YORK City reserve team coach Colin Walker has hailed the importance of the club's second string ahead of Tuesday night's North Riding Senior Cup final against Northallerton Town.

The Minstermen's reserves will have the opportunity to end their campaign with some silverware when the Northern League side visit KitKat Crescent for a 7.45pm kick off.

Victory would also provide the perfect manner in which to celebrate City's supporters raising £10,000 last summer to ensure the continuation of reserve football in York for another season, and Walker believes that contribution has been crucial in the development of the club's younger players.

Centre-back Darren Hollingsworth was named the Minstermen's Young Player of the Year at half-time during Saturday's 3-1 Conference defeat against Hereford and Walker believes regular Pontins League football has been influential in his progress over the last nine months.

The former Barnsley coach said: "Playing alongside the likes of Mark Hotte, James Dudgeon and David McGurk for the reserves has helped somebody like Darren develop probably more than what I could do for him on the training ground. He's got a lot of reserve games under his belt and, without them, it is unlikely that he would have developed as well as he has done.

"For me, you must have a reserve side as the stepping stone between youth football because the jump up to the first team is too big otherwise."

With City committed to exploring avenues to fund next season's youth set-up following the withdrawal of financial support from the Football League, the Premier League, the FA, PFA and Sport England, Walker is hoping the reserve team will continue to bridge that gap.

Fourteen of his 17-strong squad for tonight's match are youth trainees and Walker is counting on his three professionals to provide support against strong senior opponents.

The City coach added: "It will be Northallerton's cup final literally. Their fans will probably outnumber our supporters because it's a big day out for them so we will have to make sure our attitude is right.

"It would be nice for the kids to have something to remember the season for in terms of silverware but it's just another football match that we have to go and win. It will be a decent test and it will help having Mark Hotte, Dave Merris and Bryan Stewart playing because I have been pleased with the pros' attitudes when they have played for the reserves."

Admission for tonight's match is £6 for adults and £3 for concessions.

City Squad: Reid, Kamara, Hotte, Hollingsworth, Merris, Stewart, Webster, Holmes, Taylor, Wrigley, Rhodes, Phillips, Thornton, Holt, Walsh, Williams, Shepherd.

Seeking perfect ten

YORK City will be bidding for their tenth North Riding Senior Cup final victory after previous wins against Middlesbrough (1950, 1979), Scarborough (1957, 1996, 2000), Billingham Synthonia (1970), Whitby Town (1986, 1999) and Stockton (1989).

The Minstermen actually lost their previous final meeting against Northallerton in 1992 after a replay.

City were also involved in the competition's biggest crowd when 12,500 flocked to the Riverside Stadium in 1997 to witness the Middlesbrough debut of Italian star Fabrizio Ravanelli as the home side triumphed 3-1.

The Teessiders also beat City in the 1955 final with a certain Brian Clough getting the only goal of the game.

Updated: 09:53 Tuesday, May 02, 2006