Successive victories across the Christmas and New Year period will leave York City in decent heart going into their weekend visit to old rivals Darlington.
However, their welcome recent six-point haul was at the expense of already stranded bottom-of-the-table outfit North Ferriby United, who are seemingly destined for a second consecutive relegation.
The Minstermen’s latest challenge now witnesses manager Martin Gray making a swift return to his former club just three months after departing them.
Gray had previously steered the north-east side to three promotions during a very successful five years in charge.
Also notably returning to their former stamping ground this weekend are York goalkeeper Adam Bartlett and left-back David Ferguson.
Darlington’s poor form of late has seen them sliding dangerously to just above the relegation zone, although they recently accounted for Harrogate Town 3-1 at home before immediately losing the return 3-0 on New Year’s Day.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” assistant manager Dave Penney admitted to BBC Radio York. “Obviously there’s issues around this game with Martin leaving. Wherever we go as York City, it’s the biggest game of most teams’ season and Saturday will be no different. We just have to make sure we’re ready for the battle and stand up to it – and make sure our qualities come through.”
Darlington Team News:
The hosts are still without defender Chris Hunter [ankle] while Luke Trotman [hamstring] is considered doubtful.
Darlington (from): Talbot, Collins, Heaton, Brown, Scott, Gillies, Turnbull, Wheatley, Thompson, Styche, Syers, Galbraith, Mills, Saunders, Glover, Caton
Player to watch: Reece Styche
Former Forest Green Rovers striker who has already scored twice for Tamworth against York this season.
York City Team News:
Skipper Sean Newton has recovered from an ankle injury while midfielder Clovis Kamdjo [knee] will make his comeback for the reserves in midweek. Forward duo Louis Almond [shoulder] and Michael Rankine [high blood pressure] remain on the sidelines.
York City (probable): Bartlett, Law, Burn, Bencherif, Ferguson, Moke, McAllister, Pattison, Connolly, Morgan-Smith, Parkin
subs (from): Rowe, Smith, Gray, Parslow, Simpson, Newton
Player to watch: Adam Bartlett
Former England ‘C’ goalkeeper making a return to his previous club on the back of a timely first clean-sheet in eight games.
Match Facts & Stats
York have made only a couple of previous league visits at non-league level, initially losing 2-1 in April 2011 despite a late Chris Carruthers consolation. They then drew their most recent encounter 2-2 six years ago, when skipper Chris Smith and substitute Ashley Chambers inspired a second-half recovery in front of a bumper 6,413 attendance. Team: Ingham, Challinor, Parslow, Smith, Meredith, Kerr, Boucaud (Reed), McLaughlin, Blair, Blinkhorn (Fyfield), Pilkington (Chambers). Prior to those two games, City won eleven and drew twelve of 49 Football League trips to the north-east.
Link: Red Rewind – City rally to shake the Quakers
Darlington – Salford (H); York – Bradford PA (H)
Weekend Fixtures: AFC Telford v Curzon Ashton; Blyth v Gainsborough; Boston v Tamworth; Bradford PA v Spennymoor; Chorley v Harrogate; Darlington v York City; FC United of Manchester P-P Southport; Leamington v Kidderminster; North Ferriby v Alfreton; Nuneaton v Brackley; Stockport v Salford
Sunday: FC United of Manchester v Southport