FORMER York City favourite David McGurk believes old Bootham Crescent team-mate Michael Coulson will be the biggest obstacle as Hyde United hope to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup at Scarborough Athletic.

McGurk is now assistant manager to fellow former City defender Darren Kelly at Hyde and is no stranger to tomorrow’s hosts, who boast five of his former Bootham Crescent team-mates on their books in Coulson, Dave Merris, Jamie Price, Craig Nelthorpe and Jimmy Beadle.

Midfielder Charlie Binns was also a member of the youth team when McGurk was in the Minstermen’s senior squad, but the latter believes Coulson, who was playing in the Scottish Premier League for St Johnstone last term, is the main danger as Hyde travel to their Evo-Stik North rivals on the back of an 18-game undefeated league run.

Coulson has scored 16 times since signing for the Seadogs in the summer and put pen to paper on a new two-year deal this week with higher-league clubs understood to be interested in his services.

Athletic have not reached the first round proper of the FA Cup since the old Scarborough club became defunct a decade ago, while Hyde have never progressed past that stage – once suffering a 26-0 defeat to Preston in 1887.

Their most recent runs to the first round came in 1955/56, 1983/84 and 1994/95 and, on the visitors’ prospects for tomorrow, McGurk admitted: “Coulson is the obvious threat

“He’s the second top scorer in the league and we’ve got to try and nullify him. He looks to hit the target from anywhere and he’s a quality player at this level, who only needs half-a-chance to score.

“Hyde have never got past the first round in the Cup, so it’s a brilliant opportunity for us to try and change that, but this is a massive tie for both clubs and would be a great boost for revenue. I know most of their players and have come across them somewhere along the line, either as a team-mate or opposition player, playing for Harrogate and York.

“Both teams know each other well and cancelled each other out in a tight game earlier in the season when it was 0-0 at their place. They have a 3G pitch, but so have we, so there will be no advantage there and we’re confident, even though we know it will be a tough game.”

While Coulson will be the man to watch at one end of the pitch, McGurk also feels that fellow ex-Press Player of the Year Merris, who turns 37 today, will offer the greatest defensive resistance if he starts, having been unavailable during recent weeks.

“From a defensive point of view, Dave Merris was their best player in the league game,” McGurk declared. “He’s still doing very well for an old man and is as fit as a fiddle.”

Hyde, meanwhile, have one ex-Minsterman on their books in former youth-team defender Harry Coates, with McGurk adding: “He’s progressing well at centre-half.”

With Hyde seventh – three positions below Scarborough – but boasting four games in hand on some of the teams around them, McGurk stressed that the Greater Manchester club are targeting a good Cup run in tandem with their history-making league form.

“There’s a real, buzz about our place and we’re getting more fans through the gates,” McGurk enthused. “In our last FA Cup win against Warrington, it was the best atmosphere we’ve had here and we want to keep that unbeaten league run going, because we feel like we can win every week.

“We’ve broken a few club records now and, while cup ties can interfere with the league, we’ve got a squad where all 20 players are capable of playing in the first team and have the ability to fill in, so we’ll just rotate at the right times.”

McGurk is also pleased that Kelly is now enjoying success at Hyde, following a tough baptism to management that saw him given just nine games at League One Oldham and only one match more with National League outfit Halifax.

The pair are endeavouring to introduce Football League methods and standards at Ewen Fields, with McGurk declaring: “Darren has been unlucky.

“At Oldham, he didn’t get the time he deserved. He was not there nowhere near long enough and you have to give managers time to put a team together.

“At Halifax, he then couldn’t do what he wanted to do. He could only get the players in twice a week for training and then he was scrapping around for a pitch to work on.

“Now, we’re operating as professionally as we can and have introduced video analysis and GPS trackers to monitor the players’ work-rate. I believe we’re as professional as any part-time team in the country and the players are buying into it.

“Me and Darren come from a professional environment and we want the players to benefit from the same things we had as far as possible and they want to stay with us. There are some well-organised sides with good managers and players in our league now, but we want to get promoted.”