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David McGurk’s grind faith
YORK City centre-back David McGurk believes the club are better equipped to grind out results against the likes of tonight’s hosts Accrington Stanley than they were during the clubs’ last meeting more than six years ago.
McGurk was a member of the City side that lost 4-2 at home to Accrington back in March 2006 when the visitors were closing in on the Conference title.
City would go on to fall just short of the play-off places during Billy McEwan’s first full season at Bootham Crescent despite the likes of Andy Bishop and Clayton Donaldson grabbing goals on a regular basis in an exciting team.
Both strikers found the net in that 2006 encounter as City led 2-1 at the break but table-topping Stanley, aided by a dubious penalty decision when Jamie Price was punished for an allegedly deliberate handball, steam-rollered their hosts in the second half with striker Paul Mullin adding to his earlier goal, David Brown converting from 12 yards and Ian Craney completing the scoring as Bishop saw a late spot-kick saved.
Accrington have since spent the last seven seasons in the Football League but, having belatedly followed them out of the Conference last summer, McGurk now believes City’s class of 2012/13 can combine attractive football with a battle-hardened desire to scrap for points.
He said: “The last time we played Accrington, we came out fired up and played well but they were top of the table and taught us a bit of a lesson. Ian Craney basically ran the show for them in midfield and that was our downfall that season.
“We were an eye-catching side but, when it got a bit tough, we were unable to grind out results, which isn’t the case any more.”
The 30-year-old City centre-back also reckons that visiting Accrington’s modest Crown Ground for a midweek fixture will present no problems for this season’s side, saying: “Accrington will always be one of the less attractive games at this level with their small changing rooms and crowds but we’re used to going to places like that, having been in the Conference for so long.
“We know how to grind out results at these types of grounds, as well as being able to play football when we need to. It will also be good to see Will Hatfield again because he was a popular lad while he was here.”
McGurk is not, however, expecting an easier contest against Accrington than when they were powering their way to automatic promotion in the Conference.
The likes of Craney and prolific striker Andy Mangan might have moved on to Rochdale and Fleetwood respectively, while Mullin has hung up his boots, but McGurk will not be under-estimating tonight’s 16th-placed hosts, adding: “I’ve been surprised with the standard in League Two.
“I said all along that I did not think there was a lot of difference with the Conference but I think there is now. Teams are a lot more organised.
“There are no gimmees at home or teams you can roll over and you have to work really hard for every result. Perhaps, at the end of the season, the bottom five or six teams will probably not be as strong as the top five or six in the Conference but, before, I thought there were more that you could say that about.”
Having made the bench for the last two matches after more than nine months since his last start due to calf, throat and knee problems, McGurk is also ready to answer the call should he be needed against Accrington.
“I can’t wait to get back playing,” he said.
“I’ve been training hard and playing all the reserve games so I’m just waiting for my chance and making sure I’m 100 per cent when that opportunity comes along so I keep the shirt.”
How it was back then
City (v Accrington on March 25, 2006): Porter, Price, McGurk, Dudgeon (Hotte), Peat, Convery, Panther, N Bishop (Thomas), Dunning (O’Neill), Donaldson, A Bishop.
Number One selling UK single at the time: No Tomorrow (Orson).
It also happened on this day: Reading secure top-flight football for the first time in their 135-year history. They also become the first post-War club to gain promotion to England’s top division in March.