The matchday preview: York City on the road again at Tamworth

York are on the road again looking to return to winning ways. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography
2 Feb 2018 @ 4.00 pm
| Sport

York City are looking to get back to winning ways this weekend, as they hit the road for a second week to face Tamworth on Saturday.

Tamworth vs York City

EST Electrical Services Stadium

Feb 3rd 2018, 3pm KO

The Minstermen lost their six-match unbeaten record when they were beaten for the first time in 2018, 2-0 away at Stockport last week.

A terrible pitch at Stockport made any kind of ‘Barca style of play’ impossible last week, but City face a totally different challenge of playing on an artificial surface at Tamworth’s Lamb ground.

The last time City played on a fake pitch ended in a 2-0 defeat away at Harrogate, but the message is clear that ‘no excuses’ will be heard should City not run away with victory this time around.

National League North Table

Scroll horizontally to see all the info

1Salford City28194550282261
2Harrogate Town28175666353156
3Brackley Town271410348242452
4Spennymoor Town26146652401248
5Kidderminster Harriers271210549292046
6York City28136953421145
7Blyth Spartans271411258461243
8Bradford P A27117943331040
9Stockport County28117105243940
11Boston United27115114545038
12FC United of Manchester28106124553-836
14Alfreton Town28103154546-133
17Gainsborough Trinity2794143249-1731
20Curzon Ashton2679103041-1130
21AFC Telford United2583143346-1327
22North Ferriby Utd2715211370-578

York City preview

Parkin to sit out

Parkin not to be risked on the 3G surface. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

York City top scorer Jon Parkin will not travel to Tamworth on Saturday.

City manager Martin Gray announced earlier this week that the striker will not be risked on the 3G surface at Tamworth, as City want him fit for the remaining 14 matches.

The players have been training on York St John University’s 3G pitches this week in preparation for the game and Gray told the media on Thursday that there will be ‘no excuses’ should City lose on Saturday.

When asked about how the players will approach the playing surface on Saturday, Gray said:

There’s no excuses really, you certainly can’t blame the bobble!

The ball is true, and the Tamworths and the Harrogates do get used to that, so it does maybe give them the slight advantage.

It’s something you have to adapt to, but it’s not as if we are playing on the beach.

What we have trained on this week has been as good as anywhere. The players know what we expect and the standards we have to maintain at this football club.

We have to make sure that the winning mentality comes through on Saturday.

Martin Gray

A new system?

Martin Gray has kept his cards close to his chest for this weekend. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

York finished with a back three last week, after looking much more comfortable defensively in the second half at Stockport.

Manager Martin Gray brought veteran defender Dan Parslow on at half time, and he played in the middle of a back three with Hamza Bencherif and Jonny Burn.

This allowed City to use two wing backs in Connor Brown and Adriano Moke, which seemed to push City up the pitch with a lot more ease than in the first half.

The possibilily of York sticking to this formation is a strong one, and manager Martin Gray confirmed on Thursday (Feb 3rd) that he is pondering over keeping the system for kickoff on Saturday.

We looked to play higher up the pitch with wing backs, and I thought Connor Brown and Adriano Moke got into some great areas.

The distribution from the back three was very good. What is great about it is that we have three natural centre halves. Dan Parslow did great in the middle, while Jonny Burn and Hamza stepped out on the ball well.

So it’s something that we have in our mind that we could work with going forward.

Martin Gray

Parslow’s chance

Parslow comfortable in a back three. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

Veteran defender Dan Parslow is no stranger to a back three, after previously winning promotion with Cheltenham Town to the Football League playing in one.

Parslow is 13 appearances behind the top ten most appearances made list for York City, and the back three system may be a window for him to eventually break into it.

The 32-year-old’s contract is up at the end of the season. However, the defender hopes to stick around much longer than that:

I played in a back three at Cheltenham when we won promotion to the Football League, so it’s something I am used to.

The likes of Jonny and Hamza have played it before as well so if we do switch to a back three like we did on Saturday, we’ll all be comfortable with it.

I’m extremely proud to have played so many games for this football club. To get into that top 10 would be a huge achievement, it’s something I would never have seen coming playing as a 21-year-old under Bill McEwan.

I am out this summer, but there is still plenty of football to be played. I’m just hoping to get into the team, prove my worth and hopefully things will take care of themselves.

Tamworth preview

A battling win for Tamworth last time out. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography
Tamworth Football Club
Founded: 1933
Stadium: The Lamb Ground
Capacity: 4,565 (518 seated)
Nickname: The Lambs
Manager: Andy Morrell
League Position: 13th
Top Scorer: Darryl Knights (8)

Since being relegated to the 6th division in 2014, Tamworth have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league.

The last successful season for the Lambs came when ex York boss Gary Mills guided them to promotion to the National League back in 2009, before he joined City in the summer of that year.

Current manager Andy Morrell revitalised the club when he joined in 2015, achieving twelve wins in a row to narrowly miss out on the playoffs that season.

Morell’s side looked promotion contenders at the beginning of this season. They achieved six wins and two draws from their first eleven matches, with top scorer Reece Styche taking the league by storm.

However, the striker’s departure to Darlington in November seemed to have put a dagger in the club’s promotion hopes, after picking up only eight points from a possible 27 since his departure.

The Staffordshire side are unbeaten in their last two home matches, but disappointing away results against Boston United and Spennymoor Town have meant that momentum has been hard to come by in 2018.

Man to watch: Callum Powell

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On a 3G playing surface like Tamworth’s, it is tricky little players of Callum Powell’s type that City defenders will dread facing.

The speedy winger has scored in his last two home games for the club, including a stunning effort in the Lambs 2-0 win over Nuneaton Town recently.

Manager Andy Morrell described the 21-year-old as a ‘diamond in the rough’ after signing from Wrexham in the summer. City defenders will have to be on their toes to stop the attacker on Saturday.

Head to head record

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Last time out: A battling second half performance from City couldn’t stop Tamworth running away 3-2 victors at Bootham Crescent back in October. Two goals from now Darlington striker Reece Styche and a late winner from top scorer Darryl Knights sealed victory for the Lambs. This is despite City drawing the game level through Jon Parkin a debut goal for Daniel Rowe.

The two sides have a very close head to head record. After only 15 recorded competitive meetings since 1970, City just have the winning edge with 6 wins to Tamworth’s 5, while 4 matches have finished a draw.

York have not beaten Tamworth in their last four meetings, losing three and drawing one. The last victory came in 2010, when goals from Michael Rankine, Alex Lawless and Jamal Fyfield secured a 3-1 away win for the Minstermen in the National League.

Higgs Predicts

It was a hard decision to predict a loss last week, but I did see it coming…

City will take a lot of positives from the second half at Stockport into this week’s game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gray starts with the same system that finished at Edgeley Park and this could provide a new lease of life for the team in their promotion campaign.

Training on 3G pitches this week has hopefully prepared them well for this one, and if the club secure the signing of Alex Pattison before the weekend, he will seriously boost City’s attacking options ahead of the match.

Tamworth are inconsistent, but have some good individual players, with the likes of Powell, Darryl Knights and Connor Taylor a constant attacking threat for the Lambs. However, if City can contain them and deal with the quick playing surface, I can see a return to winning ways this weekend… fingers crossed.

Higgs Predicts: Tamworth 0-3 York City