York City v Boreham Wood
Tuesday 21st February 2023, 7.45pm
LNER Community Stadium, Vanarama National League

The Wood make the trip to North Yorkshire to take on York City, with the aim of returning to winning ways after three draws on the bounce.


Despite spending the bulk of their history in the Football League, York City have found themselves scrounging around in the non-league after being relegated to the fifth tier in 2004 for the first time since 1929. Despite a brief spell back in League Two between 2012 and 2016 , this preceded a fall from grace for the Minstermen with back-to-back relegations seeing them spend the last five seasons in the sixth tier of English football. The arrival of John Askey as manager saw a turning point for the North-Yorkshire side though, with the former Macclesfield Town forward having a reputation of playing attractive, high-pressing football, something which helped them secure their return to the National League at the end of the 2021/22 campaign with wins over Chorley, Brackley Town and Boston United seeing them come out victorious in the National League North play-offs.

Despite this, Askey would be sacked in November with the Minstermen sitting 12th in the National League and was replaced by David Webb, but the 42-year old lasted just ten games and was dismissed earlier this month with Michael Morton taking the reins as caretaker boss. In attempt to compete in the fifth tier after five years away, the Minstermen added a whole host of players to their ranks in the summer with the likes of Ethan Ross, Luke James, Dan Pybus, Ryan Fallowfield, Manny Duku, Alex Whittle, Fraser Kerr, Gus Mafuta and Sam Sanders arriving at the LNER Community Stadium along with Mitch Hancox and Lenell John-Lewis making their loan moves permanent. They have also been buoyed by the loan signings of Shaqai Forde, Ollie Tanner and Mark Ellis during the winter window, with the former in particular making a significant impact, and they will be hoping this will be enough to see them remain in the National League by May.


Wealdstone 3-1 York City
Saturday 18th February 2023
Vanarama National League

York City fell to defeat on their first visit to Grosvenor Vale, with goals from Corie Andrews, Tarrelle Whittaker and Tarryn Allarakhia sealing all three points for Wealdstone.

City started strongly and had a brilliant chance to open the scoring after just seven minutes when Olly Dyson picked out the onrushing Manny Duku who dragged his effort wide across the face of goal, before Duku had another chance shortly after when a counter-attack saw Ollie Tanner play a lovely switch ball across to the right-hand side, with Duku subsequently going down in the box, but the referee waived away any claims for a penalty. Wealdstone rarely tested the York defence inside the opening twenty-five minutes despite dominating possession, but they produced a golden opportunity inside the opening quarter of the game when Tarrelle Whittaker’s low curling free kick was easily held by Ryan Whitley. However, it the home side who made the breakthrough courtesy of Andrews who volleyed past Whitley inside the penalty area after meeting a cross in from the left, and this opened the floodgates for the Stones after going into the break ahead.

Indeed, they doubled their lead on the hour mark when Whittaker’s low effort from distance beat Whitley after the forward found time and space on the edge of the area to shoot, giving them a two-goal margin to hold on to. City looked to find a way back into the game with a couple of rare chances falling to Duku and Dan Pybus, but neither were able to find a way past Stones keeper Sam Howes. Dyson had another chance for City as they continued to search for a way back into the contest, but the midfielder could only drag his low shot from distance wide of the target, and he would soon be made to pay for this miss when the hosts added third with a couple of minutes remaining. Allarakhia drove forward on the counter attack and had an original shot blocked outside the area by Ryan Fallowfield, but the winger was on hand to stab home the ball on the rebound when he chipped the ball over Whitley from close range to seal the victory. York did score a consolation goal three minutes into second half injury time through Adam Crookes’ tap in, but it was too little, too late as the Minstermen fell to a third straight defeat on the road.


Wealdstone (A) L3-1
Southend United (A) W0-2
Solihull Moors (H) L2-3
Southend United (A) L2-0
Maidenhead United (H) L1-2
Oldham Athletic (A) L2-0

The Minstermen come into Tuesday night’s fixture in pretty poor form, having won just one of their last six games in all competitions while remaining winless in their last five National League games. Defeat at relegation rivals Oldham Athletic kicked off this recent run having previously won their last two games, following up three points over Maidstone United with a penalty shootout victory against Chelmsford City in the FA Trophy. This would be followed by three successive defeats against Maidenhead United, Southend United and Solihull Moors, with manager David Webb being sacked as a result having won just three of his ten games in charge. Assistant Michael Morton took over as caretaker boss and won his first game, with second half goals from Fraser Kerr and Lenell John-Lewis sealing victory over Southend United in the FA Trophy, but they have so far been unable to recreate this in the league, with defeat last time out at Wealdstone stretching their winless run to five games.


UEFA ‘A’ licensed coach Michael Morton joined the Minstermen in December 2022 to become David Webb’s assistant, having previously acted as a Youth Development Phase Lead coach at Premier League side Leeds United. Morton started his coaching career with the Whites in 2005 before making the move to Manchester City, where he worked in academy coaching and talent identification, and later continued to work in youth development as Head of the I2I academy during a spell in which the York-based academy produced nine professional footballers. During this time he also got a taste of senior first team management at Tadcaster Albion, before arriving at the LNER Community Stadium at the end of 2022. He remained in the role for two months, before being chosen to replace the recently dismissed Webb as caretaker manager earlier this month, winning one and losing one of his two games in charge so far.


Watford academy product Shaq Forde is enjoying the best spell of his short career so far, with his loan move to York City proving to be invaluable. After arriving at Vicarage Road at the age of eight, Forde made his first team debut ten years later in an FA Cup defeat at Leicester City having impressed for the Under-18’s and Under-23’s, before gaining his first taste of regular football with a temporary stint at Kings Langley where he notched two goals and as assist in just three games. Despite spending some of it away, the 18-year old’s performances at youth level allowed him the opportunity to train and travel with the first team, and his breakout proved to be a bright spark during a dismal 2021/22 campaign for the Hornets in which Roy Hodgson relegated them, with Forde being named Watford’s Young Player of the Season as a result before signing his first professional contract with the club the following July. He later made the move to the LNER Community Stadium at the end of December on a loan deal until the end of the season, and he has made an instant impact with the youngster netting a stoppage time equaliser on his debut before scoring a hat-trick on his first start five days later, with the forward adding to his tally during a defeat against Solihull Moors to make it five goals in just six appearances.


Boreham Wood 1-1 York City
Tuesday 8th November 2022
Vanarama National League

Goals at the start of each half saw the Wood come out with a stalemate against newly promoted side York City, following up victory in the FA Cup First Round last time out with a third draw in four league games.

It was the hosts who enjoyed the bulk of the possession early on and produced the first real half chance when Zak Brunt threaded a ball through to Lee Ndlovu who showed good pace and strength to beat Sam Sanders and reach the byline before putting the ball into the danger area, but Danny Newton’s effort was blocked. It was York who struck first though after Luke James made his way into the box before being taken down by Jamal Fyfield, with Lenell John-Lewis stepping up to send a powerful low drive beyond Nathan Ashmore from the spot. The Wood looked to hit straight back with George Broadbent going close, and the Minstermen subsequently remained relatively solid as they looked to defend their advantage and go into the break ahead, although they almost extended their lead when James picked up the pieces from a Olly Dyson-led counter attack before sending a shot inches wide of Ashmore’s near post. Away keeper Ross had failed to really be tested up until this point, but Brunt forced him into an outstretched save from 25 yards as he looked to find an equaliser, and they went close again as the game approached half time with Cameron Coxe setting up Brunt, who took too many touches before the move broke down.

A vast improvement was on the cards for the Wood who were determined to get right back into the  game after the break, and immediately levelled the score. Newton showed some excellent skill to take the ball down before firing a volley that crashed off the post, with Brunt’s follow-up being well saved by Ross. However, he could only palm the ball directly into the path of Fyfield who made up for his earlier error by heading the ball over the line. This began a sustained spell of pressure for the hosts who now looked the most likely to score a second, with chances for Coxe, Dennon Lewis and Ndlovu. The game started to get a bit flat as both sides looked to consolidate, although York almost took the lead through John-Lewisw and Michael Duckworth shortly before almost going behind, when a goalmouth scramble required Kerr to put his foot through the ball to clear. Ashmore later needed to be called into action for the first time in a while at the other end to clear Dyson’s in-swinging corner before Dan Pybus saw his follow-up from the edge of the area blocked, and Ross then proved to be the hero at the other end when he pulled off a save from point blank range to deny substitute Josh Rees at the death, with the subsequent corner falling to Fyfield who headed over with the last kick of the game.


In need of a like-for-like replacement for the outgoing Akil Wright, York City opted to bring in Boreham Wood midfielder Gus Mafuta following his departure from the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park. A powerful midfielder, Mafuta had joined the Wood ahead of the 2020/21 campaign after a single season at Hartlepool United, and he quickly established himself in the Wood midfield with 44 appearances in his debut season in all competitions. The peak of that season came in the FA Cup with the Wood reaching the Third Round for the first team, and Mafuta played every minute in that cup run including the visit of Championship side Millwall, registering one assist in the winning Second Round at Canvey Island. Opportunities would find themselves less frequent in his second season but he still featured 31 times in all competitions, helping the club to an early title challenge before kicking off another impressive FA Cup run, and Mafuta once again featured in all three of the first three proper rounds against Eastleigh, St Albans City and AFC Wimbledon, playing 90 minutes in the first two. Having signed a two-year contract when he arrived in Hertfordshire, Mafuta left the club in the summer and joined newly promoted outfit York City, where he has played ten times in all competitions.



Share This