York City boss Worthington insists all the pressure is on Fleetwood
Updated 3:01pm Thursday 15th May 2014 in Sport
YORK City boss Nigel Worthington reckons all the pressure is on play-off opponents Fleetwood Town as his team head for Lancashire to overturn a 1-0 semi-final, first leg deficit.
A goal from former City hero Matty Blair separated the two teams during Monday's match at Bootham Crescent but Worthington believes that could give tomorrow's hosts a dilemma as they settle on their approach at an expectant Highbury Stadium.
Cod Army boss Graham Alexander has already admitted that he is undecided whether to recall Alan Goodall from suspension as a more defensive alternative to Steven Schumacher in his team's midfield holding role.
Worthington, though, feels his side's gameplan will be more straightforward, reasoning: "We have been the underdogs all along the way. We are the minnows out of the four play-off teams and it's fantastic to be where we are but we want to progress further.
"The only pressure we are under is that we are a goal behind but we have got 90 minutes to get back into the game as long as we keep a clean sheet. I think there is more pressure on them because they are at home and a goal to the good.
"They have got to think about whether they come out and try and nick another one or do they sit back and invite pressure. However they approach it, though, we will be on their cases."
Following sluggish first halves in the Minstermen's last two matches, Worthington has also reiterated that the team cannot afford another slow opening.
He added: "We have had a good second 45 minutes at Scunthorpe and a good second 45 minutes in the first leg. There is a little saying in football though - once is a one-off, twice is a coincidence and three times is a disaster.
"It is important - and I cannot emphasise this enough - that we kick off from the very first whistle and, then, we are fit and strong enough to last the 90 minutes or however long it takes."
The City chief went on to stress to his players that the game is a matter of "do or die", where a cherished chance to play at the world's most famous football stadium and gain promotion could slip through their grasps.
"It's all or nothing now," he explained. "It's black or white - there are no grey areas.
"If you win the tie, you are in the final. If you don't, you're looking at your holidays and, as much as I am ready for one, I know I won't be for another two weeks if it all ends at Fleetwood.
"There is a momentous prize at the end of this game - the chance to play at Wembley on a fantastic day. If you could then get promotion that would be one hell of an achievement from where the club has been to where we are now.
"Everybody is in great spirits and looking forward to the game. We know what we have to do and it's about having cool heads and the belief to make it happen."
The away-goal rule is not applied to the Sky Bet Football League play-offs so, should the score at Fleetwood be level on aggregate after 90 minutes, extra-time will be played followed by penalties if the outcome has still to be settled.
If the tie does extend to a shoot-out, Worthington has asked volunteers to be decisive with their spot kicks by following the example of this week's Europa League winners Sevilla.
He said: "There is the potential for it to come to that, so part of the job is practicing your penalties to make sure you are ready for it. I might be putting some forward but it won't be about me choosing individuals.
"It will be about people putting their hands up and that takes a lot of courage. I watched Sevilla v Benfica last night and their two sets of penalties were like chalk and cheese.
"Sevilla's penalties had beef and momentum, whereas Benfica's were a bit flimsy and they were trying to be flash. When it comes to that scenario, you just have to put the ball down, concentrate and hit the back of the net."
Worthington was reluctant, meanwhile, to talk about possible changes for the second leg.
Starting with the team that finished Monday's match could be one option, which would mean Michael Coulson switching from his striking role to the right wing and Ryan Bowman recalled at the expense of Ryan Brobbel.
Lewis Montrose could also come into consideration for a central-midfield berth but the City chief said: "We will be keeping that up our sleeves."
The Minstermen will be roared on by just over a thousand fans with Worthington's only regret that the permitted ticket allocation has prevented many more making the trek over the Pennines.
"Our away support at places like Portsmouth, Plymouth, Torquay and Exeter, or just around the corner at Scunthorpe, has been phenomenal," he enthused. "It's just a shame for our supporters that we couldn't get more tickets because I think we could have filled the ground out, but those are the rules we have to abide by."
Aside from long-term absentees Dan Parslow, Josh Carson and Wes Fletcher, Worthington will have a fully-fit squad to choose from and the City boss has challenged his players to target promotion for the crocked trio.
"We want to do it for them," he confessed. "It would be even better if they were available for selection.
"That's not the case because of the dark side of football, unfortunately, but all three of them are very much part of our set-up and we are making sure they are all involved as difficult as that is for them in their position.
"Prior to their injuries, they did a hell of a lot for the team and club. They are on the road to recovery now and the sooner the better for all of us."
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