YORK City boss Martin Gray has admitted his side face a “tough” start to the season at last term’s National League North play-off semi-finalists Chorley.

The Minstermen will travel to Victory Park on Saturday, August 4 in one of three fixtures against top-seven sides during the opening month of the 2018/19 campaign.

Stockport County also visit Bootham Crescent three days later and play-off final runners-up Brackley is the destination for August’s final Saturday.

Gray’s old club Darlington, meanwhile, will host the Minstermen on Boxing Day, with the return fixture taking place on New Year’s Day.

In between, there is a trip to Blyth Spartans on Saturday, December 29, while Telford visit Bootham Crescent on the final day of the season in what could be, depending on potential play-off fixtures, the final competitive game to be played at the stadium before the move to Monks Cross.

Chorley now include former City pair Louis Almond and Wes Fletcher in their ranks, although ex-striker Jason Walker was released at the end of last season.

The Magpies finished sixth in the 2017/18 final standings and were only beaten 2-1 in the play-offs after Dom Knowles grabbed a stoppage-time winner for Harrogate Town.

Chorley also boasted the division’s second-best defensive record, although former Blackburn midfielder Matt Jensen has since stepped down as manager and been replaced by 36-year-old coach Jamie Vermiglio.

On the challenge the opening-days hosts will pose, Gray said: “It’s a tough start. Chorley have finished in the play-offs for the last two years and have stability in the club with a settled group of players, so I expect them to be up there challenging at the end of the season again.

“But it’s exciting to see the fixtures out and I’m looking forward to a really good game.”

Gray is also desperate for the final league game of the season to provide an unforgettable tribute to the club’s 86-year-old stadium prior to relocation, adding: “I hope it’s a really special occasion because I want it to be a day we’ll never forget for all the right reasons.

“It would be fantastic to sign off in the way we want to do. It’s a competitive league and, without disrespect, I don’t expect there to be any North Ferribys this season, but we’ve got to set our stall out from the start and achieve what we aim to.”

He also welcomed the timing of the festive fixtures against his former team.

“I think it’s good for all clubs to have derby games at that time of the year and recent history will also add a bit of spice for the fans, but we’ve got a lot more to concentrate on before we get to those matches,” Gray reasoned.

York City’s 2018/19 fixtures:

Sat, Aug 4 Chorley (A); Tue, Aug 7 Stockport County (H); Sat, Aug 11 Alfreton Town (H); Tue, Aug 14 Ashton United (A); Sat, Aug 18 Curzon Ashton (H); Sat, Aug 25 Brackley Town (A); Mon, Aug 27 Blyth Spartans (H).

Sat, Sep 1 Hereford (A); Sat, Sep 8 Nuneaton Borough (A); Sat, Sep 15 Kidderminster Harriers (H) Sat, Sep 22 Emirates FA Cup 2Q; Sat, Sep 29 Guiseley (H).

Sat, Oct 6 Emirates FA Cup 3Q; Sat, Oct 13 Southport (A); Sat, Oct 20 Chester (H)(Emirates FA Cup 4Q); Sat, Oct 27 AFC Telford United (A), Tue, Oct 30 Spennymoor Town (A).

Sat, Nov 3 Bradford Park Avenue (H); Sat, Nov 10 Leamington (H) (Emirates FA Cup 1); Sat, Nov 17 Altrincham (A); Sat, Nov 24 Buildbase FA Trophy 3Q.

Sat, Dec 1 FC United Of Manchester (H)(Emirates FA Cup 2), Sat, Dec 8 Boston United (A); Sat, Dec 15 Buildbase FA Trophy 1; Sat Dec 22 Brackley Town (H); Wed, Dec 26 Darlington (A); Sat, Dec 29 Blyth Spartans (A).

Tue, Jan 1 Darlington (H); Sat, Jan 5 Curzon Ashton (A) (Emirates FA Cup 3); Sat, Jan 12 Hereford (H) (Buildbase FA Trophy 2); Sat, Jan 19 Stockport County (A); Sat, Jan 26 Chorley (H) (Emirates FA Cup 4).

Sat, Feb 2 Alfreton Town (A) (Buildbase FA Trophy 3); Sat Feb 9 Ashton United (H); Sat, Feb 16 Kidderminster Harriers (A) (Emirates FA Cup 5); Sat Feb 23 Nuneaton Borough (H) (Buildbase FA Trophy 4).

Sat Mar 2 Leamington (A); Sat Mar 9 Altrincham (H); Sat, Mar 16 FC United Of Manchester (A) (Emirates FA Cup 6/Buildbase FA Trophy Semi 1); Sat, Mar 23 Boston United (H) (Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final 2); Sat Mar 30 Guiseley (A).

Sat, Apr 6 Southport (H) (Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final); Sat Apr 13 Chester (A); Sat, Apr 20 Spennymoor Town (H); Mon, Apr 22 Bradford Park Avenue (A); Sat, Apr 27 AFC Telford United (H); Sat, May 18 Emirates FA Cup Final; Sun, May 19 Buildbase FA Trophy Final.