York City skipper Russell Penn thrives on leading role
YORK CITY captain Russell Penn said he “readily” took the armband when it was offered by manager Nigel Worthington.
The midfielder, a transfer window capture from Cheltenham, will keep the post for the rest of the season having skippered the Minstermen through an unbeaten February.
Penn was club captain in Gloucestershire and got the nod at Bootham Crescent following injury to David McGurk.
With the talismanic defender finding John McCombe and Keith Lowe in his way as he tries to get back into the side, Worthington has turned to 28-year-old Penn, who said he was surprised at the speed of his elevation.
“It has all happened really quickly to be honest,” he explained.
“When I came here David McGurk was the captain but, unfortunately for him, he took a knock and McCombe and Lowe have put together a partnership.
“The gaffer offered me the responsibility and I openly took it.
“I had it for a year at Cheltenham and I think I am at that age now where I know the league well.
“I have been around the game a bit and I just understand it so it was offered to me and I took it readily.”
Penn added that he likes to lead “by example” and sees his job as trying to drive the team on.
“He also said he was buoyed by the number of leaders on the pitch.
“The lads have welcomed me with open arms, and that’s the main thing,” he explained.
“The gaffer is always saying ‘one old man and 11 leaders’ and that’s what we need.
“I only go for the toss up at kick off and try to show my passion and drive on the team. I lead by example.
“I am not really a big mouth. I’ll say my stuff in the changing room beforehand and the lads don’t need me to tell them what to do.
“I drive them on and, if they can back me up, then great. I think we have got a lot of voices. We have Lowe and McCombe and I think the more noise the better.
“It gets enthusiasm and confidence going and that’s the way I believe a good team will progress.”
Penn’s stewardship has seen victories at Fleetwood and Plymouth, along with draws against Cheltenham and Southend, and he is hoping for home comforts tomorrow when York entertain Exeter.
He said: “Results have picked up and we are looking forward rather than back.
“Even though the league is really tight we are going into games with confidence knowing we are picking up points here, there and everywhere.
“We just want to keep that going until the end of the season and we will be fine.”
“We are aware of that, we are working on it and it is more of the same and just trying to get the cherry on the cake by the goal or goals to get the three points.
“They are working and training very well. There is a brightness and a spark in them and that has to be important over the next 13 games.
“We must keep looking forward, keep pushing – without putting too much pressure on the players because you want them to relax and go and perform. The last two performances at home, for me, have been very solid. There has been a lot of good stuff there and it is just about that final little bit of trying to get over the line.”
On Exeter, he added: “They are a very good footballing side and they want to pass that ball. They have had a few disappointments in recent games results-wise. We have watched them and they are decent – make no mistake about that.
“As always, if we do our own job properly and thoroughly and go and put on the field some of the training we do then, hopefully, come ten to five on Saturday afternoon, we won’t be far away.”
Worthington was also hopeful of progress in keeping Will Hayhurst at the club.
The youngster’s loan spell ends following the Exeter clash but the former Northern Ireland manager has been in touch with chiefs at Deepdale and is hopeful of brokering an extension – ideally until the end of the season.
Exeter City have made 20 past Football League trips, winning nine times and drawing three.
They have been successful on each of their last four League visits – 3-0 in 2000/1, 3-2 in 2001/2, 2-0 in 2002/3 and 2-1 last term. City’s last home win against the Grecians was 3-0 in 1993/94 and their biggest victory was 6-1 in 1960/61.
The Devon club made four Conference visits between 2005 and 2008 with City winning twice and drawing once.
The corresponding game last season was played on January 5, 2013 and the line-up was: Ingham, Parslow, Smith, McGurk, Fyfield (Oyebanjo), Potts (J Reed), Kerr, McLaughlin, Blair, Walker (Allan), Rodman.
Exeter won 2-1 watched by 2,506 with Michael Potts the scorer of the consolation goal. The defeat heralded the start of a run of 16 games without a win.
Players who have appeared for both clubs include John Edgar, Barry Pierce, Tom Kelly, Gary Howlett, Craig Farrell, Manny Panther, Artur Krysiak and Jon Challinor, with Bobby Saxton a managerial link.
It happened on March 1
1958: Mansfield Town were beaten 3-1 at Bootham Crescent in Division Three North to end a run of four home league games without a win. Billy Hughes, Norman Wilkinson and Peter Wragg were on the scoresheet.
1965: City moved up to second in Division Four (League Two) following a 5-1 home win over Newport County in a snowstorm. In front of 5,957, Andy Provan (2), Norman Wilkinson, Paul Aimson were the marksmen, supplemented by an own goal.
1983: A 2-0 home victory against Crewe Alexandra with Denis Smith and Keith Walwyn the marksmen. The crowd for this Fourth Division (League Two) encounter was 2,975.
1997: City and Luton Town drew 1-1 at Bootham Crescent in Division Two (League One) in front of 3,788 with Neil Tolson on target.
Compiled by David Batters
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