TOP-OF-THE-TABLE Gillingham will arrive at Bootham Crescent to take on York City hoping to end a run that has seen them taste victory in only one of their last five fixtures.
The Gills are five points clear at the top of League Two, but have been blighted by poor form in recent weeks and are without back-to-back wins since early November.
While a 2-1 away victory against fellow high-fliers Rotherham hinted at a resumption of their early-season dominance, a stuttering 2-2 home draw with Fleetwood last Saturday signalled a return to the form that saw them drop points against 19th-placed Accrington and play-off hopefuls Exeter.
Fleetwood raced into a 2-0 advantage within half-an-hour at the Priestfield Stadium and Gillingham had to rely on goals from Charlie Lee and Myles Weston just to scrape a point.
While boss Martin Allen was thrilled by the team’s fightback, stating that “the second-half performance was up there with the best that we’ve had all season,” his side’s uncharacteristic frailty in defence must have proved worrying.
The Gills boast the meanest defensive record in the division, but have shipped more goals at the Priestfield Stadium (11) than they have on their travels (nine).
Allen’s side also boast the joint-best away record in the league, having picked up more points on the road (24) than they have at home (21).
All this stands them in good stead heading into tomorrow’s fixture, when they will do battle with a side who have often looked out of sorts when playing at Bootham Crescent.
Gillingham will also be boosted by a goalscoring unit who have been more than happy to share the burden over the first half of the season.
While top-scorer Danny Kedwell’s tally of 11 goals is hardly earth-shattering, fellow striker Deon Burton has weighed in with nine and the Gills boast 15 other scorers this term.
Midfielders Myles Weston (six), Chris Whelpdale (four) and Lee (two) have all contributed, easing the pressure on the frontmen and ensuring that manager Allen has never been preoccupied with where his side’s goals are coming from. Allen is sure to face selection headaches ahead of tomorrow’s game.
Weston’s second-half performance last week has left him well in the hunt for a starting spot, while six members of the squad are a single yellow card away from suspension.
Gillingham: (probable) Nelson; Fish, Jackson, Davies, Barrett; Whelpdale, Lee, Allen, Weston; Kedwell, Burton.
Gillingham – making their first visit to Bootham Crescent since 1998 – have made 18 previous Football League trips winning five times and drawing six.
The clubs first met at York in March 1959 when City won 3-1. The biggest victory was in November 1984 when Keith Houchen hit a hat trick in a 7-1 triumph. Also on the scoresheet that day were Alan Pearce (2), Keith Walwyn and an opponent.
Another hat-trick man was John Stainsby in a 4-0 victory in January 1962, while the Gills’ biggest win here was 3-0 in September 1962.
The last meeting here was on August 15, 1998 when a Second Division (League Two) encounter was drawn 1-1 with Richard Cresswell the scorer. City’s line-up was: Mimms, McMillan, Jones, Thompson, Connelly, Pouton, Tinkler, Garratt, Hall, Rowe (Woods), Cresswell (Prendergast).
Making his debut that day for City was goalkeeper Bobby Mimms and manager of Gillingham at the time was Tony Pulis, now Stoke City’s boss.
Players who have represented both clubs include ’keeper Ron Hillyard, who went on to make 563 Football League appearances for the Gills and forwards John Edgar, Paul Baker and Leo Fortune-West.
It happened on December 22
1951: Billy Fenton was the marksman in a 1-0 Division Three North win at Chester.
1956: A 3-3 draw at Tranmere Rovers in the Northern Section with goals from Arthur Bottom, Norman Wilkinson and Peter Wragg.
1962: City lost 3-2 at Doncaster Rovers and were 23rd in the Fourth Division. Walter Bingley (pen) and Roy Ambler were on target and owing to the big freeze City did not play in the League again until March 8.
1973: A run of 11 games without conceding a goal – equalling a Football League record – ended with a 2-2 draw at Aldershot. The Shots had been the last club to score against City back on September 29. Scorers were Jimmy Seal and John Woodward and City were third in Division Three (League One).
2006: Clayton Donaldson, above, scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Halifax Town at Bootham Crescent in front of 3,588. City were third in the Conference.
Compiled by Dave Batters