The matchday preview: York City vs Southport

David Ferguson lifts the roof off the David Longhurst. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

After a two week break, York City will be looking to put recent off field troubles behind them with a win over Southport at Bootham Crescent tonight.

York City vs Southport

Bootham Crescent

Mar 27th 2018, 7.45pm KO

City fans will be delighted to finally have some football to focus on, after a week that has seen the club’s future put into potential jeopardy.

The timing of Jason McGill’s quick-fire decision to leave the club today, along with CEO Jackie McNamara, will certainly be no help to manager Martin Gray as he prepares his side for a playoff run in (Mar 27th).

On the pitch, the Minstermen have picked up just nine points from a possible 24, having only won two of their last eight matches. With every other team in the top seven having at least one game in hand over City, the wins need to start coming thick and fast.

And the games don’t get any easier… Southport have won five out of their last six games and have rocketed up the league since the turn of the year.

City will have a fully fit squad to pick from, although midfielder Simon Heslop will serve the first of his two-game ban after his red card in the 1-0 win over Boston

National League North Table

Scroll horizontally to see all the info

 TeamPlWDLFAGDPts
1Salford City35227665412473
2Harrogate Town34226684404472
3Brackley Town321810457282964
4Kidderminster Harriers331411858401853
5York City34158115950953
6Blyth Spartans331711567511652
7Stockport County341571261471452
8Spennymoor Town3015695647951
9Bradford P A35139135548748
10Chorley33121293730748
11Darlington361211135049147
12Southport34138135358-547
13Nuneaton34128144249-744
14FC United of Manchester36128165466-1244
15Boston United33127145355-243
16Alfreton Town35125185960-141
17Leamington35118164455-1141
18Curzon Ashton331010134351-840
19Tamworth36109174662-1639
20AFC Telford United34115184258-1638
21Gainsborough Trinity35104213666-3034
22North Ferriby Utd3638251989-7017

York City preview

Business as usual

The manager is obsessed with getting York promoted. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

Manager Martin Gray has assured it’s business as usual despite the off-field anarchy, and is ready to make that final push for the playoffs.

The manager conducted a meeting with his players on Friday to answer any questions regarding the club’s future, but is confident that their main focus is getting three points against Southport.

Gray was delighted with results going massively in City’s favour at the weekend and has highlighted the importance of capitalising on that with a win tonight.

That won’t be easy against a Southport team who have been almost unstoppable since the turn of the year, but Gray is aware of the threat the Port possess.

We had a team meeting on Friday, players being players want to know if they’re getting paid, if they’re staying full time and so on.

But now it’s business as normal. The chairman (now former) has told me to focus on my job and promotion, and that’s our aim.

Results were good for us on Saturday, we’re still in a good position, and now we have to back that up with a win. We’ve done a lot of team bonding over the last two weeks, which will hopefully bring some good outcomes tomorrow.

It’s a big game for Southport who still have a chance of the playoffs, so we’ve got to make sure we’re on top of our game and respect them like anybody else.

Martin Gray

Defence is key

Bartlett is not scared of NLN top scorer Jason Glilchrist. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

Adam Bartlett has highlighted the importance of keeping the back door shut if City are to achieve playoff glory at the end of the season.

The City shot-stopper has been one of City’s best performers this season, and a lack of clean sheets have been no fault of his own.

Bartlett will face the league’s top scorer in Jason Gilchrist tonight, but is not fazed by the prospect and is more focused on getting three points.

“We are still conceding too many sloppy goals at the back. Three clean sheets since I came in isn’t good enough, so with 8 games to go we’ve got to have much more solid approach from the back going right the way through the team.

“He’s had a good season and I’ve seen him (Gilchrist) score a couple of good goals recently on match highlights, but I try not to overthink in terms of what a striker is going to do.

“Every game is different and, if you start analysing and gambling on how you think he’s going to finish, you can catch yourself on the wrong foot.”

Adam Bartlett

Veteran keeper Worsnop returns to Bootham Crecent for the Port tonight. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

One of the most influential characters that helped Bartlett settle into life as a City player, was former keeper and goalkeeping coach Jon Worsnop.

The 35-year-old will to his old stomping ground in the Southport goal tonight after being released by Martin Gray earlier in the season.

Bartlett is hoping the veteran will have an off night in a game where Worsnop will have a point to prove.

“Jon could have quite easily downed tools when I came through the door, but his attitude was great.

“He put on some great sessions on and gave me a lot of useful advice about the lads to give me a good introduction to the club.

“He’s gone to Southport and it looks as if he’s been great for them, he will want to prove the manager wrong, but hopefully he has an off night tomorrow night.”

Adam Bartlett

Southport preview

A fair challenge from the former City defender, who returns in a Southport shirt this weekend. Photography © Ian Parker
Southport FC
Founded: 1881
Stadium: Hague Avenue
Capacity: 6,008 (1,660 seated)
Nickname: The Sandgrounders, the Port, Yellows
Colours: All Yellow (lime green away)
Manager: Kevin Davies
League Position: 12th
Top Scorer: Jason Gilchrist (26, 10 for Southport)

Relegated with City last year, Southport are playing their first season back in the 6th division since 2009, and like York, are looking for a swift return to the National League.

After a poor start to the season that saw them go on a dreadful run of 15 matches without a win, the Port were staring another relegation in the face by Christmas.

Out went their previous manager Alan Lewer, and in came former Bolton and England striker Kevin Davies in October.

After failing to win his first ten matches, the Port’s fortunes turned at the start of 2018, and they have never looked back.

In the 11 games they have played since New Year’s day, Southport have picked up 24 points from a possible 33.

The club were within a point of the playoffs up until last week, but lost their five-match winning run at the weekend with a disappointing 3-1 loss to Alfreton Town.

Southport’s weak spot is clearly their away form. The Merseyside club have managed a mere five away wins all season, and have only won twice on the road in 2018 (both against the bottom two).

As well as the already mentioned Jon Worsnop, former right back Alex Whittle is another player who will return to City for Southport tonight.

The right back fell well out of favour in a York shirt under Martin Gray earlier in the season and will certainly be out to prove a point tonight.

Whittle was substituted at half-time in a disappointing debut for the Port in the weekend defeat to Alfreton.

Key battle: Jon Parkin vs Jason Gilchrist

The National League North’s answer to Ronaldo vs Messi… Jon Parkin and Jason Gilchrist are the division’s top scorers and will go head to head looking to edge their team to victory this weekend.

Gilchrist started the season at FC United of Manchester, where he scored 16 goals (including one in a 2-0 win over City at Bootham Crescent), before joining Southport in November.

The 22-year-old has been vital to the Sandgrounders’ turn in form, scoring 10 times in his 12 appearances for them so far. The same can’t be said for Jon Parkin, who is suffering a goal drought that stretches back to the 13th of January, where he scored in a 2-1 win over Bradford Park Avenue.

H2H stats

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fhVc_LgzfI” /]
Last time out: City were saved by their captain, as Sean Newton scored an 82nd minute equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw against 10-man Southport back in August. Southport keeper Jon Worsnop was in net for City that day, and he was expertly lobbed by Curtis Jones when put Southport ahead in the seventh minute.

The sides meet each other this weekend almost a year to the day that they last met at Bootham Crescent, and what a meeting it was. City came away 5-3 winners after being 3-1 down, thanks to two goals from Jon Parkin, and goals from Amari Morgan-Smith, Sean Newton and Vadine Oliver. Current City striker Louis Almond scored two absolutely sublime goals for Southport, inspiring York to move for him in the summer.

The two sides have played each other 80 times stretching back to 1929. City are ahead on games won, with 32 victories to Southport’s 25 and 27 games have finished a draw.

York City recorded their biggest every league win against Southport. They ran in 9-1 winners at Bootham Crescent back in 1957, when York played in the old Division Three North.

Higgs Predicts

It’s nice to finally focus on some football after a week of off field nightmares.

City will need to be right at the races if they are to beat a strong Southport side tonight. If there is a game where Jon Parkin should turn his torrid scoring form around, it ought to be this one, as City will need their best players to perform if they are to win.

There were plenty of positives the loss to Kidderminster, but the players will need to answer Martin Gray’s wishes to start games stronger than they have been. York have only managed to win once after conceding the first goal all season, which says a lot about the squad’s lack of mental strength to get back in to games.

Southport have more than enough quality in their side to beat City tonight, but York need to make the home advantage count, and if they start well, I believe they can get a result.

Higgs predicts: York City 2-1 Southport