York City take another break from league action this weekend when visiting current Evo-Stik League Division One North front-runners South Shields in the FA Cup third qualifying round.
In normal circumstances a 2-0 defeat at the divisional leaders last time out wouldn’t have generated too much consternation, and would instead have been hopefully met with a measured disappointment from supporters. But the fact that those leaders were local club Harrogate Town inevitably caused a massively adverse reaction amongst the Bootham Crescent fanbase.
That was perfectly understandable of course, and while it certainly wasn’t the worst result in the club’s long and far too often turbulent history, in many ways it actually felt like it to those distraught followers.
Either way that desperately weak and ill-timed performance at the CNG Stadium was probably all the more surprising given the visitors had secured themselves a commendable 2-1 FA Cup triumph at promotion rivals Salford City a week earlier.
But that has been York so far this season, wildly swinging from promise to mediocrity within the space of just a few days – and if that is a regularly maintained theme they certainly won’t be making their debut sixth-tier visit a concise one.
Manager Gary Mills has nonetheless once again backed his squad in terms of its quality; and those same players, the vast majority of whom indeed display much higher pedigree careers, must immediately discover the consistency required to get the club moving back in the right direction.
Weekend opponents South Shields clearly already possess that crucial attribute, with incredibly just a solitary defeat recorded in their previous fifty games; although they are currently a full two divisions behind their visitors and former FA Cup semi-finalists.
“They’ve got good players and I know quite a few of them,” manager Gary Mills told BBC Radio York. “They’re on a roll and full of confidence – and believe they could beat anybody. To win 3-0 at Darlington in the last round, and by all accounts they could have doubled that and won by a lot more. So we’re going up there to play against a side that are absolutely full of confidence. But we have got a squad of players good enough to go and win at South Shields. But it’s the FA Cup and you’ve got to make sure that number one you’re up for it; number two you work harder than them; and number three whatever your job is in the side, that you go out and do it very, very well.”
“We’re going to have a great crowd behind us and I’m sure York will bring quite a few supporters up as well, so it should be a really good game.” former Gateshead right-back Craig Baxter told the Shields Gazette. “We know that, on our day, we can give anyone a good game, because we’ve got a great team and a great squad. We know it’s going to be difficult because they’ve got a lot of experience in their team, but we’ve just got to give it our best shot.”
South Shields Team News:
Experienced former Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca, 36, was expected to recover from the leg injury that kept him out of their latest game. Chief danger may be provided by six-goal leading marksman Carl Finningan, previously of Falkirk, St Johnstone and Dundee.
Player to watch: Jon Shaw
Former York loan striker now regularly featuring in the middle of defence.
York City Team News:
Striker Jon Parkin returns after missing the Harrogate defeat over concerns about his suspect knee. But fellow experienced goalscorer Michael Rankine remains out following recent high blood pressure. Right-back Josh Law is a confirmed doubt having suffered a groin problem at the CNG Stadium.
York City (probable): Worsnop, Heslop, Parslow, Bencherif, Whittle, Moke, Wharton, Newton, Almond, Morgan-Smith, Parkin
subs: Felix, Muggleton, Sukar, Smith, Simpson, Edmondson, Haswell
Player to watch: Amari Morgan-Smith
Was seen as a major summer signing but has responded with just three goals since then despite committed displays.
Match Facts & Stats
The Minstermen have made three previous cup visits to South Shields, winning twice and losing once; the most recent occasion a first round tie in January 1969, when York, playing in front of a 6,000 attendance, secured their biggest victory on the road in the competition – 6-0 courtesy of a Tommy Ross hat-trick and further strikes from Ted MacDougall (2) and Gerry Baker (pen). Team: Widdowson, Baker, Richardson, Carr, Jackson, Burrows, Taylor, Ross, MacDougall, Hodgson, Boyer
Link: City have past history with Shields
South Shields – Goole (H); York – Brackley (H)