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Match preview: York City v Mansfield Town - play-off semi-final
STATISTICS can tell you a lot.
Anyone looking at Mansfield Town’s recent run of form – an amazing 13 wins from their last 15 games which pushed them into third place in the Blue Square Bet Premier – would naturally assume the Stags are favourites ahead of tonight’s play-off semi-final first leg.
But, though Mansfield top the recent form charts both home and away and have not tasted defeat since losing at Newport more than two months ago, figures can also sometimes be misleading.
Against their fellow top eight teams during this campaign, they have won just three of 14 games and have also drawn twice with York (1-1 and 2-2) in matches where boss Gary Mills felt his men did not reach their full potential.
Whatever the numbers, Mansfield pose a sizeable threat.
Manager Paul Cox was able to make seven changes against Kidderminster last weekend and they still swept the Harriers aside 3-0. A number of players also put their names forward for selection at Bootham Crescent, with Lee Stevenson scoring one and making one and burly forward Matt Rhead putting in an eye-catching display.
Goalkeeper Alan Marriott, centre-back Exodus Geohagan and skipper Adam Murray are all expected to return to the Mansfield line-up, along with Anthony Howell, Ross Dyer and Richie Sutton.
In forward Matt Green, the Stags have a player York fans should know everything about.
Green shone in the play-off final for Oxford against Martin Foyle’s City side at Wembley two years ago, netting the opener as United ascended into the Football League in a 3-1 win under the arch.
Now at Field Mill, firstly on loan and then on a permanent basis from January, the 25-year-old has been in prolific form. His goal from the bench at Kidderminster was his 30th of the campaign. In the league, he has only been bettered by Fleetwood’s Jamie Vardy.
Cox reckons his side will need the rub of the green over the two play-off games.
“We know it’s York and we can’t promise anything in the play-offs as there are four sides who all think they are going to win them,” he said. “But if we show the same mindset, desire and hunger we showed (against Kidderminster) we will give anyone a game. Sometimes then it is down to Lady Luck.”
Mansfield have not won in their four Conference visits, with City winning twice and the other two games ending in draws.
This season the clubs met here on New Year’s Day in front of a crowd of 4,264. Matty Blair and Jamal Fyfield were the marksmen and the line-up was: Ingham, Oyebanjo, McGurk (Fyfield), Parslow, Meredith, Boucaud, Kerr, McLaughlin, Chambers (Pilkington), Henderson (Reed), Blair.
It happened on May 2
1955: City suffered their heaviest defeat of the season when they lost 4-1 at home to Barrow. Norman Wilkinson was the scorer in front of 8,192 and City were fourth in Division Three North.
1969: A 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Swansea Town and City had to apply for re-election to the Football League for the third successive season. The attendance was 3,204.
1981: City finished bottom of the Fourth Division following a 3-0 defeat against Bradford City at Bootham Crescent in front of 1,481.
1987: Martin Butler and Tony Canham scored in a 2-1 home victory over Bolton Wanderers. The crowd was 4,079 and the club just avoided relegation from Division Three (League One).
1998: A Bootham Crescent crowd of 6,688 saw a 0-0 draw against Northampton Town and City finished this campaign 16th in the Second Division (League One).
Compiled by David Batters