TEENAGE defender Tom Allan has admitted that playing in front of York City's travelling army of supporters helped lift his performance on his return to first-team action.
Allan endured a difficult first half during Saturday's 0-0 draw at Sky Bet League Two leaders Rochdale when he was given a tough time by home winger Peter Vincenti.
The York-born, 19-year-old was making his first senior appearance for five months and, because of a knee injury to Ben Davies, was asked to play at left back instead of his preferred central-defensive position.
But, with away fans housed down the touchline rather than behind a goal at Spotland, Allan thrived when the teams changed ends and he was performing in the full gaze of just under a thousand City supporters.
On that experience, he said: "The fans were good. Every time I did something, they were cheering so that gave me a big lift.
"It was hard to get back into it all at first after being out for such a long time. Their big lad on the wing was doing well but I got up to speed and was pleased with my second-half performance."
Surrounded by senior professionals, he also received support out on the pitch, citing two players as being particularly helpful: "Everyone helped me but John McCombe talked to me a lot and Russell Penn did as well."
Allan's appearance on the team sheet in the starting XI for the first time since October will have come as surprise to some but manager Nigel Worthington had decided to give him prior notice, with the youth-team graduate revealing: "I was told I might come in on Thursday because Ben was struggling.
"He then trained on Friday but he was still struggling, so the manager told me I was in and I got the definite go ahead."
Allan has no problem recalling his last first-team outing - the 4-1 home victory over Scunthorpe - but has bigger trouble remembering his most recent competitive match at any level.
That came in the 3-0 reserve defeat to Richmond Town in the North Riding Senior Cup a whopping ten weeks ago.
Game action can be scarce for City's fringe players and, on his quest to stay fit during his long spell out of the side, Allan said: "I think my last match was in the North Riding Cup when we lost. I can't even remember who we played.
"It was away somewhere and a good few months ago. There aren't many games when you are out of the team so you just do your running after games and work on your sharpness after training, doing fast feet and stuff.
"I've also been in the gym a lot with Ian Walbridge at Centurion Fitness and Training. He keeps your strength up so you don't get knocked off the ball and I've just had to sit and wait to get back in the team."
Having made four appearances in a struggling side earlier this season, Allan was thrust back into a team now challenging for a play-off spot and the 6ft 4in youngster reckons Saturday's point will provide a big boost for the Minstermen's top-seven bid.
"Going to the team at the top of the league and getting a clean sheet and a point was a very good result and I am very confident we can stay in the play-off positions," he reasoned. "The mood is very good and we are not losing or conceding goals."
Allan, meanwhile, is one of nine City players out of contract at the end of the season, along with Michael Coulson, Lanre Oyebanjo, Adam Reed, David McGurk, Michael Ingham, Calvin Andrew, Chris Dickinson and Shaq McDonald.
Four other players - Nick Pope, Ben Davies, Will Hayhurst and Ryan Brobbel - will see their loan periods come to an end too, but Allan is determined to earn a new deal at his home-town club, saying: "Hopefully, I can try and do enough to get myself a new contract because, coming from Huntington and playing for your local club side, it feels good to try and help them progress up the Football League."