The second Sky Bet League 2 match to take place at St James Park this season will pit Exeter City against Nigel Worthington’s York City. Oliver Roderick takes a look at the Minstermen as one of the Grecians’ early opponents in League 2 this term.
After narrowly avoiding relegation out of the Football League in 2012/13, Nigel Worthington inspired York City to a seventh-place finish last season. A narrow play-off defeat to Fleetwood brought their season to an end, but it was still a remarkable improvement on their previous effort.
York’s win over Exeter City on March 1st kick-started their best spell of the campaign, a six-game winning run that propelled the Minstermen from mid-table also-rans to play-off contenders. Big wins included a 4-2 defeat of Portsmouth at Bootham Crescent and a 4-0 demolition of Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. A loss to the Grecians at St James Park blotted what would have otherwise been a perfect record against the Devon clubs, as they recorded home and away victories over Argyle and Torquay United.
After recovering from seven games without a win starting in August, in the end, a winless December blocked York from automatic promotion contention. However, with such a good season behind them, York look feasible candidates to go one better this time around.
The summer so far
York City began the close-season by handing midfielder Michael Coulson, who has scored 11 goals in two seasons for the club since joining from Grimsby Town, a new two-year deal.
Nigel Worthington has signed five new players this summer: full-back Femi Ilesanmi arrived from Dagenham & Redbridge on a two-year deal; goalkeeper Jason Mooney joined from Tranmere Rovers on a similar deal; Jake Hyde left Barnet to sign on for three years at Bootham Crescent, while Wycombe’s Antigua & Barbuda international Marvin McCoy and Anthony Straker of Southend both followed that trio into the club.
Right-back Lanre Oyebanjo rejected a new deal with the Minstermen and signed for Crawley at the start of June, leaving York with a current squad of 19.
One of the most high-profile managers in Sky Bet League 2, Nigel Worthington led York to a very creditable seventh in the league last year, before they were beaten 1-0 by eventual winners Fleetwood in the play-offs.
Having played for the likes of Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Notts County, Stoke City and Blackpool, Worthington earned managerial recognition when he transformed a relegation-threatened Norwich City side into promotion contenders, taking them to the Premier League in 2004. He kept Leicester in the Championship as caretaker in 2007, before spending four years as boss of Northern Ireland.
After a two-year break, Worthington returned to management at Bootham Crescent, replacing Gary Mills as Minstermen boss in early 2013. He kept the Club in League 2 on the final day of his first season, before impressively reaching the play-offs last term.
Ones to watch
Striker Wes Fletcher top-scored for York City on his debut campaign last season, getting ten goals following his move from Burnley, while defender John McCombe and midfielder Michael Coulson both scored at Bootham Crescent as the Minstermen beat the Grecians in March, so are capable of causing a threat to Exeter’s backline.
New signing Jake Hyde scored 26 goals in 67 games at previous club Barnet, and was the subject of interest from a number of Football League clubs before York City secured his signature last month.
Head to head
Historically, this fixture hasn’t brought much joy to fans of the Minstermen of late: while York City won the last clash between the two sides at Bootham Crescent in March, the Grecians have won eight of the last 12, York winning just two of the remaining four. Exeter won the first meeting in October 1958, but York got their revenge by winning the next two, the second of which was a whopping 6-1 win.
Exeter City wins: 22
York City wins: 14
Former Exeter City man Richard Dryden is the current Head of Academy Coaching at York City. Dryden made 92 appearances for the Grecians between 1988 and 1991 and is now part of Nigel Worthington’s backroom team.
Exeter City and York City are just two of the names on the tremendously long CV of John Williams, who had a new club every season between 1997 and 2004. The first club he represented during that period was the Grecians, joining Cardiff City the following season before moving to York City the year after that. Other sides Williams turned out for include Swansea City, Coventry City, Stoke City, Notts County and Wycombe Wanderers.
York City 2-3 Exeter City, Bootham Crescent, Saturday 6th October 2001
Struggling Exeter City carved out a rare three points as a Christian Roberts brace followed Sean McCarthy’s opener to see off York City at Bootham Crescent.
The Grecians found themselves in the relegation places at this early stage of the season but were handed a boost when both McCarthy and Roberts found the target in a three-minute period just after the half-hour mark. The home side upped the ante after the break and pulled one back through Lee Bullock, but Roberts got his second 14 minutes later, meaning Alex Mathie’s injury-time goal wasn’t enough to salvage a point for York.