The inside track on York City as John Askey makes his return with Hartlepool United
Askey will return to the LNER Community Stadium for the first time since his surprise exit from the club last year after the Hartlepool boss guided the Minstermen to promotion to the National League in 2022.
Askey spent a year in North Yorkshire and remains fondly thought of owing to the job he did with the club.
But now Askey is tasked with adding further problems onto his former side as he looks to get Hartlepool’s season back on track in what is a significant period for Pools.
The trip to York represents the second of three consecutive games against teams below Hartlepool in the National League table, following last weekend’s draw with Ebbsfleet United.
Pools have ground to make up in their search for a play-off space with Askey’s side currently six points adrift of Gateshead in seventh place.
Much like Hartlepool, York were tipped to compete for a play-off spot this season given their transfer business in the summer – but so far things have yet to materialise.
The Minstermen have made a change in manager this season with former Notts County and AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley now in charge at the LNER Community Stadium with York just four points behind Pools in the table having taken four points from their last two league outings.
But what can Pools, and Askey, expect from their trip to York this weekend?
We caught up with Gabriel Ramsey of the York Press for the inside track:
York had been tipped by many as a potential 'dark horse' this season, what do you think has gone wrong so far?
York are one of the more financially-backed teams in this division, but whilst they have been able to bring in some big names and appear from the outside to have built a well-oiled side, they’ve struggled to take it onto the pitch.
Changes are currently being made to the club’s training pitch with some players unfortunately underperforming so far, with manager Neal Ardley alluding towards a few who have poor attitudes. But he is making those changes.
It’s taken time for the players to adapt to Ardley’s style of play, and an unfortunate amount of injuries have really limited what Ardley can do with his current squad.
How are York shaping up heading into the fixture with Pools and since the change of manager?
There’s a growing confidence within the squad after back-to-back wins and just two defeats in their last 11 matches, with players also returning from injury.
Thierry Latty-Fairweather, Maz Kouhyar, Michael Duckworth, David Stockdale and Dipo Akinyemi have all returned from injury in recent times, with the squad starting to shape up nicely under Ardley.
Ardley has also let some players leave that aren’t in his plans, such as Mitch Hancox to Hartlepool, and has started to bring in some players of his own, including Will Davies who could debut versus Hartlepool.
What can Pools expect from York in terms of system and style of play?
Ardley likes a patient, possession style of play that plays out from the back with Tyler Cordner an important member of that.
He often lines up in either a 5-2-3 or a 5-2-1-2, depending on who is available, and is likely to choose the latter with three strikers available for selection for Saturday.
City’s wing-backs like to get involved and push high up the pitch with Ryan Fallowfield excelling in that role, whilst Alex Woodyard has proven useful at staying back to help prevent any counter-attacks.
Who are the dangermen to watch out for?
Dipo Akinyemi is York’s dangerman. His prowess in front of goal, and how he has shone since his move back to England in the summer, has been incredible, and he’s solidified himself as one of the division’s leading strikers.
Ryan Fallowfield in right wing-back and Scott Burgess either on the wing or in the number ten role have also impressed, but Will Davies could be handed his first start and will be looking to impress at his new club.
This fixture sees John Askey return to York – how do you expect him to be received and how do supporters look back upon his time with the club?
John Askey is loved by all at York City, and his departure from the club is what really set in motion the departure of a previously unfit owner.
The promotion back to the National League with York is one of the club’s highest points in recent years, with some supporters still referring to him as ‘Sir John Askey.’ So the reception he will receive will certainly be a positive one. Many believe he should never have been sacked in the first place.
It feels like a big game for both teams. How do you see it going?
With Hartlepool’s current run of form and York’s recent resurgence, it might seem biased, but I have to back a York win here.
The addition of Will Davies alongside Dipo Akinyemi, with Lenell John-Lewis coming off the back of a brace in the FA Cup shows the attacking threat City have.
The defence has also shown some much-needed improvements recently with a clean sheet at AFC Fylde and hopefully Latty-Fairweather can be fit for a start.
Hartlepool won’t be underestimated by City and their supporters, but a big crowd is expected in what should be a brilliant affair on Saturday.