Two clubs that have fallen on particularly difficult times meet this weekend as York City entertain Stockport County in what is sure to be amongst the biggest National League North attendances of the season at Bootham Crescent.
Successive defeats for the Minstermen had seen a sudden return of gloom and despondency, until they travelled to the north-east in midweek and inflicted a first home loss since February on Spennymoor Town – later described by manager Gary Mills as the best team faced so far this season.
That made it a decent enough ten points from an available fifteen on the road thus far, and if that kind of return can be reached an ultimately surpassed at home, then City shouldn’t be too far away.
Stockport warmed up to the task with an emphatic 6-0 thrashing of ten-man Southport in midweek, but as with their next opponents their form has continued to be somewhat erratic, having drawn 0-0 with visitors Bradford Park Avenue and lost 3-1 at Tamworth in their previous couple of games.
The Hatters have though also accounted for Gainsborough Trinity (H) 1-0, Leamington (A) 3-2 and Curzon Ashton (H) 3-0, while only losing at Spennymoor 1-0 and Salford City 2-1, in addition to drawing 2-2 with visitors Harrogate Town.
Parallels always remain between these two fine clubs, with both previously enjoying glorious national cup semi-finals and the heady delights of second-tier football as part of their long history, but also severe financial hardships and accompanying debilitating ownership and ground issues.
For the good of the game and more importantly to reward the tremendous loyalty of both sets of followers, it’s to be hoped they each return to those past glories sooner rather than later.
“A similar club to ourselves really who are probably fed up of being in this league – and have been in too long, proving how tough this league is to get out of,” manager Gary Mills told BBC Radio York. “They’re supported very similar to ourselves, always get round about the same sort of crowds as what we do. Same sort of old stadium that is great to play in. So two teams that are desperate to get out of certainly this league and into the next one and back into the Football League. It’ll be a big crowd; I know we’re on level points so we know if we beat them then we go above them. So that’s always a nice incentive to have and it makes for a good game.”
York City Team News:
Midfielder Simon Heslop returns from suspension and is set to line-up in a 4-3-3 formation that allows latest debutant Theo Wharton to continue. Adriano Moke [thigh], Clovis Kamdjo [knee] and Matt Fry [knee] remain sidelined while midfielder Aidan Connolly has recently been transfer-listed.
York City (probable): Worsnop, Law, Parslow, Bencherif, Whittle, Heslop, Wharton, Newton, Almond, Parkin, Morgan-Smith
subs: Sukar, Smith, Felix, Rankine, Muggleton
Player to watch: Louis Almond
Scored on his return in midweek and his inclusion usually makes for a much better team in offensive areas.
Stockport County Team News:
The visitors equalled their biggest win since the mid-sixties in midweek when thrashing ten-man Southport 6-0, with doubles from Jason Oswell and Matty Warburton adding to further strikes by Harry Winter and Jimmy Ball. Their ranks also include former Tranmere Rovers winger Darren Stephenson, who had been a reported target of York when earlier scoring twenty-one goals in his final season at Chorley.
Stockport County (possible): Hinchliffe, Minihan, Duxbury, Ball, Clarke, O’Halloran, Stephenson, Winter, Oswell, Warburton, S. Walker
subs: Cowan, Hampson, T. Walker, Smith, McKenna
Player to watch: Jason Oswell
Former Welsh Premier League Golden Boot winner with nine goals in eight games since arriving from Newtown over the summer.
Match Facts & Stats
Two famous clubs who have only once met at Bootham Crescent while in non-league – with City winning 2-1 back in February 2012 courtesy of late goals from substitutes Jamie Reed and Matthew Blinkhorn. County previously made 42 visits in the Football League, York triumphing twenty times and with eleven games finishing level. Before their most recent defeat, Stockport had actually remained unbeaten in eight League and Cup trips to North Yorkshire.
Red Rewind – Late blitz stuns County
York – Gainsborough (H); Stockport – AFC Telford (A)
Weekend Games: AFC Telford v Harrogate; Alfreton v Gainsborough; Blyth v Boston; Bradford PA v Nuneaton; Curzon Ashton v FC United of Manchester; Darlington v Leamington; North Ferriby v Chorley; Salford v Brackley; Southport v Kidderminster; Tamworth v Spennymoor; York City v Stockport