Centre-back Hamza Bencherif insists York City must still target a high finish in the National League North table, arguing home advantage could be “massive” for potential play-off opponents.
The Minstermen currently lie fifth in the table which, under the new system, would hand them a home tie in the first round of the play-offs, but then see them travel to the third-placed team in the semi-finals. Unless the side finishing seventh then reached the final, City would also travel to their opponents to decide who is promoted to the National League.
The Minstermen have never been higher than fourth this term – a spot they occupied following the run of five straight victories after Christmas. But City’s current position is a little false with sixth-placed Kidderminster just one point behind having played two games fewer and Spennymoor, in seventh, trailing the North Yorkshire outfit by two points with five games in hand.
And, should Martin Gray’s men end the campaign seventh, they would need to negotiate three away ties to secure promotion. Already this term, the Minstermen have lost league games at top-ten teams Harrogate, Salford, Chorley and Stockport.
Salford have been beaten on their own soil in the Trophy, meanwhile, but City’s interest in that competition also ended at Kidderminster. Having tasted defeat at five of their play-off rivals, but only lost to one side – Blyth – outside of the bottom five at Bootham Crescent, Bencherif reasoned: “I know some people will just say if you get into the play-offs, then that’s enough, but the way they have been changed this season makes a massive difference.
“There is a big difference between clubs and stadiums in this division with some, like Harrogate, playing on a different surface. For some of those clubs, it will be a massive advantage playing us at their home ground and we have to try and finish as high as possible, so we don’t get surprised by anything we face away from home.”
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