After the celebrations and frivolities of Christmas attention will turn to the rigours of the National League once again on Boxing Day. Ferriby begin their Christmas and New Year double header with Yorkshire rivals York at the Eon Visual Media Stadium on Monday. When the season began we were looking forward to this double header as it would mean two local derbies against a big side in the space of a few days but now these fixtures mean so much more.
York have had a truly dismal season and are without a win in the league since the first week of September. This means they now sit at the very bottom of the table with Ferriby sitting 2 places and 3 points above their big city rivals. Ferriby on the other hand have been somewhat of a surprise package. They are also in the relegation zone but many would have expected Ferriby to be bottom of the table at Christmas quite possibly without a win to their name but they have defied the odds on a few occasions and have recently begun to build some good form in the league.
Steve Housham’s side have won 2 consecutive league games for only the second time this season with the second of those coming last week at Maidstone. The first half performance was nothing short of exceptional with the Villagers taking the game to their opponents and deservedly taking a 2-0 lead. Kyle Wootton scored his first goal for the club with a towering header and he will be looking to build on that against York. Stephen Brogan scored Ferriby’s first penalty of the season and at that point Ferriby were coasting. Maidstone played a lot better in the second half and worked their way back into the game. Ferriby were saved by the offside flag on a couple of occasions but they held on for a vital win.
The previous home game saw Ferriby defeat Gateshead 1-0 which meant they had done the double over the team from the North East. In truth the villagers have been very impressive at home recently and they will be hoping to continue that good form against York.
One of the key battles for supremacy in the game will almost certainly be between Mark Gray and big Jon Parkin. Parkin will be familiar with many Ferriby fans after he gained cult hero status during his time at Hull City a few seasons ago. Now plying his trade at York Parkin is a very big unit which can make him a nightmare for defenders. Luckily Steve Housham has a player at his disposal who will more than match Parkin in terms of stature. Mark Gray has been one of Ferriby’s best players this season and has really stepped up his game in light of the increased of quality of striker he is coming up against on a weekly basis.
If Gray can continue his impressive form he could be the key for a win for Ferriby because if they keep Parkin quiet this may well cut off the second phase of York attacks because they will lose the ability to hold the ball up. Whoever wins this player battle may well win their team the three points.
Player Focus: Reece Thompson
Make no mistake Reece Thompson has become a fans favourite in his relatively short time at Ferriby. His pace and energy are excellent qualities for a team at the bottom of the league to be able to call upon and he is the clubs top scorer so is certainly a key player for The Villagers. On Boxing Day however he will be more motivated than most to get a goal. York are Thompson’s former employers and having moved to Ferriby in September it’s fair to say Ferriby have had the better side of the deal.
York are struggling for goals and are below Ferriby in the league and Steve Housham will be hoping Thompson can rub more salt into their wounds by getting the winning goal on Monday.
The Boxing Day fixture will see the biggest crowd of the season so far at the Eon Visual Media Stadium with over 1000 York fans expected to travel the short distance to East Yorkshire. It will be a cracking atmosphere and it will be interesting to see how Ferriby cope in front of the large crowd especially as in some people’s eyes they won’t be carrying the underdog tag as they have been all season. With many expecting Ferriby to be celebrating their third league win in a row at the final whistle it is vital that Steve Housham gives his side a solid game plan and they execute it correctly. If they do they could be sitting 6 points above York in time to welcome in the New Year.