YORK CITY captain Russ Penn insists there is no need to panic following the Minstermen’s low-key start to the season.
After the stunning highs of the second half of last term when the club’s post-Christmas rise was arguably the story of League Two, reality has bitten in a sluggish opening to the current campaign.
York make the long trip to Newport today a lowly fourth from bottom after just one victory in 11 league matches, albeit with just three defeats.
If the Minstermen require any inspiration, it can be found in their position after the same amount of games 12 months ago when they were just one point better off and were looking down rather than upward before a remarkable renaissance.
For Penn, who joined the club from Cheltenham Town at the start of this year, experiencing the club’s current barren streak is a wholly different sensation to his first five months at York.
While he is the first to admit expectations have risen among supporters after they reached the play-off semi-finals in the Spring, he is sure that York have the aptitude to knuckle down and dig out some wins in the weeks ahead.
It is something that Nigel Worthington’s side proved they were past masters at in their turbo-charged run to the play-offs and Penn wants York to go back to the future in that respect.
Penn said: “There is no panic.
“There has been the expectation from our fans who want us to be up there from the off and put the pressure on us.
“But we can handle it and have got to keep working hard ourselves and try and grind out a few results now.
“It has been a tough start, but we have all the confidence that we will turn it around and turn those draws into wins and then hopefully start looking up the other end of the table.
“We need to go on a little run now and be in the mix around Christmas time, so we can start looking forward to the second half of the season.
“But it takes hard work and we have got to do that ourselves in terms of results.
“I came in January and it was only good from January onwards. But it has been a difficult start this season and only we can turn it around.”
On today’s test, he added: “Newport is a long away trip, but we have prepared right and we have all the confidence we can get three points.
“They are in a similar position to us and, if we beat them, we can overtake them and start looking up.”
Newport were the opposition when York enjoyed one of their finest hours when they beat the south Wales outfit 2-0 to lift the FA Trophy at Wembley in May 2002, thanks to second-half goals from Matty Blair and Lanre Oyebanjo.
The sole remaining survivor from the Minstermen’s line-up on that fateful day who will stride out today is goalkeeper Michael Ingham.
Of late, Newport County have had the better of their encounters with York, certainly in the principality where they have enjoyed three successive wins, including a 3-0 triumph almost 12 months ago.
Ingham is rather more inclined to remember the Wembley episode than recent visits.
He said: “That trophy win seems a very long time ago now, even though I have been in the game for 16 years. While Newport have beaten us a few times since and you can look at them being a bit of a bogey team, you can look at them as not being one after beating them in the Trophy final.
“But obviously we were well beaten last year and are keen to stop that happening again this year.
“It was a good performance from us against Portsmouth last weekend and we want to get a run going now.”
York are missing Michael Coulson (calf) and Wes Fletcher (hamstring), expected to be out for a couple of weeks.
Loan signing Diego de Girolamo, who has joined from Sheffield United, is set for his debut at Rodney Parade.
Striker Jake Hyde, who has been suffering with a calf niggle, will be assessed ahead of the game.
Dave Winfield (thigh) and Josh Carson (hamstring) are sidelined.
Last six games: Newport WDDLWL; York WLDLLD.
Referee: C Berry (Surrey).
Last time: Newport 3 York 0; October 19, 2013; League Two.