The leaders come to town this weekend as York City test their resolve against long-time pacesetters Gillingham at Bootham Crescent. The Minstermen at least have their clinical destruction of lowly Bristol Rovers still fresh in their minds, although that was only their third victory in eleven attempts in front of their own supporters this season. Gillingham are currently five points clear of the rest despite their uncharacteristically suspect recent form bringing them only one win in their previous five games. But having the most impressive defensive statistics in the division means that Martin Allen’s side are never going to be far off the mark, especially in combination with the joint-best away record. However, York are perfectly capable of beating anybody at this level if they are in the mood. And their loyal followers will certainly hope this is very much the case over the crucial festive period if the club are to again be challenging for honours come the end of the season.
“This is always a funny period with trying to get the training right,” manager Gary Mills told BBC Radio York. “I’ll let the players spend Christmas Day with their families and trust that they’ll go for a walk or a jog after their dinner. The table says they’re very good. They’ve been top virtually the whole season. You have to be disciplined against them but we know what we are capable of and we can beat them.”
York City Team News:
Northern Ireland Under-21 skipper Patrick McLaughlin should be fit despite being carried off with a bruised lung and kidney during the 4-1 thrashing of Bristol Rovers last week. Centre-back Chris Doig has also overcome a knock on his ankle but two-goal Ashley Chambers is a major doubt for the home side with a groin strain.
York City (probable): Ingham, Parslow, C. Smith, Doig, Fyfield, Kerr, Potts, McLaughlin, Blair, Walker, Rodman
subs: Musselwhite, Allan, McGurk, Bullock, J. Smith, Reed, Blanchett
Player to watch: Patrick McLaughlin
York invariably shine when this smooth operator is in form and he certainly was last week until his unfortunate injury.
Gillingham Team News:
Midfielder Chris Whelpdale has been passed fit after recovering from a thigh strain but on loan MK Dons central defender Tom Flanagan is still out with a broken metatarsal. Eleven-goal former AFC Wimbledon striker Danny Kedwell again leads their attack.
Gillingham (probable): Nelson, Fish, Jackson, Davies, Barrett, Whelpdale, Lee, Allen, Weston, Kedwell, Burton
Player to watch: Myles Weston
Dangerous player operating down the left and will need watching.
Match Facts & Stats
Gillingham have won five and drawn six of their previous eighteen Football League visits to Bootham Crescent, with the latest meeting being a 1-1 draw between the sides in August 1998. Richard Cresswell scored for City as they lined-up: Mimms, McMillan, Jones, Thompson, Connelly, Pouton, Tinkler, Garratt, Hall, Rowe (Woods), Cresswell (Prendergast). Perhaps the most memorable game between the two clubs came in November 1984, as Keith Houchen notched a hat-trick allied to further strikes from Alan Pearce (2), Keith Walwyn and a Keith Oakes own-goal in a 7-1 thrashing for his side. York’s team that day was: Jones, Evans, Hay, Sbragia, MacPhail, Hood, Ford, Haslegrave, Walwyn, Houchen, Pearce.
S. Martin (Staffordshire)