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Colin Walker recalls York City's striking impact
FORMER York City manager Colin Walker believes the quality of the club’s strikers can prove the difference in Saturday’s clash against Aldershot – just as it did in the clubs’ last meeting.
Walker was in charge of the Minstermen in January 2008 when goals from Richard Brodie and Martyn Woolford secured a 2-0 home win over a Shots side that would go on to become runaway Conference champions.
The young strike duo, paired together by Walker, would both go on to leave Bootham Crescent for six-figure sums but the one-time City chief, now a youth coach at Doncaster, believes current boss Gary Mills now has an armoury of forward options at his disposal.
Walker witnessed the Minstermen’s 1-1 draw against Doncaster in the Capital One Cup early this season and he was also in attendance for this week’s behind-closed-doors reserve match, hosted by the South Yorkshire club.
“If you look at the quality of teams that get promoted, they are usually the ones who score the most goals and York have got some good strikers now,” Walker reasoned. “Jason Walker has always been on everybody’s radar and he’s still a threat.
“The boy (Matty) Blair impressed me (in Monday’s game) as well – he’s quick.
“Then there’s Michael Coulson, who had that bad injury, but I like him too. He’s been a clever footballer all his career but has had a few bad breaks.
“York have probably got him in his prime though now.”
Walker also believes the squad’s strength in depth is currently much greater than it was when City beat Aldershot while he was at the helm, adding: “There were some good players in that York team on Monday – Lee Bullock, Scott Dobie, Dave McGurk and Blair.
“It shows how things have moved on, four years down the line. Gary’s got the luxury of having those players in the reserves.
“When I was manager, the reserve team would have been full of young kids so it bodes well for the club’s chances of doing well this season.”
The former New Zealand international is also pleased to hear the rave reviews Michael Ingham , who he brought back to North Yorkshire four years ago, is receiving in the Football League, and joined a growing call for him to be recognised by his country again.
“I cannot understand why the Northern Irish team are still not having a look at him,” he said. “I don’t believe they have three or four around better than him.”
The club’s last match against Aldershot is widely regarded as the finest of a Walker reign that would end less than nine months later after a poor start to the following campaign.
Having taken over from Billy McEwan, the win represented Walker’s 13th game without defeat in a terrific start to his managerial career. The long-time leaders were restricted to just one shot on target.
Brodie headed in a Nicky Wroe cross from a yard early on and, in the 86th minute, Woolford added the second by sidefooting into the roof of the net after a Craig Farrell pass.
Memories of the night are still vivid for Walker, who recalled: “Aldershot were lucky it was only two because it was an oustanding performance and one I look back fondly on.
“We had Simon Rusk playing at wing-back and had one or two people filling in other roles. We played 3-5-2 and I don’t think they really sussed out the system and our spare man in midfield.”
Walker is now looking forward to watching Doncaster's youth team host City in a top-of-the-table clash tomorrow.
The ex-Barnsley coach championed the importance of junior football while at City and said: “It’s really pleasing to see York’s youth team still going. It will only get stronger with the funding that’s coming in now.
“I hope the people that worked so tirelessly to keep it going without any money get the chance to do the same good jobs now that there is some.”
How it was back then
City team (v Aldershot): Evans, Rusk, Parslow, McGurk, Craddock, Lloyd, Elliott, Panther, Wroe, Brodie (Farrell), Woolford.
Number one on the day: Now You’re Gone (Basshunter featuring DJ Mental Theo's Bazzheadz).
It also happened on January 26, 2008: Senator Barack Obama wins the South Carolina Democratic primary to draw level with Hillary Clinton in the battle to be the party’s presidential nomination.