Blue Square Premier (Play-Off Semi-Final 1st Leg)
Wednesday 2nd May 2012 – Kickoff; 1930hrs
I can’t believe it’s play-off time already, but we go straight into the business end of the season tonight when York City take on Mansfield Town in the first of the two legs play-off semi final at Bootham Crescent on Wednesday night.
Whilst the form book tends to go out of the window for these matches, I think it’s still worthwhile including each team’s home and away records as that tells the whole story; York’s home record finished up on 11-6-6 43/24, and while they finished the season strongly with four wins from their last five matches, they won just twice in their last six at home.
Their stuttering form included wins over relegated Hayes and mid-table Forest Green, but could only manage draws against Tamworth and Newport County, along with losses to Southport and champions Fleetwood Town.
York City’s success will largely depend on their four main play-makers; striker Jason Walker (17 goals, 6 assists), McLaughlin, Blair and Reed (10 goals apiece) with the same trio contributing 18 assists also. Their main weakness though is defending set-pieces and they have a height disadvantage to their visitors tonight and this could be the determining factor.
Mansfield Town will be keen to keep their winning run of six matches going at York on Wednesday night but they will have to work mighty hard for it if they do pull it off. However, they will be buoyed by their last two matches following wins over Wrexham and Kidderminster to set them up nicely for the final push.
Away from home, The Stags ended up with a record of 11-8-4 37/23 with only York City and Fleetwood (3 losses) losing fewer on the road than them. Mansfield’s last seven away matches though ended up six wins and just one loss (which was at champions Fleetwood by the way), so I feel they just have the edge going into this fixture.
Their leading scorer by a mile is forward Matthew Green (28 goals, 9 assists) and he still scored last weekend despite being on the bench for their final fixture against Kidderminster (Green came on in the 82nd minute and scored in the 87th). Winger Briscoe (11 goals, 4 assists), Luke O’Neill (12 assists) and Meikle (7 goals, 5 assists) are the other key personnel, and we’ve seen Mansfield score plenty of goals this season too.
This fixture is inevitably going to be a tight one, but I think Mansfield hold a slight edge over York here, and they might just even take a slender lead back to their One Call Stadium next Monday. Mansfield to just sneak it 1-0, but take the round ball as cover.
Main Pick: Mansfield Town AH0 @ 2.38 Pinnacle
Value Pick: Mansfield Town straight win @ 3.30 Pinnacle