Neal Ardley relishing playing the underdog card as York City reach the second round of the FA Cup for first time in 13 years

DURING YORK City’s epic cup history, the underdog card has been played rather well at certain junctures.

As the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur can testify over the years, among others.

Should the Minstermen beat visiting Wigan Athletic in the second round of the FA Cup on Friday, December 1, it will hardly represent a 'giant-slaying' - but it’s all relative.

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And a scalp nevertheless should York progress against League One opponents.

York City manager Neal Ardley. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images.York City manager Neal Ardley. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images.
York City manager Neal Ardley. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images.

It promises to be a Friday night to savour on home soil for National League outfit City, who booked their place in round two for the first time in 13 years following Tuesday night’s 2-1 first-round replay victory over Chester.

Manager Neal Ardley said: “Obviously there’s financial benefits from it and I am sure the owners will be happy.

"Hopefully, it is something the crowd will be excited about. It’s always nice on a Friday night and they (can) all finish work early and get themselves down here and let’s see.

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"It will be the first time where we’re actually the underdog, so hopefully the mentality shifts a little bit and we play the underdog role well and we have had two tough games as the favourites."

York captain Lennell John-Lewis finished off a well-executed move to put the hosts ahead early on against Chester and hand them the perfect start.

The Minstermen were dominant in the opening 45 minutes, yet proceeded to lose their way after the break before John-Lewis eased nerves with a second goal from close range midway through the second period.

Chester skipper George Glendon soon reduced the arrears to set up a tense finale, but York, despite not being at their best, held firm and prevailed at the expense of their National League North opponents.

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Ardley, whose side are now unbeaten in their last four matches in all competitions, commented: "It was a game of two halves, wasn’t it.

"In the first half, it was controlled and I thought we started the game really well and in the first 10 to 15 minutes, I thought we could have been a couple up in that spell.

"Then their game plan kind of stifled us and we became a bit ‘safe.’ They blocked out the middle area and we were scared to kind of play in there in case we turned it over and they counter-attacked us. We had to be a bit more patient and braver at the same time.

"In the second half, I just thought their manager was giving them a little bit of a ‘shouting at’ in their dressing room. We could hear it as we came in.

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"I just said: ‘Look, they are going to up their game - it’s a cup tie.’ They hadn’t really laid a glove on us with one counter-attack chance.

"It was that shift in mentality in the second half. They started with intensity and were brave. Instead of panicking and hitting it long, they played through the thirds and we never adapted.

"They came out ‘front foot’, we came out ‘back foot’ and found the game a lot more difficult.

"But we found a way to win. I don’t think we game-managed it well. We could have solved problems, but made it very difficult for us.”