 2009/2010 season, when a single goal from Neil Barret in the second half sealed a 1-0 win at the Aggborough Stadium.
Kidderminster have kept the second most home clean sheets in the league (7) and have only conceded 13 goals on their own patch this season. York meanwhile, have conceded 23 goals on the road this season and have not kept an away clean sheet since August.
Kiddy’s front three of Andre Brown, Joe Ironside and Emmanuel Sonupe have scored 41 of the team’s 52 goals this season. In comparison, York have relied heavily on Jon Parkin’s 25 goals, while other available strikers Louis Almond, Raul Correia and Alex Kempster only have 4 goals between them.