Top of the table and unbeaten in 12, Phil Parkinson's Wrexham renew an old acquaintance when they face York City. The match takes place on Saturday December 3 and kicks off at 12.30pm, with the away end sold out and the macth set to be broadcast live on BT Sport.
They won't be visiting familiar ground, though, as The Minstermen moved to a new stadium - the LNER Community Stadium - in 2021, four years after what turned out to be Wrexham's final match at York's former home, Bootham Crescent.
With Jordan Davies suffering a knee injury in the 4-1 win over Farnborough last Saturday, Phil Parkinson will have to make changes to his starting eleven, but players who are recovering from injury are making their way back into the reckoning to increase Parkinson's options in other areas of the pitch. Rob Lainton, Jacob Mendy, Reece Hall-Johnson and Harry Lennon were all on the bench last Saturday, while Ollie Palmer is likely to return to the first eleven.
York have suffered a difficult spell in the last two months. They haven't won in nine games and haven't kept a clean sheet in that run either. Their poor form has seen them slip down the table after a promsing start to their return to the National League following promotion last season, and also cost manager John Askey his job.
Despite the poor run of results, though, the decision to relieve Askey of his duties was not popular with supporters, who hold their ex-manager in great affection. A poll in The York Press saw 91% of fans state that he should not have been sacked, and the reaction to the decision on social media has been overwhelmingly negative.
Some players took to Instagram to speak out against the sacking, with Michael Duckworth calling it an "outrageous decision", while Ryan Fallowfield described it as "madness."
Askey's dismissal has certainly prompted upheaval at the club. Majority share-owner and chairman Glen Henderson has come in for heavy criticism, and the York City Supporters Trust, who own the remaining 49%, felt compelled to speak out after Askey's departure:
"Mistakes have been made, they will be learned from and, to our best efforts, they will never be repeated," a statement read.
"Your Supporters' Trust board were shocked and dismayed to learn of Askey's departure.
"Dismayed at the initial decision, we were then disappointed throughout the day with the manner in which John Askey’s dismissal was handled and communicated. Such a major decision affecting both John and the football club should have been handled better by all involved.....Between the briefing received from Club board members, and having listened to John Askey on the radio the previous evening, the Supporters’ Trust board recognise that the relationship between both parties had reached breaking point....
"On the matter of John Askey’s dismissal, we have presented the Club Board with considerable feedback regarding the events that led to a breakdown in relationships, the lack of earlier interventions, and the overall handling of John’s dismissal. Our feedback reflected the depth of fan opinion. However, the Trust board recognise that the action taken to relieve John of his duties were the culmination of numerous factors that had led to an irretrievable situation.
"While we deeply regret the situation, it is important for the good of the club to move forward and deal with the challenges ahead.
"We are sorry, we will do better."
The trust have also suspended their fund-raising campaign, which was titled "Boosting John Askey's Budget". Askey himself complained that Henderson had been interfering with team affairs.
"Askey united our fanbase and gave pride back to supporters. For that we will be eternally grateful."
-York City Supporters Trust Statement
Speaking to BBC Radio York, Askey said: “I’m really sad. I’ve enjoyed my time at the club and the support has been fantastic.
“It’s not something I wanted to happen, so I’m really disappointed.
“I was disappointed with how it was done. I stood in front of a printing machine, waiting for a letter to be printed.
“I read the letter and it says ‘You’re sacked’. That’s the biggest thing that hurt me more than anything.
“Alastair Smith, the chief executive, gave me the letter. Nobody spoke to me.
“I think I deserve better than that and I think anyone deserves better than that, to be perfectly honest.
“Nobody ever came to me and said ‘John, you’re not doing a good job.’
“I’ve had no contact with anyone. I’ve not spoken to anyone, other than over text, for six to seven weeks.
“When I have spoken to someone, I’ve had to make the phone call....I’m upset.”
For their part, the club claimed Askey had told the club he wanted to leave, but couldn't for personal reasons.
Tim Ryan has stepped in as interim manager, but his two games in charge both ended in defeat. His first game in charge saw his side sunk by a last minute goal at home to Wealdstone, while last Saturday they lost at Dorking.
On Wednesday evening it looked like York's search for a new manager had ended, when Bolton Wanderers coach Sam Hird was made odds-on favourite to take the job, but he decided to stay put.
HEAD TO HEAD
It’s been five and a half years since the ancient rivalry between York City and Wrexham was last played out, and that visit to Bootham Crescent in 2017 was one of our most memorable.
We’ve been lining up against The Minstermen since 1929, when a game at another of their old grounds, Fulfordgate, ended goalless. The balance between the sides was maintained a week later when they drew 1-1 in their first venture to The Racecourse.
That game in April 2017 was a high stakes affair. The hosts were in real danger of relegation, while defeat would mean Wrexham would probably need another win from our final two games to be safe.
Extra spice was added to the mix by the fact that Wrexham were scrapping at the wrong end of the season as a consequence of an awful start to the campaign under Gary Mills, who had moved on and was York’s manager!
Nearly a thousand Wrexham fans travelled to Yorkshire, but things got off to a horrible start when Jon Parkin blasted the ball home to give York a second-minute lead.
It was to be Jordan White’s day, though. The big Scottish target man equalised after half an hour and gave us the lead in the 58th minute.
York’s early energy dissipated as the game wore on, and Wrexham took control in the second half, adding a memorable clincher in the final minute when Leo Smith dribbled through to score the only goal of his Wrexham career.
We’ve only won by a two-goal margin on two other occasions at York. In May 1934 there was also a second-minute goal, but this time Wrexham got it through the legendary Tommy Bamford. By the break we were 2-1 down but two goals from left winger Bob Weale – half the goals he managed in a three-year spell at Wrexham – plus an own-goal secured a 4-2 win.
Our other decisive win at York came on the opening day of the season in 1955. There were no goals in the opening hour, but Eric Littler, Ron Hewitt and Elfed Evans all struck in a 14-minute spell which took the game beyond the hosts despite a late consolation.
We’re unbeaten in our last three games at York, and in four matches overall against them. Our last defeat at Bootham Crescent was in December 2009, when a late Andy Fleming consolation – his only goal in 76 Wrexham appearances - couldn’t prevent a 2-1 defeat.
Since then we’ve drawn 1-1 in 2010, when Jamie Tolley’s goal was cancelled out by a late penalty, and 0-0 the following season as Andy Morrell and Mills fought out a fascinating, high quality tactical battle.
A win would be our third in a row against the Minstermen, equalling our best run of consecutive wins in the fixture, because that 2017 win completed a fifth league double: a John Rooney penalty and a Sean Newton goal earned a 2-1 home win in August 2016. Ironically, the scorer of the winning goal would be lining up alongside Mills in the York camp eight months later as York’s defeat to The Red Dragons played a role in their eventual relegation.
Liam McAlinden's 50th appearance for Wrexham.
Not managed to get a ticket for Saturday's game?
We'll be screening the game live in the Centenary Club, with free entry from 11.30am.