PREVIEW: Scunthorpe

Episode one of this season’s Humber derby double bill comes just four days after one of the most humiliating defeats in Tigers history. But whereas our form looks suspect, the Scunts recent showings have been ominously good, the highlight being a 6-0 raping of Mansfield last week. City’s assault upon the Legolanders will be boosted by the return of Justin Whittle. He has been out of action since October, but is finally fit to stake a claim to a place in the defence. However, with Brightwell, Perry and Goodison looking solid, he may have to settle for a place on the bench.

Theodore Whitmore’s availability is still uncertain. He looked well off the pace on Tuesday, and will probably undergo a late fitness test to determine whether his groin injury has cleared up. Clint Marcelle is doubtful, meaning David Brown will likely be partnered up front by John Eyre, who can expect plenty of stick from the yellowbellies. As for the Scunts, their platethrowing, pantwetting boss Brian Laws is expected to name an unchanged XI to one that hit the Stags for six, they have no injury worries.

PREVIEW: City v Kettering

City take on Kettering in their FA Cup first round replay with a couple of injury worries. Jamaican international Theodore Whitmore has failed to recover from the groin injury that kept him out of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Carlisle. Clint Marcelle picked up an ankle injury in that game, and will also be unfit, paving the way for a return to the starting eleven for John Eyre, who will likely partner David Brown up front. In defence, City are unchanged, with captain Justin Whittle unlikely to be risked after recovering from injury. Greaves, Brabin and Philpott are expected to once again form the midfield three.

Kettering, now four points adrift at the bottom of the Conference, have recently added two strikers to their frail squad. Darren Collins has returned to Rockingham Road, while 39 year old former French international Amara Simba has also joined the Poppies from Kingstonian. Kettering boss Peter Morris, heavily criticised in recent weeks by supporters, will hope to bring the two up to Boothferry Park, though what role they will play is uncertain, as is the future of Dale Watkins, whose place is now under threat. The winners of the replay will face Bristol City at Ashton Gate in the second round on December 9th.

PREVIEW: City v Carlisle

Theodore Whitmore is City’s only doubt as they prepare to face Carlisle at the Ark. The Jamaican midfielder has not trained properly for two weeks now and is described by Brian Little as being ‘only 80 per cent at the moment’. He missed the Kettering cup tie last week after only returning from international duty the day before. Also missing that day was Whitmore’s compatriot Ian Goodison, he is expected to resume his role at the heart of defence. Justin Whittle has recovered from the knee injury that has kept him out for 5 weeks but is likely to start on the bench.

Up front John Eyre looks likely to keep his place despite a nightmare showing last week, he has been dogged by a back injury for most of the season and has looked out of sorts when used, we could really use an on form striker right now as we push for a play-off placing. Carlisle are currently propping up the division but have won their last two games, beating in form Southend 3-1 and then hammering Conference side Woking 5-1 in the cup last week. Missing for the Cumbrians is Steve Soley who is still recovering from an ankle injury.

PREVIEW: Chesterfield v City

City travel to Saltergate on Saturday hoping to extend their twelve game unbeaten run, but face their toughest test to date from the runaway league leaders Chesterfield. Brian Little is likely to name an unchanged side to the one that vanquished Darlington last week, and to that end Theo Whitmore has not trained in order to rest a sore hamstring. Jason Perry is likely to continue at the heart of defence in the continued absence of Justin Whittle, who has resumed training following a knee injury picked up at Exeter three weeks ago. For the Spireites, former Tiger Dave D’Auria may make his first start of the season in place of Marcus Ebdon following a long term injury. Up front, David Reeves is out injured, with Roger Willis expected to take his place partnering Luke Beckett, who has netted three goals in three games. This game is all ticket and looks to be a sell-out.
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PREVIEW: Darlington

City take on Darlington with the prospect of leading scorer Theodore Whitmore being unavailable for selection. The Jamaican international missed training after incurring a groin injury which has not yet cleared up. However, John Eyre looks likely to be fit, despite struggling through the week with a back injury. It was initially expected that he would miss at least the next two games, but the injury appears to have suddenly cleared up. Captain Justin Whittle is approaching fitness, but the knee ligament damage sustained at Exeter last month is not fully healed, so Jason Perry will once again take his place in the heart of the defence. Despite suffering from injury problems lately, Mark Greaves will be fit to play in the midfield.

It will be a tough game for City, but one they should be looking to win. Darlington are two places below the Tigers, in 14th, and travel quite poorly, with only six of their twenty points coming away from home. They have recently signed Scotland Under-21 striker Kevin Kyle on a month’s loan from Sunderland to bolster their less-than-impressive attack. However, midfielder Gary Himsworth and defender Paul Heckingbottom have both been declared unfit. With Dutchman Tom Kaak leaving Feethams last week, Darlo boss Gary Bennett has a few selection problems on his hands.

PREVIEW: York v City

City travel to the current home of their worst ever manager in mediocre form. The optimism generated by two fine away wins has dissipated after two unimpressive home draws. Still, York are a dismal side, as one would expect for any team managed by ‘Two-Relegations Tel’. Injuries have shorn them of them of former Tigers Gary Hobson and Colin Alcide, though Alan Fettis and Matt Hocking should start. Star midfielder Christian Fox is sidelined with a long term knee injury, but the MincingMen welcome back Kevin Hulme, Wayne Hall and John Williams who all came through a midweek reserve game unscathed.

As for the Tigers, Mark Greaves is fit a raring to go after his hamstring injury appears to have cleared up. That might mean a return to the bench for Brabin, who looked a touch off the pace during the goalless draw against Hartlepool in midweek. John Eyre, who limped off on Tuesday, is rated as doubtful with a hamstring problem, so David Brown may start up front. Captain Justin Whittle is doubtful out after damaging knee ligaments at Exeter last week.

However, not all the talk is about on-pitch matters. York’s idiotic decision not to make the game all-ticket could backfire if more than 3,000 City fans make the short trip north. The York away end holds 3,000, and if the Tiger Nation turn up in greater numbers, the police face the unenviable task of dealing with the problem of either turning them away, or housing them in the home ends. So, well done York. A potentially tense situation made worse by not taking a simple decision even a Scunthorpe fan could see was patently necessary. Still, it’s not all bad. We’re going to see our old friend Terry again. How do the words to Common Dolan go again…

PREVIEW: City v Southend

City aim to continue their impressive form of late as they face Southend at the Ark. At the back, Justin Whittle definitely misses out after damaging knee ligaments in Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Exeter. Mark Greaves is doubtful with hamstring trouble and will undergo a late fitness test. David Brightwell is fit to retain his place in defence, as is Ian Goodison, who was also rated as doubtful. John Eyre might miss out, meaning Brown would keep his place up front with Marcelle, with Whitmore expected to team up again with Philpott and Greaves in midfield.

A win for City will put them on the verge of a play-off position. They currently have 18 points from 13 games, while seventh placed Macclesfield have 20 points. With matches against mid-table Hartlepool and Dolan’s hapless York coming up, City appear to have every chance of entering November in a strong position. However, the Shrimpers themselves are looking good, currently in sixth having beaten Barnet 2-0 on Tuesday. Their away form is not bad, with just one defeat on their travels, while City have just two home victories.

The recent sacking of Alan Little, brother of Brian, appears to have worked, with new boss David Webb stabilising the results, and boosting attendances at Roots Hall. Dangerman for the visitors is Martin Carruthers, who six goals during a loan period at City in 1992. Tomorrow also sees the release of Amber Nectar’s tenth issue, our sellers will be dotted around Boothferry Park before the game, but if you can’t make it then click on the cover picture on the top right for details of how to get one by post.

MATCH PREVIEW – City v Shrewsbury

Brian Little has almost a full squad to choose from for the visit of Shrewsbury to the Ark on Saturday. John Eyre played the last ten minutes of Tuesday’s draw at Mansfield, and looks set to reclaim his first team place after shaking off a back injury. Mike Edwards took a blow to the thigh in midweek but has recovered and is in contention, as is Mark Greaves, who missed the Mansfield game to attend the birth of his son. The only players unavailable are Steve Swales, who has a groin injury (if you don’t leave it alone Steve, it’ll never heal) and John Whitney, who begins a three game suspension. Kevin Ratcliffe’s Shrews destroyed Plymouth Argyle 4-1 on Tuesday, their third successive win.

PREVIEW – Mansfield v City

City are likely to name an unchanged line-up from the one that drew 2-2 on Saturday for the clash with Mansfield at Field Mill tonight. The Tigers battled hard against Orient but failed to pick up those elusive first three points of the season, despite twice taking the lead through Theo Whitmore. They will need to discover a killer touch if the are to take maximum points against the Stags, who crushed Halifax 5-1 at home on Saturday.

There are no new injury worries for Brian Little to contend with, but he will still be without John Eyre who is still troubled by a bad back, and long term absentee Neil Mann. Mansfield boss Billy Dearden has no such worries and is free to select his preferred eleven. The game is all-ticket.

PREVIEW – Leyton Orient v City

Lee Philpott will return to City’s line up as the Tigers search for their first league win of the season at Brisbane Road, the midfielder missed Tuesday’s Worthington Cup game at Notts County after suffering a dead leg last week against Cheltenham. However John Eyre is unlikely to figure against the O’s after failing to recover from a back injury sufficiently. Theo Whitmore returns after missing two games because of international duty, but fellow Jamaican Ian Goodison has not yet arrived back from Kingston. Clint Marcelle will be hoping to keep his place in the starting eleven after an impressive full debut in midweek. Orient have Tommy Taylor has Matthew Joseph back after injury.