12:00pm Saturday 28th April 2012
By Dave Flett
YORK City manager Gary Mills believes his team’s two-legged FA Trophy semi-final victory over Luton Town will prove advantageous as his team prepare for their onslaught on this season’s Blue Square Bet Premier play-offs.
Attentions will switch to the Minstermen’s bid for promotion back to the Football League following this afternoon’s home match with Forest Green Rovers, which marks the end of the regulation campaign.
With City guaranteed to finish fourth or fifth following today’s final programme of fixtures, their play-off semi-final format will be identical to that they faced in the FA Trophy, playing their first leg at home before going on the road for the second.
Against Luton, the Minstermen took a slender 1-0 lead to Kenilworth Road thanks to Jamie Reed’s penalty in the first leg.
But they went on to book their place in a May 12 Wembley final meeting with Newport County when Matty Blair’s last-minute header secured a 2-1 aggregate win in Bedfordshire.
Even prior to their season-ending clash against Forest Green, City are certain to go into the play-offs having collected more league points on their travels than they have at Bootham Crescent, leaving Mills unconcerned with the deciding leg being away from home which is perceived to benefit the sides – Wrexham and Mansfield – finishing second and third in the final standings.
On his team’s mental readiness for the promotion tilt, Mills said: “We will need to show what we are about over two legs.
“We’ve already had that experience against Luton in the Trophy and that should stand us in good stead.
“We know it’s not about the 90 minutes. It’s all about getting your noses in front at home and then going to either Wrexham or Mansfield with our fantastic away form.”
City have taken four points from Wrexham in the league this season, fought out two draws with Mansfield and have also completed the double over Luton.
Should Luton get the point needed at Fleetwood to secure their place in the play-offs, or Kidderminster render that irrelevant by failing to beat Mansfield at home, Mills’ team will go into the play-offs with an undefeated record of three wins and three draws against their three rivals.
The City boss feels that could have a bearing on his team’s chances of success too, saying: “I think that will help because psychology counts for a lot in football. We’ve done well against those teams.
“We’ve lost to Wrexham in the FA Cup but are unbeaten in the league against them, Mansfield and Luton.”
Liam Henderson, meanwhile, has now returned to Bootham Crescent following his loan spell with today’s opponents Forest Green and will be available for the play-off ties and Trophy final.
The former Watford striker has a year left on his contract with the Minstermen but has endured a difficult maiden campaign under Mills.
At the moment, though, the City boss does not want to comment on Henderson’s future prospects at the club, saying: “He will be back with us for the rest of the season.
“He’s contracted to us but we loaned him out because he needed games to show what he’s capable of.
“He’s still not started enough at Forest Green though and he possibly feels that as well. We will have to see what his future holds, but now is not the time to talk about that.”
Should City end the season today fourth in the table, they will play host to Mansfield on Wednesday night, kick off 7.30pm, before travelling to Field Mill for the return leg on Monday, kick-off 2pm.
If Mills’ team finish fifth in the standings, then Wrexham will visit Bootham Crescent on Thursday, kick off 7.30pm, before entertaining City at the Racecourse Ground on Monday, kick off 4.30pm.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group