An entire division currently separates these two in the National League, and fans of the visitors will be desperately hoping that doesn’t increase to a second come the end of the season. Few of the Bootham Crescent faithful would probably deny the hosts the opportunity of another return to the Football League following a particularly difficult six years of regular underachievement. The transformation since the arrival of inspirational leader Danny Cowley has been nothing other than a pleasure to observe – even from the outside.
As for York, their sad malaise has been going on for so long it must be so terribly difficult for their wonderful fans to even faintly recall such fabulous delights currently being so joyously lavished upon their Lincolnshire counterparts. But as manager Gary Mills – still a resounding voice of rich optimism and utter defiance – insists, a recent much improved record of six victories and five draws from their latest thirteen games wouldn’t exactly suggest a club quite yet desperately reeling in the direction of the life support-machine.
True, four of those wins have come against lower-ranked opponents in the FA Trophy. But as Mills has himself categorically responded: “it doesn’t matter”. For there was certainly an extended period when his under-reconstruction side couldn’t get anywhere near a victory – or if they suddenly did would then dramatically self-implode. A repeat of that thirteen-game sequence transferred to their remaining league programme would surely retain collective heads above the National League waters for another campaign.
And should that be the case, then celebrations at the end of undoubtedly the worst season in the club’s history – and there have been a good number of those to rival such a claim – would be as great and as full-on as ever; for heroic victories unexpectedly snatched from between the apparently locked jaws of inevitable defeat are always the most vividly recollected.
“We’ve got to go and pit our wits against the best in our league at this moment in time,” manager Gary Mills told BBC Radio York. “Although we sit bottom, we’ve got to go and try upset the odds. The players are up for every game and I think you’ve seen in recent weeks we’re up for it. I think what’s been tough for them, we haven’t got the rewards for all the efforts they’ve put in.
“The domination of games at times – we haven’t dominated for ninety minutes, which we know has been a little bit of a blip for us where the first-half performances have probably been better than second for different reasons.
“So we’ve played well, we’ve been unfortunate and like anything when you’ve had a run like we’ve had, where we maybe haven’t got the rewards, I’ve heard words of frustration, disappointment. For me frustration and disappointment means you’re feeling a little bit sorry for yourself – and we can’t afford to do that.
“We’ve got to stand up, we’ve got to be counted. If we’ve only got eleven fit players to go to Lincoln, we’ve got to go and get a result with those eleven.”
Lincoln City Team News:
Lincoln are bidding for an eighth straight victory and have a full squad available, other than the sidelined Luke Beevers [knee]. Luke Waterfall, Sean Raggett, Nathan Arnold, Alex Woodyard, Matt Rhead and on loan Dayle Southwell were all rested at the weekend and should return, while former York loanee Elliott Whitehouse is also within their ranks.
Lincoln City (probable): Farman, Wood, Waterfall, Raggett, Habergham, Arnold, Woodyard, Power, Hawkridge, Muldoon, Rhead
subs (from): Marriott, Long, Walton, McMenemy, McCombe, Southwell, Ward, Whitehouse
Player to watch: Sean Raggett
Hit national headlines with his dramatic late winner at Burnley in the FA Cup, but has been a towering presence all season following a summer move from Dover Athletic.
York City Team News:
Defender Lanre Oyebanjo [thigh] misses out and joins Yan Klukowski [calf], Matt Fry [knee], Simon Lappin [Achilles] and Clovis Kamdjo [knee) on the sidelines. Utility man Danny Holmes is suspended following his weekend sending-off. Both Shaun Rooney and reserve goalkeeper Luke Simpson were expected to return to the squad along with forward Daniel Ntil upon completion of his loan at FC Halifax Town.
York City (probable): Letheren, Rooney, Bencherif, Parslow, Heslop, Hall, Newton, Whittle, Oliver, Parkin, Morgan-Smith
subs: Moke, Fenwick, Connolly, Nti, Simpson
Player to watch: Daniel Parslow
York suffered a first defeat since his return last week but should remain a key player over the remaining games.
Match Facts & Stats
The Minstermen won eight and drew nine of 37 trips to Sincil Bank in the Football League. They were also victorious in their only Conference visit when Matty Blair scored both goals for a 2-0 triumph in January 2012. Team: Ingham, Challinor, C. Smith, Parslow, Meredith, Kerr, Brown, McLaughlin, Blair, Reed (Chambers), Pilkington
Link: Red Rewind – Matt double applies the gloss
Tuesday’s Games: Bromley v Braintree; Dagenham v Maidstone; Eastleigh v Aldershot; Guiseley v Barrow; Lincoln v York City; Macclesfield P-P Gateshead; Solihull P-P Torquay; Sutton v Boreham Wood; Tranmere P-P Forest Green; Woking v Dover
FA Trophy Quarter-Final Replay: Macclesfield P-P Dulwich Hamlet