York City return home looking to bounce back to winning ways this weekend, as Alfreton Town visit Bootham Crescent.
Feb 24th 2018, 3pm KO
It was a dismal display by the Minstermen in last week’s 4-1 defeat away at Curzon Ashton, not helped by Adriano Moke’s Instagram war soon after.
Manager Martin Gray was left furious after that game, slamming his players’ lack of character.
Gray ordered the squad in for training on Sunday morning without a day off ahead of Saturday’s home game against another team who like to attack in Alfreton Town.
York City fans will be hoping to put last week’s game from hell well behind them and return to that winning feeling they had from the Salford match two weeks ago.
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York City preview
11 cup finals
Last week’s disaster has probably taught Martin Gray more about his squad than he has ever known.
Gray described it as a ‘disgrace’, the worst he has felt since he came to the club, and identified a ‘lack of character’ as the main downfall of his team after conceding three goals in half-an-hour.
Gray wants winners and more leadership in his squad.
He has spent most of this week trying to get across to his players the level of disappointment felt among City’s supporters after the Curzon game, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He said:
I was hurt.
You don’t become a bad team overnight. It was a horrendous weekend, but the week before we were performing at our best.
Leadership, winners, that’s what we need. We’ve got 11 cup finals now and have got to give the crowd something to shout about.
The fans were fantastic against Salford. Why? Because we performed to our best, and we’ve got to make sure we get back that desire and hunger to win again.
I’ll never accept that again (Curzon result), they know that, but equally within the last 8-9 games we’ve had some real strong performances, and one very poor one. So we’ve got to get back to being a very strong and disciplined team.
Do your talking on the pitch
A football fan can only ask a player to perform at his best week in week out. If you offend a fan as a player, the best way to make up is by doing just that.
Moke has been on the offensive since spreading his distasteful comments on social media this week, but Martin Gray has told the midfielder to apologise with his feet on Saturday.
Speaking on his thoughts on Moke’s situation, Gray said:
“I won’t accept that from no players, and he knows that. He’s got to come out now and show some great performances, you can apologise, but the fans will only take that for so long, he’s got to back it up on the pitch.”
“The players need to be able to take criticism when they perform badly. You can’t get involved in stupidity like he has and hopefully it’s been an expensive lesson for him.”
No Parkin, no problem?
Last week’s disappointment was topped off by Jon Parkin’s silly sending off and City will now be without their top scorer for the next three matches.
Alex Kempster was the only highlight from last week’s game, scoring after just ten minutes of being on the field and he will be high up in Grays plans for Saturday’s match.
However, Raul Correia told the media that this is an opportunity to show York fans what he can really do, after only scoring once in his seven games played for the club.
The striker scored in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Rotherham, but he is being patient in his approach to game time:
We came in on Sunday and we had to lay out what we can do to make sure that (Curzon result) doesn’t happen again.
Jon is out for three games now, hopefully that is my chance to show what I can do.
You’ve just got to take it as it comes and do your best. I think as a team, we’ve just got to worry about ourselves. We don’t have targets, we just want to take it game by game.
There are two huge positives for City ahead of Saturday. Alex Pattison was brought off early with injury against Curzon, but will be fit to play on Saturday after training for most of the week.
Meanwhile, Connor Brown will be available for selection and will not be suspended for the game, despite rumours that he would be.
The right back has picked up four yellow cards for the Minstermen so far, but his 11 for Guiseley will not rule him out, as bookings from the division above do not count in this instance.
Alfreton Town preview
Stadium: North Street
Capacity: 3,600 (1,500 seated)
Nickname: The Reds
Colours: All red (Blue away)
Manager: Chris Moyses
League Position: 17th
Top Scorer: Craig Westcarr (11)
Alfreton Town are now a well established club at this level, having pottered around the top two non-league divisions since 2003.
After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, the Derbyshire outfit find themselves floating precariously above the drop zone once more this season.
The Red’s have experienced a patchy vein of form this season. A spell of five matches unbeaten between August and September was followed by a run of 10 defeats from 12 games between October and January.
They sacked manager John McDermott at the beginning of January and brought in former Lincoln City manager Chris Moyses.
His arrival seemed to have turned results around dramatically, as the Reds picked up 14 points from a possible 18 in 6 games between January and February.
However, they have lost their last two games and may be finding themselves on the spiral again. Saying that, Tuesday night’s 4-3 defeat to new league leaders Harrogate Town will be a huge confidence boost ahead of their trip to York.
Town were 4-0 down at half time, but in a game of two halves, they brought the score back to 4-3 and were desperately unlucky to not come away with a point in the end.
Despite being only 5 points above the drop, Alfreton are the highest scoring team outside the top seven and have only scored 4 less goals than City this season. It would be foolish not to consider them to be a threat on Saturday.
Man to watch: Nyal Bell
Former Rochdale striker Nyal Bell hasn’t really been given a fair crack of the whip in his career so far, after being restricted for game time by his previous clubs.
However, after signing for Alfreton on loan from Gateshead on Monday, the 21-year-old came off the bench to score two goals on his debut appearance for the Reds against Harrogate Town on Tuesday night.
After one of the best performances of his career, Bell is now expected to start on Saturday, and if he does, he will be full of confidence and a real danger for the City defence.
Last time out: City came out on top of a five goal thriller in an incredible game at the North Street stadium back in October. City went in front twice through Aidan Connolly and Jon Parkin, but were pegged back twice by Cieran Keane and a 35-yard rocket freekick from Brendan Daniels. Late drama followed, as Parkin stuck away a penalty to make it 3-2, and debutant keeper Adam Bartlett saved a penalty to win the game for the Minstermen.
Alfreton were winners in the one and only recorded competitive meeting between the two sides at Bootham Crescent. The Reds ran away 1-0 winners in City’s promotion winning 2011/2012 National League season, thanks to a single Levi Mackin penalty on the stroke of half time.
Alfreton’s Craig Westcarr and Brendan Daniels have 20 goals between them this season, which is 8 goals more than City’s second and third top scorers’ tally put together (Aidan Connolly and Sean Newton).
City have only kept four clean sheets at home all season, while Alfreton have only failed to score twice away from home all season.