YORK City’s new striker Shaquille McDonald has “learned his lesson” after off-field problems led to his four-year contract being terminated by Peterborough United.
McDonald, 18, is grateful for the second chance he has been given by the Minstermen after admitting his career at London Road became “messy”.
The teenage striker was named on the bench four times for Championship matches last season but, after being issued with warnings by Posh for his ill-disiplined behaviour, he was subsequently shown the door by the League One outfit in November.
Trials with Norwich City and Leeds United followed before City chief Nigel Worthington decided to take a punt on McDonald following a recommendation from Peterborough’s director of football Barry Fry.
Having been an unused substitute during the Minstermen’s 3-1 home victory over Dagenham & Redbridge, McDonald is hoping to retain his place in the squad for tomorrow’s Sky Bet League Two clash with Northampton and, on recovering from a chequered start to his football career, he said: “When I got my four-year deal, I had just come from nowhere with Chasetown really.
“Maybe I got too comfortable with my first professional contract and thought I had made it already but stuff started getting messy then. “I have learned my lesson and want to get another big contract like I had before.
“I was scoring goals for the reserves and youth team at Peterborough so I was doing my job on the field but I was hanging around with the wrong people off it. I was getting warnings from the club which I shouldn’t have been doing and was getting too far ahead of myself really.
“By moving to York, I am far away from home and I’m in a house with some of the other lads here. I am in my own room and I can just concentrate on my football, put the past behind me and not make the same mistakes.
“It’s better to have made them now than if I was 23 or 24 though. It might have been harder to get back into the game then.”
During an eventful 2013, McDonald also saw a loan chance at Chester last just 24 minutes earlier this season when he was sent off as a substitute for violent conduct during a 3-1 Conference defeat at Salisbury.
“That was stupid stuff,” he admitted. “I just lost my head, lashed out at a Salisbury player, hit him and got sent off.
“It was all at the same time that I was getting warnings from Peterborough so, when I went back, they could not understand what I was doing because I am a bubbly lad really. I signed my contract halfway through last season and was involved with the first team pretty soon after but ended up getting released in November so the year went from good to bad.
“I’ve got to put it behind me now though and start from afresh.”
Part of that new start has been listening to advice from several experienced figures in the game with McDonald adding: “Where I am now is all thanks to my agent and managers that have been talking to me.
“Brian McDermott took me into his office at Leeds and asked me to explain my situation at Peterborough and told me not to go back to doing the stuff that I was doing. Barry Fry and Chris Hughton, at Norwich, have also spoken to me about it and helped a lot.”
McDonald also feels he can suit Worthington’s favoured 4-4-2 formation with the 5ft 9in forward preferring to play alongside a fellow striker.
“I like to get in between players,” he reasoned. “I’m not a target man because I’m not very big so I like the ball behind defences, down the sides or to my feet so I can turn and run at players. That’s my strength.”
Having witnessed Wes Fletcher and Ryan Bowman both get on the scorsheet against Dagenham, while nine-goal marksman Ryan Jarvis was sidelined by injury, McDonald does realise, however, that he may need to bide his time for a first-team chance.
He said: “Wherever you go, if the two strikers are scoring goals, you can’t do anything apart from be good in training and make sure you do the stuff you can do when you get that opportunity. Wes and Ryan got three goals between them in the last match so they are doing their jobs very well.
“I just want to show that I can work with the forwards here and get goals. I know I can do that.
“I would like to get some first-team experience and five goals-plus between now and the end of the season. I was an unused substitute at Peterborough but never got my debut so my first target and goal is to get on the pitch and show the manager what I can do.”
King in line to reign if City are bested
CARETAKER manager Andy King is expected to be given the Northampton Town job on a permanent basis if tomorrow’s hosts beat York City at Sixfields.
King has taken charge for three away games since replacing Aidy Boothroyd before Christmas and masterminded a 2-1 triumph at Newport last week following a 0-0 draw with Portsmouth and a narrow 1-0 defeat against Burton.
The bottom-of-the-table Cobblers – play-off finalists last term – have not recorded back-to-back wins in League Two this season but, if former Swindon and Mansfield chief King, previously Boothroyd’s assistant, achieves that landmark then he is poised to be handed the job full-time.
But King will need to contend with an injury crisis that now amounts to ten.
Long-term crocks Kelvin Langmead, Lewis Hornby and Alex Nicholls have not featured at all this season, while Danny Emerton became the latest victim after breaking his nose at Newport to join Roy O’Donovan, Clive Platt, Jack Widdowson, Matthias Doumbe, Ian Morris and Ben McNamara on the sidelines.
The Northampton days of strikers O’Donovan and Platt, who have contributed just a goal apiece in 2013/14 during 25 combined league appearances, look numbered anyway.
With a total of just 19 goals from 24 matches, only Championship strugglers Yeovil (18) have a worse goals-for record in the whole Football League and King has now turned to loan pair Hallam Hope and Antonio German, recruited respectively from Everton and Gillingham, to boost the club’s firepower.
Hope, 19, bagged a debut goal at Newport.
Northampton (probable): Duke, Amankwaah, Reid, Collins, Tozer, Hackett, Deegan, Carter, Moyo, Hope, German.
YORK City have made 21 previous Football League trips to Northampton, winning three times and drawing on seven occasions.
They won 2-1 on their first ever trip in October 1958, with Peter Wragg and Colin Addison on the scoresheet, and 2-0 last term on April 13, 2013 when Ashley Chambers and John Johnson (own goal) netted in a vital City victory.
The line-up that day was: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Smith, Allan, O’Connell, Parslow, Reed, Platt, Blair, Cresswell (Walker), Chambers.
The other success was in the 1983/84 Division Four championship-winning campaign when Keith Walwyn netted both goals in a 2-1 scoreline.
The heaviest defeat was 5-0 in 1981/82.
Players who have represented both clubs include goalkepers Peter Pickering and Gordon Morritt along with Ray Warburton, John Mackin, Graham Carr, Steve Senior, David Longhurst, Marco Gabbiadini and Clarke Carlisle.
It happened on January 11
1930: In the club’s first big FA Cup tie Third Division North City drew 1-1 at First Division (Premier League) Newcastle United in the third round. Scottish international Hughie Gallacher gave the Magpies the lead in front of 38,674 with Wally Gardner hitting City’s equaliser. (United won the replay at Fulfordgate 2-1 watched by 12,583).
1939: In the third round of the FA Cup, City lost 5-0 at home to Second Division (Championship) Millwall in front of 6,950.
1958: A 2-2 draw at Bootham Crescent against Oldham Athletic in the Northern Section with Arthur Bottom and Norman Wilkinson, left, the marksmen, watched by 8,502.
1969: Ted MacDougall, Graham Carr, John Coleman and Phil Boyer scored in a 4-0 Fourth Division win at Halifax Town.
1992: A 2-2 draw at Northampton Town in the Fourth Division with goals from Nigel Pepper and Tony Canham.
2011: Leon Constantine was the scorer in a 1-0 home win over Grimsby Town in the Blue Square Premier watched by 3,028.
Compiled by David Batters