10:50am Friday 24th February 2012
By Dave Flett
YORK City manager Gary Mills has admitted he is considering changing tactics for tomorrow’s “massive” FA Trophy quarter-final at Grimsby Town.
Mills, long a sworn advocate of 4-3-3, is contemplating switching to 5-3-2 or 4-4-2 against the Mariners following his team’s first defeat in ten matches – Wednesday’s 2-1 home loss to Gateshead.
Despite enjoying the longest unbeaten run of his City managerial career prior to the televised reverse, Mills feels performances have not been as strong in recent weeks, when employing his favoured formation, as they were earlier in the season.
On his thoughts about a system rethink, Mills said: “Changing formation has crossed my mind – of course it has. Ultimately, I have to think about whether it’s the system or the players that have got us where we are this season.
“If it’s down to the system, we’ve played 4-3-3 for most of the campaign so, if you take that view, that formation has got us where we are in the league and the Trophy, although I did play with five at the back at Solihull in the first round and we got through.
“We lost on Wednesday and, while I know what our strengths are and what I believe to be the right way to go with this group of players, I have to decide whether I stick with what I believe in or take a punt at 4-4-2 or 5-3-2.”
A tactical switch will almost certainly lead to changes in personnel.
The likes of Jamie Reed, James Meredith and Erik Tonne would all seemingly be strong contenders for recalls.
Mills, who has picked the same starting line-up for City’s last two matches, said: “I have to pick the right side for tomorrow and I have decisions to make.
“I have to be honest and the players have to be too. If I don’t play them, then they know the reasons why.
“If I do play them, then it means I still believe they are the right players to win tomorrow’s game. But, if you are not in the 11 or 16, then you have to take that as a kick up the backside and be honest with yourself – don’t blame others or the manager but do something about it.
“That’s how you have to react, although I’m saying that as a 50-year-old, not as the young player I used to be in their positions.”
Left-back Meredith has been left out the side for the last two matches after a weak display in the 1-0 Trophy third round victory over Ebbsfleet but, should Mills opt for 5-3-2 at Blundell Park, would almost certainly receive a recall.
The City chief added: “I made the decision to leave James Meredith out and go with Ben Gibson instead. Like anybody who isn’t in the side, he’s not been picked for a reason.
“He knows why and I know why but he could come back in tomorrow. I live and die by my team selections.
“I rely on my players to keep me in a job and I won’t pick my team for any other reasons than I want to keep the job I love and I want to get this club promoted. I cannot be stubborn, so myself and my pal Darron (Gee) will make decisions that we think will bring York City success.”
Mills remains unwavering in his bid to reach and win May’s Trophy final at Wembley though, adding: “That has been my target ever since we drew Solihull in the first round because it’s a great chance for me, as a manager, to take our club and my side to Wembley.
“It would be a great day out and positive from a financial point of view. You can make a fair bit of money by reaching the final so we will be putting the league to bed this weekend for a massive, fantastic game.”
While accepting that recent displays could have been better, Mills also called for a little perspective from any critics of his players, pointing out that the Gateshead game was the first the Minstermen have lost since the 3-2 home defeat to Kidderminster before Christmas.
He said: “None of us like losing and we are not used to losing at this club but let’s bring Grimsby on and get back to showing what York City are all about. Everybody knows we haven’t been playing as well as we can of late but we have still been winning football matches and, even though we lost on Wednesday, I thought the first half was the best we’ve played for a while.
“I would take five wins and four draws from the next ten matches. Having said that, I don’t like the one defeat so let’s try to make the next ten games won six, drawn four or won five, drawn five.
“That would take us into the Trophy final in all likelihood and keep us in a play-off place. Our standards could have been better recently but there’s no getting away from the fact that our form has got us where we are in the league table and the Trophy.”
In the event of a draw, a replay would be held at Bootham Crescent on Tuesday, March 6 (7.45pm).
On Tuesday, February 28, City host Grangetown Boys Club (7.45pm) in the North Riding County Cup semi-finals. Admission will be £3 and £1.
GRIMSBY Town will be without FA Trophy talisman Anthony Elding for tomorrow’s quarter-final home tie against York City, writes Dave Flett.
Elding, 29, has scored in every round of the Mariners’ run in the tournament this season and is his team’s leading Trophy marksman with four goals in victories over Darlington, Hornchurch and Bath.
The ex-Leeds and Stevenage striker, who has netted 14 times in all competitions this term, starts a two-match suspension tomorrow after being found guilty of an inflammatory gesture towards fans of his former club Lincoln during the 3-1 victory on New Year’s Day.
Elding’s place will now be filled by one-time Mansfield frontman Rob Duffy, who will partner the prolific Liam Hearn in attack. The latter has plundered 26 goals in 2011/12, including four hat-tricks and 16 goals in his last 12 league outings, but has failed to net in the Trophy as yet.
Grimsby will also be without the services of first-choice centre-backs Scott Garner and Ian Miller for the last-eight encounter. Garner is ruled out with a knee injury and Ian Miller is cup-tied, paving the way for York-born City fan Shaun Pearson to deputise alongside Charile I’Anson.
Transfer window signings Louis Soares, Kiernan Hughes-Mason and Kenny Arthur will be unavailable for the same reason as Miller, and Frankie Artus remains crocked.
Rob Scott and Paul Hurst’s men go into tomorrow’s match in a terrific vein of form, having won ten and drawn one of their last 11 matches.
In total, the Mariners are unbeaten over 90 minutes in 22 games with the only defeat during that period at home to Salisbury in the second round of the FA Cup after extra time.
Grimsby (probable): McKeown, Silk, Pearson, l’Anson, Townsend, Coulson, Disley, Thanoj, Makofo, Duffy, Hearn.
YORK City’s last cup visit to Blundell Park was in January 2002 for a third round FA Cup tie.
The game was drawn 0-0 and the Minstermen won the replay 1-0 at Bootham Crescent.
The line-up on January 5, 2002, was: Fettis, Edmondson, Potter, Hocking, Basham, Hobson, Brass (Cooper), Bullock, Nogan, Proctor, Richardson.
It happened on February 25
1950: City lost at home to Gateshead 5-1 in Division Three North watched by 5,465. The scorer was Ron Spence from the penalty spot.
1956: A 1-0 defeat at Bootham Crescent to Southport in front of 9,544. It was the eighth league game without a win and City had dropped to mid-table in the Northern Section.
1961: Billy Hughes and Peter Wragg were on the scoresheet in a 2-1 home win over Wrexham. The attendance was 4,304 and with seven wins in eight league outings, City were sixth in the Fourth Division.
1984: City suffered a 1-0 defeat at Reading but remained Fourth Division leaders.
1989: A 2-2 draw at Darlington in Division Four, with Ian Helliwell and Kevin Dixon the marksmen.
1995: City were in the top half of the Second Division (League One) following a 3-2 win at Stockport County thanks to Paul Baker, Nigel Pepper and an own goal.
1997: Preston North End were beaten 3-1 at Bootham Crescent in Division Two (League One) watched by 2,515. Gary Bull, Rodney Rowe and Nigel Pepper, in his last game for the club before a move to Bradford, were the scorers.
2006: A 5-1 home victory against Forest Green with Andy Bishop, above, netting a hat-trick. The other scorers were David McGurk and Stephen Thomas and the crowd for this Conference fixture was 2,314.
Compiled by David Batters
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