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York City step up at the double
YORK CITY boss Gary Mills has pledged his side will not be taking Harrogate Railway and Pickering Town lightly as they prepare to meet the non-league sides in friendly matches on consecutive nights.
The Minstermen go to Station View to take on Evo-Stik League outfit Railway tonight (kick off 7.30pm) before travelling to the Recreation Ground tomorrow (also kick off 7.30pm) to play Northern Counties East League premier division side Pikes.
The City manager deliberately set the friendlies 24 hours apart in a bid to give his squad a stern fitness test as they build up to Saturday’s match against League One Oldham Athletic at Bootham Crescent.
“It’s what I wanted,” Mills explained.
“We were just struggling to get opposition for tonight and we had a response from Harrogate. We are grateful for that and it has worked out perfectly. The likelihood is that players will get 45 minutes on both nights.
“We will be training this morning and tomorrow morning and it’s all about mental and physical fitness. We are looking for a bit of a response to the training and, looking ahead to Oldham, to be more disciplined with the way we play.”
Mills continued: “These two games are fitness tests for us – a couple of games where players get to know their jobs and where those who were here last year get a little reminder.
“The new guys are learning the system and everything we do and the quicker they learn it the better.”
Any thought of complacency over whether the result matters in the two ties has also been scotched by Mills, who argued that, despite the friendly nature of the encounters, his players will be on their game and ready to perform.
“Harrogate Railway and Pickering will want to prove what they are about,” he added. “Our fitness levels should be better than theirs but it is always a test.
“That’s always the case. You have to be realistic about what it is about but we have to be ready, as a team, for anything that’s thrown at us.
“Just because it is Harrogate Railway and Pickering doesn’t mean we are going to go there and lay down.
“We will have to be at our game and we will be.”
But Mills said: “Ultimately, it’s all about getting ready for August 11 and August 18. It’s not about being ready for Tuesday or Wednesday.
“There is a buzz around (the squad at pre-season) and I had that last year – we had it from the word go.
“Being in League Two is the next step up. It is what we have worked for and we deserve to be there.
“Now we have got to go and win this league. We don’t stand still.”
Mills will take the same squad to both Railway and Pickering that played in City’s 8-0 win over Huntington Rovers last Friday night.