YORK City boss Russ Wilcox wants the Bootham Crescent faithful to intimidate bottom-of-the-table Cheltenham during Friday’s “huge six-pointer” between the two clubs.

The fifth-bottom Minstermen currently lie four points ahead of their Cheltenham visitors and Wilcox fully understands the rewards on offer for his players should they collect maximum points.

City have still only won twice on their own turf this term but Wilcox is hoping his team can take some momentum into this match from Saturday’s 4-1 ten-man triumph at Mansfield.

Commenting on the importance of the Good Friday showdown, Wilcox declared: “It’s a six-pointer.

“We’re staying calm about that but that’s what it is. It’s a huge game for both football clubs and we want the fans to get behind us like they have done all season to make it an intimidating place for Cheltenham.

“We will be looking to get on the front foot again like we did at Mansfield. We’ve scored six goals in the last two games which is an incredible return and we need to take the game to them at home.

“We can go seven points clear of Cheltenham with six games to play. They would need three wins then to catch us because goal difference would come into play.”

Wilcox has also described the club’s next four fixtures as “make-and-break” time for his players.

Following Cheltenham, City travel to an Oxford team still not clear of trouble themselves on Easter Monday before playing host to 22nd-placed Hartlepool the following Saturday.

Mid-table Morecambe will also visit North Yorkshire a week on Tuesday before City conclude their campaign with tough trips to promotion hopefuls Shrewsbury and fallen giants Portsmouth, either side of a home match against play-off hopefuls Newport.

“We’ve got four games in 12 days, so this is a make-or-break period if you like,” Wilcox pointed out. “If we can perform well and pick up results, it will make life a lot more comfortable during the last three games.

“You can only concentrate on one game at a time but, of course, it would be nice to be in a stronger position going into those last few matches. I think 50 points will probably be enough to stay up this season and we can get to that point if we win the next three games.”

Stephane Zubar and Michael Coulson are both expected to be in contention against Cheltenham having now recovered from their respective thigh and stomach problems with Wilcox adding that their returns, coupled with last week’s loan additions of Josh O’Hanlon and Shaun Miller, has intensified the competition for places at Bootham Crescent.

He said: “Stephane and Michael are both ready to go, so we’ve got selection headaches because they are two quality players who have performed well this season but, whatever I decide to do, will make the squad stronger. It’s great to have options and that’s why we brought the two strikers in as well.

“They are both very different. Shaun Miller has really impressed me in training and reminds me a bit of (League Two’s 21-goal top marksman) Matt Tubbs, who I worked with at Bournemouth.

“Like him, Shaun is a terrific finisher and has great movement, so I’m looking forward to seeing him out on the pitch for us.”

Michael Ingham, meanwhile, will make his first start for City since the 3-1 FA Cup replay defeat at AFC Wimbledon in mid-November with Bobby Olejnik serving a one-match ban.

That Cup game was also Tom Platt’s last taste of the action before his return to the fold helped City take four points from a possible six at Accrington and Mansfield.

Wilcox has now challenged Ingham to respond to his long spell on the sidelines in the same manner as the former City youth-team captain, saying: “I was really pleased with Michael Ingham after Bobby’s red card at Mansfield.

“It’s really difficult for a keeper coming into that situation, especially facing a free kick on the edge of the box straight away but he showed all his experience and was very calm. People can feel like the door has closed on them but things happen and change in football.

“Tom Platt is a prime example of that. Michael is a great professional on the pitch and on the training ground and, like Tom, he has waited for an opportunity.

“Sometimes that pops up when you least expect it and you’ve got to be ready when it comes. Tom has taken his chance with both hands and performed really well.”

The City boss went on to reveal that he would not be promoting a youth-team keeper to senior bench duty against Cheltenham despite Olejnik’s ban and Jason Mooney being out on loan to Alfreton.

City would have had to apply to the Football League citing exenuating cirumstances to recall Mooney for the game and, had they been successful, the former Tranmere net-minder would then have had to spend the rest of the campaign at Bootham Crescent.  

On the decision not to call up an under-18 shot-stopper, Wilcox confessed: “It’s a risk but, if you put a youth-team keeper on the bench, it would be tough to ask them to do the job Michael Ingham had to do at Mansfield. I don’t think they’re ready for that.

“We’ve gone without a substitute goalkeeper before and Neil Warnock did it for years, so we will just be hoping everything goes well on that front.”

Wilcox, meanwhile, reasoned that it would be difficult to second-guess new Cheltenham boss Gary Johnson’s tactical approach to the game following his appointment on Monday.

The two men last crossed swords in League One during August when Wilcox secured a 1-1 draw for his then Scunthorpe team at Johnson’s Yeovil.

“It looks like a last roll of the dice and I’m not sure how many clubs will have had four different managers this season,” Wilcox said of the Whaddon Road upheaval this term. “Gary is in a no-lose situation really.

“They are bottom of the league so the only way is up. If he saves them from relegation, he’ll be a hero.

“If he doesn’t, it will be down to things that happened previously. He comes in full of experience and know-how but he can’t bring in new personnel.

“We can’t really predict what he might do either. He may play a new system or make six or seven changes but it’s important that we concentrate on ourselves and what we can do to win the game anyway.”