10:10am Friday 27th April 2012
By Dave Flett
FOREST Green Rovers travel to Bootham Crescent with two club records in their sights.
Victory for the Gloucestershire outfit against York City tomorrow afternoon would see Dave Hockaday’s men rack up the club’s highest-ever points tally in Conference football, surpassing by two the 71 accumulated in 2007/8.
That team, managed by Jim Harvey four years ago, also claimed the club’s highest-ever finish in the football pyramid after being placed eighth in the final Blue Square Bet Premier standings.
A win against the Minstermen, though, could see that feat emulated or bettered this weekend, depending on results elsewhere.
If Forest Green, currently ninth in the table, take maximum points, they will climb above Gateshead should they fail to defeat Telford at home, and Southport, should they lose at Grimsby.
Hockaday’s team will also be keen to finish the season on a high having already won four of their last five fixtures, defeating Barrow (3-0), Ebbsfleet (3-1), Bath (2-0) and Darlington (2-0) with the only blemish during that run a 1-0 defeat at Gateshead.
Reserve goalkeeper Matt Bulman is likely to be the only absentee in the visitors’ squad due to an arm injury, although former City defender Luke Graham played no part in Saturday’s victory over Darlington.
Graham, who played for the Minstermen in the 2010 Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final, has featured in 28 matches but started less than half of the club’s league games this term and has had to play second fiddle to first-choice centre-backs Jamie Turley and Eddie Oshodi for most of the campaign.
City striker Liam Henderson, who has been on loan with Forest Green, will not feature either tomorrow as part of the transfer agreement between the two clubs but, in any case, has only netted twice for Rovers in 22 matches, including 14 starts.
He is currently without a goal in 12 games since grabbing the winning effort in a 2-1 triumph over home-town team Gateshead back on February 18.
In contrast, leading marksman Yan Klukowski – a midfielder – has scored nine times in his last 13 outings to take his tally for the season to 18.
It is at the other end of the pitch where Forest Green have impressed most, however, with a record of 19 away goals conceded and only bettered in the division by runners-up Wrexham.
Ex-Watford midfielder Al Bangura has returned to training this month after being sidelined by injury since November but is unlikely to be called into action at Bootham Crescent.
Forest Green (probable): Russell, Hodgkiss, Turley, Oshodi, Stokes, Forbes, Collins, Rowe, Klukowski, Taylor, Norwood.
TOMORROW’S match features the two longest continuous members of the fifth tier of English football.
Rovers have been in the Conference Premier since 1998 and City have been at this level since 2004.
In the seven previous meetings at Bootham Crescent, City have won four times with one draw.
The biggest success was 5-1 in 2005/6 when Andy Bishop hit a hat-trick. Forest Green’s two victories here were in 2004/5 and 2007/8.
Last season, City won 2-1 on January 22, 2011 with substitutes Jamie Reed and Levi Mackin the scorers and the team lined up: Knight, Parslow, McGurk, C Smith, Meredith, Boucaud (Carruthers), Racchi (Mackin), McDermott (Reed), Chambers, Rankine, Till.
Making his debut in goal was David Knight replacing the suspended Michael Ingham.
1953: A 3-1 win at Tranmere Rovers with Dave Dunmore (2) and Billy Fenton the scorers and City finished fourth in Division Three North – then their highest Football League position.
1958: City extended their unbeaten run to nine games when they beat Workington 3-0 at Bootham Crescent watched by 5,731. Norman Wilkinson (2) and Peter Wragg scored.
1967: A 1-0 win at Barnsley with a Tommy Spencer goal. It was the only away victory of the season and City were in the bottom four of the Fourth Division and had to apply for re-election.
1973: City avoided relegation from the Third Division (League One) on goal average following a 2-1 win at Rotherham United thanks to goals from Jimmy Seal and John Stone.
1984: City clinched the Fourth Division title when they beat Hartlepool United 2-0 at Bootham Crescent with Keith Walwyn netting both goals in front of 6,063.
1992: Burnley clinched promotion from the Fourth Division with a 2-1 win at Bootham Crescent. The attendance of 7,620 included more than 5,000 from Burnley. Ian Blackstone was City’s marksman.
2007: City made certain of a top five place in the Conference with a 1-0 win over Oxford United with Neal Bishop the scorer. The crowd of 5,378 remains the biggest league attendance (not including play-offs) since the club fell from the Football League.
Compiled by David Batters
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