LESS than two years on from embarking on a golf tour in Portugal with one another, Neal Ardley and Kevin Maher will lock horns on Saturday (3pm) as York City travel to Southend United.

Ardley’s York side will make the long trip down to Southend on Friday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s Vanarama National League clash between City and the Shrimpers, who find themselves level on points in the bottom-half of the table.

The York boss is expecting a tough match against a Southend side that like to dictate the intensity of a match, with the City boss demonstrating a large level of respect for Maher and his squad after recent ownership debacles.

“Kevin’s great, I’ve always got along well with him," Ardley enthused.

“We were actually both out in Villa Amor in Portugal, not this Summer just gone but the Summer before, on golfing trips so we had a beer together.

“He’s a good guy and I always go and see him afterwards in the office.

“Kev has been managing a very difficult situation really well.

“He’s been rewarded now by being able to sign good players that he wanted to keep at the club and by being able to progress and push forward next season.

“There is a good feeling around it and they deserve to have that, given what they have been through. Hopefully they won’t have a good feeling at five o’clock on Saturday!"

Ardley and his backroom staff have done their usual homework on a side that the City boss feels should be contending within the National League play-offs, if it hadn't of been for their 10-point deduction at the beginning of the season.

“Me and Joe (Stead), the goalkeeping coach do a lot of the analysis when looking at the opposition, and one thing that Southend are very good at, particularly at home, is the intensity that they play at," Ardley explained.

“We’ve got to make sure that we know our intensity and we’ve got to know how to match that, hopefully the lads will prove me right but I do feel like we’re in a position that we can match that now with the levels the players are playing at physically.

"Kev’s team play this way and are very intense, even though they are a spot above us, we know that they are a play-off team.

"I think they’re one of the top four or five teams in the league, they’re not far off that in their points total when you add their points back on.

"I’m just focusing on how tough this game is going to be and the best chance of how we’re going to win it.

“It will be a very, very tough game, I’ve worked really hard today in difficult conditions to give my team the best chance to win the game on Saturday."

Ardley also has fond memories of Southend's historic Roots Hall Stadium, with the City boss comparing it to York's former home Bootham Crescent.

“It’s one of those grounds, similar to Bootham Crescent, it’s an old traditional ground that really needs some work.

"When you’re in and around the dressing room area you can see that it hasn’t been maintained for a long, long time, so I’m sure that is something that they are looking at doing.

"I just focus on what’s on the pitch, Southend fans are great and noisy, but it might be a great chance for York fans to go down to Southend."