Wilcox looking for York to put in strong finish and pull clear

NOT for the first time in recent years, York City are heading for a dramatic finale to a season.

15 November 2014....... York City v Oxford United, Skybet league 2. Minstermen manager Russ Wilcox. Picture by Tony Johnson

A year ago, this involved an ultimately successful late dash for the play-offs. In the Spring of 2013, the club were embroiled in a fight for their Football League survival just 12 months after achieving the Wembley ‘double’ of promotion and FA Trophy success.

The one constant in all this heart-stopping drama has been York prevailing no matter what obstacles have been put in the club’s way and supporters will be hoping for a repeat this time around.

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York are, as they were two years ago, fighting for their League status after a difficult season. With seven games remaining, Russ Wicox’s men are three points clear of trouble.

It is a decent cushion, though not one that anybody at Bootham Crescent can afford to take for granted ahead of nine days that could go a long way towards deciding York’s fate.

Home games against Cheltenham Town and Hartlepool United, two of the four sides sitting below Yorkshire’s sole representative in the bottom division, sandwich Monday’s trip to Oxford United.

A decent points return and Wilcox’s men could be well on their way to safety. A poor showing, however, and the trap door may be looming just three years after York came bursting out of the Conference in such fine heart.

“We have been down there all season,” said Wilcox to The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s visit from bottom club Cheltenham. “But what matters is how we do from hereon in.

“Starting with Cheltenham, we need a strong finish and the players know it.”

York will be buoyed today by their last outing, a resounding 4-1 win at Mansfield Town, which came despite being reduced to 10 men for an hour.

Following on from a 2-2 draw at Accrington a week earlier, when the Lancastrian club equalised in stoppage time, Wilcox believes York have plenty to build on ahead of taking on a club who appointed Gary Johnson this week in an attempt to stay up.

“Gary has come in and he will bring a lot of experience to the job,” said the York chief. “But he will still have to work with the same players.

“He can’t chop and change anything now. The key for us, though, is that we focus on ourselves and on what we do.

“If we get close to how we played against Mansfield, then we will have a good chance.

“We will be positive. We have to get on the front foot from the start and take the game to Cheltenham.”

York’s record against their fellow strugglers is decent, and includes a 1-0 win at Whaddon Road on New Year’s Day.

At home, however, wins have been hard to come by with only Accrington and Tranmere having left Bootham Crescent empty-handed this season. It is a record that has to improve in the final month.

Wilcox said: “Mansfield gave us lots of positives, but the key is we have to build on it and the performance against Accrington.

“We have scored six goals in two games and that is very pleasing.”

He added: “All that matters is Cheltenham. If we can win, there will be seven points between us and Cheltenham. That is a good sized advantage at this stage of a season and a lot to make up.”

Last six games: York City WLDLDW, Cheltenham Town LDDDLL.

Referee: K Wright (Merseyside).

Last time: York City 0 Cheltenham Town 0; February 8, 2014; League Two.