York City’s moment of truth is almost upon them as they take on promotion-hopefuls Forest Green Rovers in certainly one of the most important games in their entire 95-year history on Saturday (kick-off 12.15pm). The extent of its significance even witnesses the live TV cameras making a first visit of the season to Bootham Crescent.
The scenario is that realistically only a victory will suffice for the Minstermen for them to have a decent chance of avoiding a disastrous second consecutive relegation, although they could theoretically still escape with just a single-point. One thing is for certain, however, lose and City are definitely sliding into regional non-league football.
And even should they battle to the required triumph so anxiously craved by their wonderful but understandably deeply-fraught followers, then attention would immediately have to shift elsewhere and the weekend labours of fellow endangered clubs Braintree Town, Guiseley, Torquay United, Woking and even Chester (but only with a vast nine-goal swing).
At least those same City supporters’ favourites approach the contest having beaten Forest Green in each of their last four home meetings, but only once by more than a single-goal. Indeed 1-0 was the result in their most recent encounter almost five years to the very day, when midfielder Adriano Moke struck a late winner.
Interestingly, Gary Mills’ soon-to-be FA Trophy finalists also wrapped up that particular campaign by twice gracing Wembley Stadium – in the process securing themselves a fabulous double. His legend would undoubtedly take on yet another level if he was to achieve a revised but no less significant version of that inside just seven months of his emotional return to the club that he, even by his own admission, so clearly loves.
“There’s no doubt that [Sam Muggleton’s long throw] is a weapon you can score goals from,” manager Gary Mills told BBC Radio York. “If the ball goes into the opposition’s box, whether it’s from a free-kick, corner, general play or a throw-in, then you’ve got a chance of scoring.
“And vice-versa; that’s why you always want to stop crosses going into your own box. So if the ball goes into a box, there’s always a chance it could drop to somebody to score. That’s again a decision that I’ve got to make. A decision based on the fact that we’ve got to win the game on Saturday. I’ve thought long and hard about it and you’ll find out at midday on Saturday.”
York City Team News:
Defender Alex Whittle is available after missing training during the week while former Forest Green midfielder Yan Klukowski [calf] returns to the squad. Manager Gary Mills could also turn to long-throw specialist Sam Muggleton from the start having again contributed to a vital goal last weekend. Otherwise Lanre Oyebanjo [thigh], Matt Fry [knee], Simon Lappin [Achilles] and Clovis Kamdjo [knee] remain sidelined.
York City (probable): Loach, Parslow, Bencherif, Newton, Holmes, Heslop, Hall, Whittle (or Muggleton), Morgan-Smith, Parkin, Oliver
subs (from): Moke, Muggleton (or Whittle), Simpson, Rooney, Connolly, Fenwick, Klukowski
Player to watch: Sam Muggleton
The long-throw specialist could well earn a full debut having once again used ‘the weapon’ to tremendous effect at Woking.
Forest Green Rovers Team News:
Rovers could make changes ahead of taking on Dagenham & Redbridge in the play-offs after losing at Southport in their last away game and then being held by Maidstone United. Former York loanee midfielder Charlie Cooper may again start in addition to main danger-man Christian Doidge, who has already enjoyed a prolific season in front of goal.
Player to watch: Liam Noble
Undoubtedly one of the best attacking midfielders in the division and with seven league goals this season.
Match Facts & Stats
The Minstermen have a decent record against Forest Green having won five and drawn one of their eight previous meetings at Bootham Crescent. Indeed York have triumphed on the last four occasions, with the most recent being when Adriano Moke netted a late winner back in April 2012. Team: Musselwhite, Challinor, Parslow, Doig, Fyfield, Brown, Potts, Moke, Ashikodi (Reed), Blinkhorn (Pilkington), Tonne (Kelly).
York – Macclesfield FATF (Wembley); Forest Green – Dagenham POSF (H/A)
Weekend Games (kick-off 12.15pm): Aldershot v Braintree; Barrow v Dover; Chester v Boreham Wood; Dagenham v Woking; Eastleigh v Wrexham; Gateshead v Bromley; Guiseley v Solihull Moors; Macclesfield v Sutton; Maidstone v Tranmere; Southport v Lincoln; Torquay v North Ferriby; York City v Forest Green
Link: Red Rewind – Everything turns out Moke for York
Link: National League – The Fight For Survival