Yorkshire clubs are treating visitors too kindly

HOME sweet home? Not in Yorkshire football right now.

York manager Russ Wilcox knows it is a run of form that his team must look to bring to an end quickly.

Of the county’s 11 clubs battling it out in the Premier and Football Leagues, eight have claimed more points on the road than at home this term.

Worse still, seven of those teams have lost more times on home soil in league combat than they have claimed maximum points, while the county also has the only club in the top four divisions without a win on their own patch all season.

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All in all, therefore, a worrying state of affairs for the region and one that is clearly undermining hopes of a White Rose promotion or two come the end of the campaign.

As it stands, only Middlesbrough and Sheffield United occupy a place in the top 10 of their respective divisions and if this dearth of home comforts continues it is difficult to envisage any other club from the county emerging as a serious challenger.

Bradford City are one of those clubs with hugely contrasting records, Phil Parkinson’s men having claimed just two wins and two draws from nine games at Valley Parade compared to the 15 points that have been plundered on the road.

A stoppage-time equaliser on Saturday by Gillingham’s Antonio German brought the latest disappointment for the Bantams, whose only triumphs at home came on the opening day against Coventry City and on October 4 versus bottom club Crewe Alexandra.

For joint chairman Mark Lawn, these Jekyll and Hyde results are a huge source of frustration.

“I put part of our disappointing home form this season down to a shift in tactics early in the season,” this lifelong fan told The Yorkshire Post. “We had the diamond formation and that is probably more suited to playing away from home.

“That is pretty much backed up by our away results, which I’d say is more or less play-offs form. Unfortunately, our home form is more relegation and that is why we are mid-table at the moment.

“Our tactics have changed round of late and we are much more adventurous as a result. We should have won on Saturday and it was disappointing to concede so late on.

“James Hanson hit the post at 1-0 and we looked much more like the side most likely to score the game’s second goal, but then Gillingham equalised and it was hard to take.”

Bradford’s travails on home soil may be frustrating fans, management and players alike, but they are nothing compared to those of York City, who in 11 league and Cup games at Bootham Crescent are yet to taste victory.

Leyton Orient, this weekend’s visitors to Valley Parade, had shared the Minstermen’s mantle of failing to claim three points at home but the East Londoners thrashed Crewe on Saturday.

It means York will retain the unwanted title until at least December 13, when they are next at home, and manager Russ Wilcox insists the only way to end the barren run is to focus on the future.

“The past is the past and gone,” he said. “We can’t change that, but we can change the future and that is what our focus has to be on before we play at home.”

One club bucking the Yorkshire trend of clubs faring much worse on home soil than on the road are Leeds United, who have collected 15 of their 20 points at Elland Road. It is a record only Middlesbrough of the county’s 11 clubs can match.

Alex Mowatt, who recently netted two fantastic strikes in the home draw with Charlton Athletic, said: “We are really enjoying playing at Elland Road.

“Things are a little bit different to last season, in that we are playing a different style. The fans seem to like it. They want the result, everyone knows that. But if we can play more of a passing style of football and get the results then they will be even happier.

“Our fans are great home and away, but they really help us at Elland Road. It feels like we have an extra man.”

Leeds’s home form will be tested to the full on Saturday when leaders Derby County come to Elland Road. Neighbours Bradford, who during one season not so long ago failed to win in the five months between the clocks changing, will be hoping to make their own statement of intent when Orient come to West Yorkshire.

To do so, joint chairman Lawn says the Bantams will have to overcome a couple of factors which he believes help the away teams at Valley Parade.

Lawn said: “We have found over the years that away teams are inspired by their surroundings here at Bradford.

“League One has better grounds than League Two when we were in there but Valley Parade is still one of the better ones and away players like to play here.

“Having one of the bigger crowds also works against us, at times, in a strange way as well, in that quite a few decisions seem to go against us at home.

“We don’t seem to get the rub of the green and I think a lot of that is to do with referees coming to Valley Parade and wanting to prove they won’t be swayed by the big crowd.

“Obviously, the big cliché is of big crowds intimidating referees. But I get the impression referees come here determined not to look like they are being influenced. And that has worked against us. There have been quite a few penalties that I think we should have had at home but the referees have said no.”