as the countdown to the new football season draws to a close, football reporter Leon Wobschall gives his verdict on Yorkshire’s clubs and offers his five key things that each team must improve.
For York City supporters, last season was one that will not be remembered with particular affection - for the second time in the past three years.
The 2014-15 campaign was one that did not really get out of the slow lane, although a commendable run of just two defeats in their final nine League Two fixtures - including a run of four victories in five games - at least averted the nightmare scenario of relegation out of the Football League. For that, everyone connected with the club will at least be truly grateful for.
But it is fair to say there’s much room for improvement needed for the Minstermen, who start the season at Wycombe on Saturday.
Here the Yorkshire Post looks at five things that York need to address in 2015-16.
1: Turn those draws into wins
Twice in the past three seasons since their return to the Football League, York City have claimed the dubious mantle of being League Two draw specialists par excellence. Last season’s haul of 19 in 46 matches equalled their figures in the similarly forgettable 2012-13 campaign when they also flirted with relegation for large parts of proceedings.
Back in 2013-14, the Minstermen - despite a superb seventh-placed finish en route to the League Two play-offs - were also quick off the draw with a bumper 17, a tally which was only eclipsed by Scunthorpe United (21) and Bury (20). Turning those one pointers into three, more especially at Bootham Crescent, is a must if York are to inject genuine momentum into a season and not stall again.
2: Home rule
York’s form at Bootham Crescent since being promoted from the Conference at the end of 2011-12 has not exactly been much to write home about, if you pardon the pun. A thoroughly miserable haul of just five league wins on home soil from 23 matches were registered last term, equal to the statistics of the relegated duo of Cheltenham and Tranmere. York’s home goals tally of 16 had the forgettable ‘honour’ of being the lowest in the league and also had the dubious distinction of being their worst ever tally in their league history.
It also bore similarities to York’s first season back in the league in 2012-13 when a mere six wins were recorded and a lack of goals was also an Achilles heel.
In what is highly likely to be York’s final season at Bootham Crescent, a fitting send-off would be much improved form in their own backyard and endeavouring to turn their ground into something resembling a citadel again. York may be a historically famous walled city, but when it comes to its footballing home, it has been regularly breached too many times over the past three seasons.
3: Find a predatory forward to step up to the plate.
York’s previously mentioned bugbears of drawing too many games and not winning enough at home correlates into point three - their lack of predatory edge at the sharp end of the pitch.
A succession of strikers have often flattered to deceive during their time at the club, with only two, Wes Fletcher and Ashley Chambers, having mustered double figures in the league since the club returned to the big time. Even then, their hauls of ten goals were hardly frightening tallies. How York fans must be craving for a regular scorer in 2015-16.
Last season’s top-scorer Jake Hyde mustered nine in the league, with the onus being on him and the likes of Emile Sinclair and close-season recruit Vadaine Oliver - impressive in the last pre-season clash with Sheffield Wednesday - to find an answer and justify manager Russ Wilcox’s belief that in the aforesaid trio, he has three “top-quality strikers.” Over to you, chaps, with Wilcox also keen on bringing in a fourth frontman to further augment his attacking options.
4: Ensure that the supply line to the forwards is up to scratch.
Being starved of services at times last season ensured York’s strikers had to forage on scraps for parts of 2014-15, with improvement of the supply line from the flanks being essential if the Minstermen are to make more of a positive impact in 2015-16, with the likes of Josh Carson and Michael Coulson being entrusted to deliver and hoping for better fortune than in 2014-15 when they were hampered by injury and form issues.
5: A regular number one to step up consistently.
Four keepers - Michael Ingham, Jason Mooney, Bobby Olejnik and Alex Cisak - were utilised last term to varying effect, with this year seeing a straight shoot-out between long-serving Ingham and newcomer Scott Flinders.
Ex-Barnsley custodian Flinders, born in Rotherham, arrives from Hartlepool United, where he played in a club record 276 games and held a clean sheet record - with the keeper signing a year’s deal with the option of another 12 months.
Both Flinders and Ingham are experienced operators at League Two level, with Wilcox hopeful that their ‘shoot-out’ will bring out the best in each other and ensure that whoever is handed the gloves for York’s league opener at Wycombe on Saturday is kept well and truly on their toes.