After a two week break, York City will now enter their final ten games with the visit of Boston United on Saturday.
Mar 10th 2018, 3pm KO
City have been out of action since drawing 1-1 with Alfreton Town two weeks ago, after their game against Kidderminster fell victim to the ‘beast from the east’ last week.
The break may have come at the best time for the Minstermen, whose recent performances have been well below par since their 1-0 victory over Salford last month.
The lifeless draw against Alfreton was certainly no respite from the humiliating 4-1 defeat to Curzon Ashton the week before.
It’s a different story for Boston United. After looking like relegation fodder at the start of the season, they powered on to a 9 match unbeaten run up until their 1-0 defeat to Leamington, in their last match.
It will be a difficult game for Martin Gray’s men to turn their recent form around, as they know too well from their 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture back in December.
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York City preview
The message has been very clear as to what York City manager Martin Gray wants this week: consistency.
One of the factors behind City’s lack of it has been the poor mentality and character of his players, especially when it comes to playing lower placed opposition.
The manager said he has spent the last two weeks trying to stamp a winning mentality into his players as they approach the business end of the season.
Gray also feels that their is a point to prove against Boston on Saturday, after his side produced one of their worst performances of the season in the reverse fixture.
What is disappointing, is we’ve set our standards with the Salford game, and failed to deliver soon after that. It all comes down to a lack of mentality, nothing more.
We’ve been putting on double sessions to try and improve on the small details that let us down, and hopefully we will see the benefits of that in the run in of fixtures.
We’ve definitely got a point to prove on Saturday. We didn’t perform to our standards there, we didn’t do enough to win that game.
They’ve got stronger and better under Craig Elliott, so we’ve got to be very respectful, but we’ve had two weeks to prepare these players and they’ve got no excuses. We’ve got to make sure that we get some consistency now to get to where we need to get to.
If you’re good enough, you’re old enough
An answer to Gray’s lack of squad mentality could be an injection of youth.
Many of City’s young guns impressed during the midweek North Riding Senior Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough.
Harry Thompson got on the score sheet, Aaron Haswell assisted Clovis Kamdjo’s goal, while newbee Vinny Steels dominated on the right wing in the 3-3 draw (Boro eventually going through on penalties).
Another player who has already tasted first team action, Theo Wharton, also produced an excellent midfield performance on Tuesday. Gray feels he may be one that pushes a first team place in the coming weeks, if he continues to perform consistently.
Speaking on including youth in his squad, Gray said: “It was great to see our young players give a great account of themselves on Tuesday, they did more than enough to win the game.”
“I thought young Vinny Steels did great. For a 16-year-old boy, he was outstanding, but equally the rest of our young players gave a real strong performance and have given me food for thought going forward.”
“I think Theo has given himself a real chance, hopefully the penny has dropped. I’ve seen the differences on the training ground as well, he’s got a bigger desire, but that has to come all of the time and not just because we’ve got ten games to go.”
Almond hoping to chip in
With Jon Parkin serving the second game of his three match ban on Saturday, recently returned striker Louis Almond is hoping he can make a name for himself in the last 10 games.
New hitman Alex Kempster was chosen ahead of the 26-year-old against Alfreton, but with Raul Correia firing blanks in the only other striking competition, Almond is now looking to take his chance.
Almond came on with 20 minutes to go and sparked the only bit of life shown in the team in the closing stages and many fans have called for his inclusion in the starting line up.
However, after a long spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, the striker is being patient for his opportunity and told YorkMix it is all about getting back to match fitness.
It’s the minutes that matter, but I’m slowly getting there, training every day and I feel good.
It was annoying knowing that you can do things with your legs, but being unable to train because of a shoulder injury, but you can’t come back too early otherwise you risk undoing the operation.
Any time is a good time to come back. I thought I would only get 4 or 5 games, so to get ten is a massive bonus.
For myself, it’s all about working hard, getting back fit, scoring some goals and seeing if I can earn another contract for next year.
Boston United preview
Stadium: York Street
Capacity: 6,643 (5,711 seated)
Nickname: The Pilgrims
Colours: Amber and Black
Manager: Craig Elliott
League Position: 13th
Top Scorer: Ashley Hemmings (12)
It’s been a story of two halves of a season for Boston. A run of only three wins in their first 16 matches saw them languishing in the bottom three by November, leading to the resignation of then manager, Adam Murray.
In came Craig Elliot, and after achieving his first win as Pilgrims boss against a sorry York City side in early December, he guided them to 6 more wins in a run of nine unbeaten matches through December and January.
However, the Pilgrims are still only five points above the relegation spots in a very tight bottom half of the league, and after losing their last match against Leamington, they still have a lot to do to guarantee survival.
United have had their last three matches postponed due to the harsh weather conditions in February, meaning they have had three weeks rest ahead of Saturday’s match.
Unpopular ex-City striker Reece Thompson won’t play against City after receiving a red card in their last match. His strike partner and Boston’s top goal scorer Ashley Hemmings will be available though.
Eight of Hemmings’ last 12 goals scored this season have come in the last 10 games, including a penalty against City in the reverse fixture. His pace and power will be a clear threat for City’s recently wobbly back line.
Man to watch: Brad Abbot
After joining the Pilgrims from Buxton in mid December, Brad Abbot has been one of the main instigators in Boston’s season revival.
The former Barnsley trainee was one of Craig Elliott’s first signings at The Jakemans Stadium, and went on to score 4 goals from midfield in his 9 games played, three of which have come in the last 4 games.
The versatile attacking midfielder’s link up play with Thompson and Hemmings has been a huge threat for defence’s recently. However, with the former out of action on Saturday, there will be more pressure on his shoulders for inspiring a Boston bid for victory.
Out of six recorded meetings, York have only beaten Boston once; a 2-0 League 2 victory at Bootham Crescent back in 2002.
Boston haven’t failed to score away from home since the opening day of the season, meanwhile York have only failed to score three times at home all season.
Both sides suffer from dismal defensive records. City have only conceded one fewer goal (48) than Boston (49) this season. York have only kept 6 clean sheets while Boston have only kept 3.