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City's games against rivals may shape play-off bid
10:30am Wednesday 28th November 2012 in Sport
DECEMBER is shaping up to be a crucial month for Worcester City.
By the end of the year, we will have a much better idea of the St George’s Lane club’s play-off credentials.
Not just because they are scheduled to play six fixtures but because the first two are against teams currently vying for the play-offs with City — Chester and Halifax.
Including last week’s remarkable 3-3 draw at Guiseley, another team in the mix, that represents arguably the toughest run of fixtures Worcester will face this season.
After the completion of that trio of games, Carl Heeley’s team will have played each of their promotion rivals once this season. It is then we can perhaps start to judge them in context.
A major factor in City falling just short of nailing down a play-off place last term was their failure to beat the teams also challenging for those positions.
With the notable exception of the fine home success against Gainsborough Trinity, Worcester managed just five draws from their other nine meetings against last season’s top five — the others being Hyde, Nuneaton, Halifax and Guiseley.
That was a record they knew would have to improve this term and, mid-way through the second-half at Nethermoor Park last week, nothing seemed to have changed.
Having already lost to Brackley 2-1 at the Lane last month, a second defeat looked on the cards with them trailing 3-0 against Guiseley with 64 minutes gone.
But two Mike Symons strikes, one from Greg Mills and two red cards for the hosts later, City had pulled off the most unlikely of comebacks.
I know they didn’t win, and with a full complement of players, Steve Kittrick’s side were superior.
City might only be one place below Guiseley in the table but there also 10 points between the sides and, at times, that showed.
But it must have felt like they had won and the never-say-die attitude was there for all to see.
It might just be the spark they need to go on and achieve further success against their promotion rivals and cement themselves in the top five.
Following those fixtures, Worcester are then up against fourth-placed Bradford Park Avenue, who they threw away a two-goal lead against on the opening day of the campaign back in August.
Then it’s Droylsden away the Saturday before Christmas — a team struggling at the wrong end of the table but who beat Worcester 4-1 at the Butchers Arms last season.
Two games in three days at the Lane against Gloucester City followed by Gainsborough completes the month between Christmas and New Year and the former is a huge money spinner.
It will be the last Boxing Day match at the Lane and, as a result, is likely to attract a significantly larger attendance for what is already a well-supported festive fixture.
Indeed, it is possible that only Chester on the final day of the campaign will draw a bigger crowd.
So, for reasons both on the field and off, December looks like being a crucial month.