York City vs Bradford City preview
@Bootham Crescent on Saturday 2 March, 2013
By Jason McKeown
Back in the days when I went clubbing, the after party was considered an important part of the evening – providing an opportunity to continue the festivities after the main event had ended.
Wednesday night, at Valley Parade, felt just like an after party. The great time at Wembley on Sunday was over, and yet the chance to continue the buzz that was created from it was very welcome. The team were roared onto the field, the chanting louder than it has been for some time, the flags continued to be waved in the Bradford night.
But like an after party, the vibe eventually began to die down. Tiredness and weariness crept in, and by the end you wondered whether it would have been better to call it a night sooner; woken up the next morning feeling fresher, rather than going to bed so late the sun had already come out.
It was a great feeling to be inside Valley Parade on Wednesday, enjoying the post-Wembley feel good factor. But sadly it seemed to fizzle away in the increasingly cold Bradford night – and somewhere between half time and trooping out of the ground with an underwhelming 1-1 draw, the moaning and the muttering was back. The warmth of Wembley starting to become a distant memory.
Yes, City are prompting grumbles once again. Our league form has suffered badly from the cup exploits; but with that all out of the way now, the need to get right back on it was evident. As it was a late equaliser could provide the team with the kick-start and the momentum that it needs to start racking up lots of league points, but a 1-1 draw with Dagenham is never going to be considered good enough.
Cue the grumbles about Phil Parkinson (not unjustified, the decision to ‘rest’ James Hanson and Nahki Wells sent out the wrong message in my eyes), re-start the anguish about individual players (Kyel Reid and Andy Gray) and allow the pessimism to flourish (“the season’s over”). It’s sad to see the Wembley glow start to dim so quickly, but it’s all rather serious. Promotion will not be won over the next three or four games, but hopes could be lost for this season if indifferent form continues.
So City badly need a win at York tomorrow. Not a draw, and certainly not a defeat. The pressure builds, and Parkinson’s challenge is to ensure that the players are mentally prepared to handle that pressure and to play to their capabilities. Because with Port Vale to travel to on Tuesday, a second league win of 2013 has to be achieved within days not weeks. It truly is now or never.
Expect to see changes, as Parkinson has to start moving away from the rotation approach adopted in the build up to and after the cup final, in favour of getting his best team fit and firing. So that will be Wells and Hanson back up front, with Will Atkinson recalled on the opposite side to the excellent Zavon Hines. Reid has lost his way over recent weeks and is falling down the pecking order. He had the opportunity to change that on Wednesday, but despite being targeted by Dagenham there were no excuses for him not taking it. Gary Jones and Nathan Doyle patrol the centre.
In defence the moving of Stephen Darby to left back worked well, and he may continue as former York defender James Meredith draws closer to a return. Or Carl McHugh might offer better balance instead, though Darby’s form of late does not deserve for him to be pushed out. Rory McArdle, Michael Nelson and Andrew Davies battle for centre back places, with Rory possibly continuing at right back. Expect Matt Duke to return in goal, with Jon McLaughlin neither blemishing or enhancing his prospects to be City’s number’s one in midweek.