Born-again battler Richard Cresswell has vowed to slay his critics starting at Preston North End tomorrow.

The 20-year-old striker, who, to his team-mates' amazement has been barracked by York City fans, is resolved to mark the 1998-99 season as the one in which he genuinely comes of age.

As he relished the mission of spearheading the City attack for the first-day opener at Deepdale Cresswell declared: "I've had some stick from a small number of fans, but hopefully I can prove them wrong. I will prove them wrong.

"This a big season for me. I want to do it for York City. I want to do it for myself."

Cresswell conceded he had not made the impact he envisaged after first surging into the front-line as a 17-year-old three seasons ago in a 2-0 defeat at Brentford.

He figured in the next five games that term, including a one-man terrorising of the Burnley defence at Turf Moor that had no less an authority than former England and Arsenal striker Paul Mariner purring about his potential.

Recalled Cresswell: "I started really well, but then it faded away and I never really got a run in the side. The most I've had since then is ten games on the trot last season.

"But I've had a good pre-season now and I just want to show them all what I can really do. Then, you just never know what might happen."

Cresswell's ambition has been re-ignited by the big-money moves that took his pal Jonathan Greening to Manchester United last spring and winger Graeme Murty to Reading this summer.

"I've been in the first-team squad since I was 17 now, so it's time I was making a bigger impact. If you do well then the rewards are there," said Cresswell, who is regularly in touch with Greening.

"It's a different world now for Jonno - and that gives me an incentive that I can get higher if I get the chance to prove myself."

His confidence for the coming campaign has been bolstered by the assistance afforded him by new recruit Neil Woods.

The duo have been the likeliest of lads used in the pre-season even if they represent different extremes of experience.

Of his 'veteran' front-line ally Cresswell enthused: "I have enjoyed playing in attack with Woodsy.

"He has helped me along a lot during the pre-season. It's good for the likes of me to be able to call on someone of that experience. He has helped me with my movement and my positional play."

It was a partnership that Cresswell was optimistic would prosper at Preston to provide City with the perfect start to the season.

"I cannot wait to just get started," he said. "I think the way Preston push up will give our attack room to punish them.

"I work hard for the team and I will keep on doing that. If it's not me scoring the goals, provided I can assist and we get the three points then it will be fine.

"But I do want to show people that I am ready."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.