York City v Southport
Tue 21st Mar
Following the understandable massed euphoria surrounding York City securing themselves a fifth Wembley appearance in just eight years with a tremendous backs-to-the wall aggregate semi-final victory against favourites Lincoln City in the FA Trophy, it's absolutely imperative they collect maximum points at the expense of bottom-of-the table Southport at Bootham Crescent this evening.
The Minstermen will take on fellow former winners Macclesfield Town at the national stadium on May 21st, but the crucial question is whether those two clubs will still be sharing the same league next season. Macclesfield still retain definite aspirations of getting out of it from the right end, whereas for their opponents the situation is currently a whole lot more serious and potentially far-reaching.
As in their famous 'Wembley-twice' year of 2012, the FA Trophy has once again become something of a beautiful distraction for York, and those who continue to belittle its relevance should perhaps pay heed to manager Gary Mills' comments of just how important the competition was to both him and the club while securing its Football League return during his first spell in charge. He often relates that without the Trophy success there would probably have been no subsequent glorious promotion.
However, in the final analysis a distraction is all that it is given their still dreadfully precarious league position, and the real business starts again with the arrival of relegation rivals Southport - who are themselves on a serious decline and without a victory in their previous ten games while losing nine - as the search for vital league points gets ever-more frantic with each passing game.
"We now know what we're capable of and what we are," manager Gary Mills told BBC Radio York. "It's about us, it's about what we do, it's about what I do or [assistant] Darren Caskey does with the players. And our job is to make sure that they're totally focused on what this game is. But it's still a game of football. And it's ninety minutes, plus three, four minutes, whatever we get on top of that. So there's two goals, four corner flags, a referee; it's no different. The only thing that becomes different is the mental side. We've got to make sure the mental side of it is with the players totally focused on the job ahead."
York City Team News:
Left-sided defender or midfielder Sam Muggleton, he of the enormously lengthy throw-in, could earn an immediate debut having moved from Eastleigh until the end of the season. That's because Alex Whittle [hamstring] and Yan Klukowski [calf] recently joined longer-term victims Lanre Oyebanjo [thigh], Matt Fry [knee], Simon Lappin [Achilles] and Clovis Kamdjo [knee] on the sidelines. On loan midfielder Asa Hall is set for a final appearance prior to being recalled by parent club Cheltenham Town.
York City (probable): Letheren, Rooney, Bencherif, Parslow, Heslop, Hall, Newton, Muggleton, Oliver, Parkin, Morgan-Smith
subs (from): Connolly, Moke, Holmes, Fenwick, Simpson, Walton
Player to watch: Sam Muggleton
Played seventeen games for League Two outfit Barnet this season prior to joining Eastleigh for an undisclosed fee in January.
Southport Team News:
Former York striker Richard Brodie is included in the squad having been an unused substitute at the weekend. But Jack Higgins is ineligible to face his parent club while one-time City loanee Jordan Lussey is still out following ankle surgery. Defender Neil Ashton and eleven-goal leading marksman Jamie Allen both face fitness tests.
Southport (probable): King, McKeown, White, Murray, R Higgins, Jones, Nolan, Stevenson, Grimes, Weeks, Almond
Player to watch: Richard Brodie
Few would have expected him to reappear again at Bootham Crescent this season - but rejoined Southport at the end of last week.
Match Facts & Stats
Southport were actually victorious for the first time in four attempts at this level on their most recent visit back in March 2012, when Andy Owens and Tony Gray were both on target during the second-half before Jamie Reed replied for the then FA Trophy finalists. Team: Ingham, Challinor, Smith, Parslow, Fyfield (Moke), Gibson (McLaughlin), Meredith, Oyebanjo, Blair, Reed, Chambers (Blinkhorn).
The Minstermen were though more successful the previous season, but only following a couple of very late goals from Leon Constantine (pen) and David McDermott earning them a 2-0 triumph. Team: Ingham, Parslow, McGurk, C. Smith, Meredith, Weir, J. Smith (McDermott), Racchi, Chambers, Rankine (Constantine), Till (Fyfield).
The earlier couple of meetings at Bootham Crescent were both drawn. Meanwhile, during the two clubs' respective Football League days, the visitors won nine and drew eleven of 32 clashes; although York notably achieved their record 9-1 league victory against Southport in front of an 8,801 attendance on 2nd February 1957.
York - Dagenham (A); Southport - Boreham Wood (H)
Tuesday's Games: Aldershot v Dagenham; Barrow v Wrexham; Boreham Wood v Lincoln; Braintree v Woking; Chester v Macclesfield; Forest Green v Solihull Moors; Gateshead v Guiseley; Maidstone v Sutton; North Ferriby v Tranmere; Torquay v Eastleigh; York City v Southport