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Match preview: York City v Fleetwood Town
LUKE O’NEILL is happy to carry on in the centre of York City’s midfield despite having never played there as a professional prior to Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at Chesterfield.
The on-loan Burnley right-back was converted into his new role by City chief Nigel Worthington at the Proact Stadium and responded with a spectacular 30-yard strike to open the scoring.
He looked at ease in the position but has now revealed that it was his first run-out in the central areas of the pitch since he played junior football.
On his switch, O’Neill said: “The gaffer pulled me to one side the day before the Chesterfield match and asked me what I thought about playing there. I hadn’t played in the centre of midfield since my youth team days at Leicester but I believe in my ability and was happy and confident I could do a job for the team there.
“Along with getting on the scoresheet, I felt I did that and it was nice that the manager had faith in me to play there. The gaffer knows I have not come here as a central midfielder – I have come here as a right-back – but, if I am asked to carry on in midfield, I will do.”
Lanre Oyebanjo returned to right-back for City in midweek with O’Neill lining up in front of Lewis Montrose and alongside Elliott Whitehouse in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Whether O’Neill occupies a central berth tomorrow at home to Fleetwood could depend on whether Worthington retains the same system but the former Mansfield defender felt comfortable with the rookie midfield line-up, saying: “Lewis Montrose was behind us talking all the time.
“He is good at communicating and I thought we got the better of their midfield two.”
O’Neill’s excellent first-half strike represented his sixth senior goal and he has ranked it higher than any other, adding: “It was a good strike and probably one of the best I have scored, if not the best.
“I did score a good free-kick at Mansfield but maybe the one the other night just topped it.”
The ex-England Under-17 international also still intends to confirm whether he has a claim to City’s second goal at Chesterfield.
Initially, it appeared O’Neill had headed past home ’keeper Tommy Lee from a Josh Carson corner on the hour mark but top scorer Ryan Jarvis wheeled away to celebrate in front of City’s fans and later insisted he got a decisive touch.
“I thought the second one was my goal too, until I saw Jarv run off putting his hand up,” O’Neill confessed. “I went up for it and thought their ’keeper just fumbled my header in.
“I haven’t had a chance to look at the DVD yet but I will be doing and I will be having a quiet word with Jarvis if it’s my goal.”
Regardless of the identity of Tuesday night’s marksmen, however, O’Neill reasoned that taking a 2-0 lead against the long-time League Two table-toppers and then holding on for a point will provide a big boost ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with the Spireites’ fellow high-fliers Fleetwood.
He said: “It would have been better to get three points but taking a point at Chesterfield is still a good result. After the disappointment of the Newport game, we had to stay positive and play as a team at Chesterfield and we did really well, which gives us confidence going into tomorrow’s game.
“Fleetwood are strong and physical but I think we have some good players and, if we are bright, we can get a good result, especially being at home.”
O’Neill was also pleased to perform well in front of Burnley boss Sean Dyche at Chesterfield, who was at the Proact Stadium to check on his progress.
No further discussions have taken place concerning O’Neill’s future once his loan spell ends next month but the Championship hopeful said: “I heard he was coming so I was trying to impress him as well.
“I am just happy to be playing games but it’s obviously always good to do well in front of your parent club’s manager.”
Cod Army angling to end dearth of goals
FLEETWOOD Town will be hoping to avoid a third successive League game without scoring for the first time since winning promotion from the Conference when they visit York City.
The Cod Army have suffered back-to-back defeats after firing blanks against Southend (2-0) and Scunthorpe (1-0) but are still League Two’s third-top scorers with 20 goals – just one behind current table-toppers Rochdale and fourth-placed Oxford.
Former Kidderminster marksman Jamille Matt could also earn a recall to pep up Fleetwood’s attack having been left out of the first XI during the last two defeats.
Matt is fifth-placed Fleetwood’s top scorer this season with six goals despite starting just seven games.
Ex-City pair Matty Blair and Jon Parkin have both netted three times, meanwhile, but could be sweating on their starting places after featuring in the disappointing defeat to Scunthorpe.
All of Blair’s goals have come in the six substitute outings he has made from ten appearances for his new club since leaving North Yorkshire in the summer.
Parkin, who moved on from Bootham Crescent back in February 2004, has also been more potent from the bench, notching twice after entering the fray in the second half, having only kicked off two matches this term.
Another former Minsterman, Charlie Taylor, has been brought in on loan to cover at left-back for Dean Howell, who has suffered ankle ligament damage.
But the 20-year-old Leeds United defender, who played five times for City last season and has also been loaned out to Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Bradford City in the past, has tasted defeat during both of his appearances so far.
After starting 12 matches this season, meanwhile, City summer target Ryan Cresswell was dropped to the bench for the Scunthorpe game, which was settled by a heavily-deflected Sam Winnall goal.
The 2012 Conference champions will arrive at Bootham Crescent, however, having won four of their league matches on the road this term.
That is a record that only Oxford and Burton can match in the bottom echelon of the Football League.
Fleetwood (probable): Davies, Hogan, Pond, Roberts, Taylor, Blair, Evans, Hughes, Brown, Matt, Parkin.
THIS is Fleetwood Town’s fourth visit to Bootham Crescent and they have been successful on each of their last two trips.
The first time the clubs met here was in February 2011 in the Blue Square Premier and City won 1-0 thanks to a Jamie Reed goal.
The following campaign both clubs won promotion to the Football League and Richard Brodie netted the only goal at York in Fleetwood’s victory.
Last term in the corresponding fixture the Cod Army won 2-0 on October 2, 2012 and City lined up: Ingham, Challinor, C Smith, Doig, Fyfield, Parslow (Bullock), McLaughlin (Taylor), Blair, Coulson (Johnson), Walker, Chambers.
Along with Matty Blair, Jon Parkin, above, and Richard Brodie, others to have played for both clubs include Peter Till and Scott Brown.
It happened on October 26
1957: City drew 2-2 at home to Gateshead in Division Three North watched by 6,898. On target were Peter Wragg and John Metcalfe.
1962: Oxford United won 2-1 at Bootham Crescent in the Fourth Division (League Two) in front of 5,215. Barry Jackson was the scorer and in United’s side was Ron Atkinson.
1974: A Bootham Crescent crowd of 9,581 saw Bolton Wanderers win a Second Division (Championship) encounter 3-1. Ian Holmes scored from the penalty spot and Sam Allardyce was on the scoresheet for the Trotters.
1985: Dale Banton, right, scored both goals in a 2-1 home win over Rotherham United in the Third Division (League One). The attendance was 4,444.
Compiled by David Batters
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