YORK CITY are deep in the mire. That much has been evident for weeks.
What perhaps was not so clear until Tuesday night, however, was that the Minstermen are not so much flirting with the drop any longer as embroiled in a doomed relationship from which it is becoming increasingly hard to extricate themselves.
York were not in midweek action but victories for Torquay United, Plymouth Argyle, Barnet and Accrington Stanley – a series of results so unlikely that bookmakers would have offered 50-1 ahead of kick-off – led to Nigel Worthington’s side slipping four places down the League Two table and into the relegation zone.
The upshot is York head to Torquay today sitting two points adrift of safety with seven games remaining. Considering it is 14 games and almost three months since the club last enjoyed the sweet taste of victory, perhaps it is no wonder that Worthington last night likened the situation facing his side to a “dog fight”.
The York manager is also in no doubt as to what his players will have to display during the run-in.
“We have to show that bulldog spirit,” said Worthington to the Yorkshire Post. “When you are in a dog fight like we are, that is all you can do.”
Torquay’s midweek win over Chesterfield was as much of a boost to the Devon club as it was a blow to York.
Alan Knill’s men had gone into the Spireites clash without a win in 11 outings and having lost their previous five at Plainmoor.
The challenge for York today, therefore, is to ensure any lift in confidence felt in the wake of Tuesday’s win is quickly eradicated.
Worthington said: “One result could spark the entire season into life. That is sometimes all that it takes. We have got seven games remaining and we have to fight hard. The players have been very bright in training and, to be fair, have looked sharp. The challenge now is transporting that on to the main stage.
“If they can do that, starting at Torquay this weekend, then we will be fine.
“It is all about keeping our nerve and retaining self-belief. We have to go out and play the game as if there are no second chances.”
Richard Cresswell, signed in midweek on loan from Sheffield United, could start as York look to improve on a wretched scoring run that has brought just eight goals in the current 14-game winless run.
At 35, the former Leeds United striker is back at the club where it all began as a teenager and is determined to do his bit to help.
Manager Worthington said: “I was delighted to get Cressy in. He is an excellent professional and someone who can make a real difference. He is also someone who has been round the block, in the nicest possible sense.
“Cressy has played at the very highest level and is also used to playing in pressure situations. That could be invaluable. At a time like this, we need leaders on the field and already I have sensed the positivity he has brought to the dressing room.
“Part of my thinking was the obvious feeling he has for the club. Richard also lives in York and knows what is happening at the club. The more people you have around the place with a love and feel for the club the better.”
Chris Doig will be missing today with ankle ligament problems, but David McGurk has made the trip along with teenage midfielder Tom Platt, who was earlier this week recalled from a successful loan spell with Harrogate Town.
Right-back Lanre Oyebanjo is, though, a doubt with a calf problem despite heading south with the rest of the York squad on Thursday.
The thinking behind heading to Devon early was to ensure the freezing weather that battered the west side of the country yesterday did not lead to a nightmare journey and hours spent on a coach ahead of such an important game.
“We trained at Bristol City on the way,” said Worthington. “Hopefully, the professional approach will lead to the result we want.”
Today’s trip to Plainmoor will be the one-time Northern Ireland manager’s fourth in charge since succeeding Gary Mills in the first week of March. So far, York have been able to claim just one point from a goalless draw with Rochdale.
Asked if the challenge of arresting York’s slide had been harder then he had first envisaged, Worthington replied: “No, the challenge has been exactly as I thought it would.
“I knew we’d need to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in, which is exactly what is the case. So, I have not been surprised in any way as to what is facing us.”
The midweek results of the other sides embroiled in trouble at the wrong end of the Football League have, of course, left York needing to end their wait for a long overdue win sooner rather than later. And with three of their next four games against relegation rivals, there is surely no better time to do just that.
Worthington said: “We can’t afford to rely on others or get too caught up in how they do.
“It has to be all about ourselves and getting the points we need. Tuesday’s results weren’t great, but our focus has not been on them this week.
“It has, instead, been all about how we prepare for Torquay and making sure we do ourselves justice. We definitely didn’t do that last week (against Port Vale) and that was very disappointing.”
Last six games: Torquay United LDLDDW, York City DDLLDL.
Last time: Torquay United 2 York City 2; August 28, 2008; Conference.
Referee: R East (Wiltshire).