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Neal Bishop warns Minstermen to expect ‘ugly’ League Two clash
IT might be four and a half years since York City last tackled Saturday’s opponents Dagenham & Redbridge but Neal Bishop has told his old club to expect exactly the same “ugly” challenge from the Essex side.
Bishop, now plying his trade for League One high-flyers Notts County, netted City’s consolation during a 2-1 defeat at Dagenham’s Victoria Road ground in February 2007.
As a consequence, the hosts opened up a 15-point gap on the Minstermen as they closed in on the Conference title.
Billy McEwan’s City team, meanwhile, would miss out on promotion after losing to Morecambe in the play-off semi-finals.
The visitors on that day were undone by two set-pieces with centre-back Jon Boardman bagging a headed brace – the first from a free-kick and the second from a partially-cleared corner.
Bishop, who scored from a yard that afternoon after home ’keeper Tony Roberts failed to hold Craig Farrell’s shot just past the hour mark, has played the Daggers nine times since for County and previous club Barnet and has advised his former employers that the Football League’s longest-serving manager John Still has not changed his tactical approach during the last five seasons.
The 31-year-old midfielder said: “I remember that last York game against Dagenham. They were very direct, in our faces and played at 100 miles an hour.
“They were turning us over but I got a chance that I couldn’t really miss and I think we deserved a point. They beat us at our place that season as well, though, so they got the better of us in both matches.
“John Still is still in charge as he was then and his teams will always play the same way. You know what you will get and what’s coming but that doesn’t make it any easier.
“You have to prepare for a battle and the nasty, ugly side of the game before you earn the right to play your football. When you’re in possession, they minimise your time on the ball and try and make the match a bitty game.
“They look to win their set-pieces and are well organised from their corners and long throws.”
Despite City currently boasting an away record that is vastly superior when compared to home results, Bishop believes it is better to face Dagenham away from their Essex base as Gary Mills’ team will do tomorrow.
Since leaving Bootham Crescent in the summer of 2007, Bishop has lost three and won only one of his five visits to Victoria Road.
When taking on Still’s side at home, though, the former England ‘C’ international is unbeaten in four matches with three ending in victory.
“Their pitch isn’t great,” Bishop added as he offered an explanation for those contrasting fortunes. “It’s narrow and probably set up to suit their sort of game because they can put you under pressure more easier and it’s always been a difficult place to go.”
Bishop added that he is delighted that the Minstermen have eventually followed both himself and Dagenham into the Football League.
David McGurk and Dan Parslow, who both lined up at centre-back in the last meeting between the two clubs, remain on the books at Bootham Crescent, while Bishop also played for Scarborough with Scott Kerr and went to the same Stockton school and represented the same county team as Lee Bullock.
“We were within touching distance when I was at the club and it was a massive disappointment when we missed out,” Bishop recalled. “A lot of the team was broken up then and it’s great to see that lads who stayed loyal to the club like Dan Parslow and Dave McGurk in the Football League now.
“It’s fantastic to see the club in the League because that’s where they deserve to be. I know the plans are in place for the new stadium as well so, from the outside looking in, everything seems positive.”
Bishop is also enjoying his football currently with his team sitting fifth in the League One standings and the Magpies captain forging an impressive central- midfield partnership with another one-time Minsterman Andre Boucaud.
On the Trinidad & Tobago international, he added: “He came in from Luton which raised some eyebrows with him being a non-League player but he’s been fantastic. His range of passing is great and we are combining well together.
“He sits in and gets on the ball which leaves me to get around the pitch and do what I do best. I think the club will be looking to extend his stay at the end of his loan spell.”
How it was back then
City team (v Dagenham on February 24, 2007): Evans, Craddock, Parslow, McGurk, Lloyd (Peat), Bowey (Elvins), Panther, Bishop, Farrell, Brodie (Woolford), Donaldson.
Number one UK selling single at the time: Grace Kelly (Mika).
It also happened on this day: At least 39 people are killed as a car bomb explodes at a mosque in Habbaniya, Iraq.