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The Big Interview with York City captain Chris Smith
Painful memories of play-off anguish from last season should fuel York City’s revenge mission against Tamworth as skipper Chris Smith reveals to DAVE FLETT.
SKIPPER Chris Smith will remind his team-mates of Tamworth’s excessive celebrations after scuppering York City’s play-off ambitions last season ahead of Saturday’s trip to his former club.
With just five games of the 2010/11 Blue Square Bet Premier campaign remaining, Tamworth secured a 1-0 win at Bootham Crescent that proved crucial in the Staffordshire side’s battle to beat the drop.
For City, though, the result, which represented a first home reverse in 19 league games, all but wrecked their top-five hopes with former Lambs boss Gary Mills watching his new team only win one of their final four fixtures.
Smith has not forgotten the provocative reaction of his one-time team-mates at the final whistle and the 30-year-old centre-back will be using it as a motivational tool this weekend.
He said: “That result probably took the wind out of our sails towards the end of the season and I will be reminding the boys of how they celebrated outside our dressing room afterwards as well – even their manager joined in.
“It’s not about getting revenge for that but they put a nail in the coffin of our promotion hopes, so I will use anything that can get us even more up for the game.”
Smith spent two seasons with Tamworth between 2008 and 2010 but is expecting a hostile reception when he returns to the Lamb ground as an opposition player for the first time since moving on.
“I’ve still got a few friends there but I’ve been a bit disappointed when I’ve played against them in home games for both Mansfield and York,” Smith explained. “I’ve had a bit of stick which surprised me but I suppose that’s football.
“I’m sure I’ll get some more stick when I go back there but I’ll take it on the chin and will want to win the game not just for me, but because we want the three points to bounce back from the Alfreton defeat.”
Smith is not expecting an easy ride, however, at his old club, who have already beaten fellow early front-runners Darlington this season.
“From the lads I’ve spoken to there, they sound similar to us,” Smith said. “They are quite attack-minded and have got off to a good start, being just above us in the table.
“It will be a tough game and we can’t go there expecting to win but, hopefully, we can defend well and hit them on the break.”
City remain unbeaten on the road this term, having taken seven points from a possible nine but Smith has admitted the club’s home form has been disappointing following two consecutive 1-0 defeats against part-time pair Telford and Alfreton at Bootham Crescent.
While appreciating some home fans’ frustrations, Smith has issued a plea for patience when Bath are the next visitors to North Yorkshire on Tuesday night.
He added: “Overall, we’ve had a pretty good start but we’ve had two disappointing home games.
“The majority of fans only see us at home so that makes it more disappointing because a lot won’t have seen us at Ebbsfleet, Fleetwood and, most of all, Kettering.
“We’ve had groans and boos at home and I can understand that but all I would ask for, sometimes, is for the fans to be a little bit more patient with us. On occasions, you need to pass the ball back 15 or 20 yards to keep possession and eventually go forward because that’s the way the gaffer wants us to play.
“It’s also still early in the season and everybody is still feeling each other out but, make no bones about it, we are disappointed with the last two home games and all we can do is work hard to put things right.”
At the same time, Smith has warned his team-mates to guard against complacency in any of their future fixtures after the two shock defeats.
He said: “Last season our home form was superb so to have lost two of the first three games at Bootham Crescent this season is disappointing, especially against teams that have come up from lower divisions. We had our chances in both matches and, if we had taken them, it would probably have been a different story, but anybody can say that after nearly every game.
“I think we need to realise that people will come here, sit back and try to hit us on the break. I don’t think it matters who the opposition is, whether they are one of the so-called lesser sides or not, teams will look to do that because we are an attacking team.
“I don’t know if some of the lads thought that just because teams are new to the division they would be walkovers and under-estimated them. If that was the case, then it’s a big lesson to be learned because anybody can beat anybody in this league.
“Alfreton proved that against us and I’m sure they’ll go on to beat a Luton or a Wrexham as well this season, as other less-fancied teams will do.”
On a personal basis, Smith has been happy with the team’s defensive displays so far.
The team are yet to ship more than a goal in any fixture but have only kept one clean sheet and Smith believes the team should have still conceded less than five times.
He said: “We need to keep as many clean sheets as we can and I’m also disappointed with the goals we have conceded. One didn’t even hit the back of the net, one was a penalty and the Barrow and Telford goals came from their only chances of the match.”