The matchday preview: A play-off for the play-offs!

City and Bradford will battle for the playoffs. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography
12 Jan 2018 @ 11.00 am
| Sport

York City will be hoping to be in the play-off places by 5 o’clock on Saturday with victory in a mouthwatering all-Yorkshire fixture.

York City vs Bradford Park Avenue

Bootham Crescent

Saturday, Jan 13th KO 3pm

After achieving three wins on the bounce for the first time in three years, City are back in the play-off picture in the National League North.

The Minstermen are now just one point off 7th placed Bradford Park Avenue, who visit Bootham Crescent in what is set up to be a blockbuster fixture.

Martin Gray’s men are unbeaten in 2018 and produced one of the best performences of the season in the second half of last week’s 2-1 victory over Darlington.

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City will now be good odds to return to the play-off positions for the first time since early December, but The Avenue are certainly no push overs.

Mark Bowers side are unbeaten in their last five away games and have scored in each of their last seven on the road. They are yet to pick up a victory in 2018 though.

A dip in recent results included a 2-1 home defeat to Spennymoor last time out and the Avenue are now in danger of loosing their playoff status for the first time in two months.

National League North Table
Scroll horizontally to see all the info
1Salford City25174444251955
2Harrogate Town25155559312850
3Brackley Town25139345222348
4Spennymoor Town24135649381144
5Blyth Spartans241401056421442
6Kidderminster Harriers251010542291340
7Bradford P A25116842311139
8York City24115844341038
9Stockport County25107848361237
12Boston United2595113843-532
13FC United of Manchester2595114248-632
14Curzon Ashton247983037-730
16AFC Telford United2283112936-727
17Alfreton Town2482143842-426
21Gainsborough Trinity2374122944-1525
22North Ferriby Utd2514201063-537

Time to chip in

Parkin is a one man scoring army this season. Photograph ©Ian Parker on Flickr

They say that one man can’t win you games… Unless your name is Jon Parkin.

The veteran striker has scored 8 of City’s last 10 league goals. His winning penalty last week made him the top scorer in the National League North with 19 goals.

So the question remains, where are the goals going to come from without ‘Lord Parkin’?

Well, it’s all about confidence according to the big man, who spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon.

While the 36-year-old was happy with his innings this season, he is confident that if players like Amari-Morgan-Smith find the net just once, more goals will come flooding in as a result.

They just seem to be dropping to me at the minute (the goals). It’s obviously great for me, but there are goals in this team, even when I am not playing.

Morg’s just needs a goal, he had a good chance on Saturday, if he’s already got three or four goals, I think he just takes a touch and just slots it in.

As a striker, sometimes you’re confidence gets hit. That’s when you just need one to go in and get you on a roll really.

Jon Parkin

The flying scotsman: Connolly has been a stingless bee of recent.Photograph ©Ian Parker on Flickr

One player who has been deprived of goals this season is midfield ace Aidan Connolly.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been another influential figure in City’s winning run, after regaining his place in City’s midfield in December.

Despite positive attacking performances from the playmaker, a number of clear cut chances have fallen to the Scot in the last few games, but have failed to find the back of the net.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Connolly was frustrated with his lack of goals, but happy with his recent contributions to the team and is confident of another positive result on Saturday.

Goals are what you get noticed for, but it’s also a team game and if there is a pass on, i’m going to look to make it.

Obviously I need to score more goals. Jon is a natural goal scorer and he is important to us, but we need to start chucking in the goals as well, he can’t just do it on his own.

I’ve played the last four now and I feel good. I want to keep helping the team, we have won our last three and I’m confident we can continue with a win on Saturday.

Aidan Connolly

Bradford Park Avenue preview

It’s been a fine season so far for The Avenue. Photograph © John Rhodes on Google Photos
Bradford Park Avenue Football Club

Founded: 1907 (reformed 1988)
Stadium: Horsfall Stadium
Capacity: 3,500 (1,800 seated)
Nickname: The Avenue, BPA
Manager: Mark Bower
League Position: 7th
Top Scorer: Oli Johnson (13)

Bradford Park Avenue may be a name unheard of by many, but they are one of the only football clubs in the National League to play in all of the top four divisions of English football.

This was before liquidating and going out of business in 1974. Since reforming in 1988, they have had to climb the regional pyramid of Engish Football.

This is BPA’s fourth season in the National League North, since finally gaining promotion to the league for the first time in 8 years in 2012.

The Avenue are now looking good for promotion once more, which would see them reach their highest level of football since 1969.

BPA manager Mark Bower, who played for City back in 2001, lead the side into the play-offs going into the New Year. Bradford won 6 out 7 matches on an incredible run in December, which saw them rise to fourth in the table.

However, The Avenue are yet to win a game in 2018, after drawing with 1-1 with Curzon Ashton on New Years Day and loosing 2-1 to Spennymoor Town in the last outing. They are now seventh, and they will drop out of the playoffs with defeat at Bootham Crescent on Saturday.

In his match notes on BPA’s wbesite, Bower was considerate of the reverse fixture when City beat BPA 5-0 at the Horsfall Stadium. Nonetheless, he is confident his players can thrive on the bigger stage and produce a winning performence at Bootham Crescent.

They are a massive club to be playing at this level and were a Football League club only two seasons ago.

Our 5-0 home defeat back in August is still fresh in the memory and I know that applies to the players also, so we know that if our standards are not where they should be we could be in for a long afternoon.

But we have plenty of Football League experience in our dressing room and we have thrived at some of the bigger grounds this season. I’m sure our players will enjoy the bigger stage on Saturday and produce a performance to match.

Mark Bower

Head to head record

Captain fantastic: Sean Newton was on the scoresheet against BPA back in august. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

Last time out: City hit five without reply, as goals from Daniel Parslow, Amari Morgan-Smith (2), Sean Newton, and a Luca Havern (OG) sealed a 5-0 victory at the Horsfall stadium back in August. Yes that’s right… City scored five goals without Jon Parkin!

The two sides have a fairly close competetive head to head record. Having played eachother on 38 previous occasions, York City have the winning edge with 18 victories to BPA’s 13 and 7 games finished a draw.

The last time the two sides met at Bootham Crescent, was the last time the two sides were in the same league – nearly 50 years ago. City won a Division Four match 4-1 at home and finished 13th that season, as opposed to BPA who finished bottom of the league, despite winning the reverse fixture against City 2-0.

Higgs predicts

I’m going for a hat-trick of correct results this week, after getting the last two bang on the money!

This one could go either way, despite the 5-0 drubbing that City gave out to The Avenue last time. Bradford will be well up for this one, having not picked up a victory yet in 2018 and are now having to defend their playoff status.

City however look a shadow of the side that went four without a win in December. If they continue to play the football on display in last week’s Darlington victory, there is no reason why they won’t be in 7th spot come 5’oclock on Saturday.

Higgs predicts: York City 3-1 Bradford Park Avenue

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