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Football: Improving Vics set to continue great escape; TEAM NEWS Blue Square Premier YORK v NORTHWICH SENTATA SPORTS 7.45pm.

Byline: By Steve Davies

DINO MAAMRIA, the Steve McQueen of non-league management, has finally given himself a chance of pulling off the Great Escape - and unlike the Cooler King he doesn't envisage it ending in tears.

Six weeks ago Maamria's Northwich were quietly doing their time with seemingly no hope of breaking out of their spiral towards the Blue Square North.

But after a sensational run of form in which the valiant Vics have taken 14 points out of a possible 18, Maamria's hot-tailing it for the barbed wire with hope renewed.

Now comes their toughest test for a while but in the mood they are in, get on board at 5-2 with the draw no bet.

Northwich have chalked up seven wins this term, four in the past month, but none against top-half opposition, which is where you'll find tonight's opponents, York.

The Minstermen, licking their wounds after FA Trophy semifinal heartache, are the sturdiest side Northwich have met for a while and boast the pace and power in the likes of Martyn Woolford, Onome Sodje and Richard Brodie to give the visitors' still fragile back three a really torrid time.

City have lost seven times at the Kit-Kat this term, though all of those came before the arrival of Colin Walker, the unassuming gaffer who has transformed the fortunes of the team.

Woolford, poor at Rushden last time out, is electric and ought to be in the mood after getting a flea in his ear from Walker at Nene Park, and they are strong at the back.

But Northwich can now reply with some forward power of their own. Lee Steele, a summer signing but only just back from a hamstring injury, is like a new player and has formed a canny partnership with ex-York marksman Darryn Stamp.

Steele got his 11th of a stop-start campaign in Saturday's 4-0 romp against Farsley, while Stamp made it three in four since moving from Halifax.

A recent victory at Woking shows they can triumph on the road - they 've also won at Droylsden during this late revival while they also beat York away on penalties in the Setanta Shield, a match in which City made only a couple of changes.

The fact that Northwich haven't beaten top-half sides recently could be more to do with the fact that they haven't played any, and York are hardly Aldershot, anyway.

With that in mind, though, 5-2 the draw no bet is a more cautious alternative to the 4-1 on offer in the match result market.

Given the fact that draws are no good for either side - York are going nowhere but are in a good run of form while Northwich have five points to find to escape the bottom four - and that both clubs are blessed with plenty of forward intent, backing more than 2.5 goals looks a wise move.

Recommendations

Over 2.5 goals 2pts 5-6 Betdirect, Stan James

Northwich draw no bet 1pt 5-2 Bet365, Betdirect, Stan James

York

Defender Darren Kelly (calf) limped off at Rushden and midfielder Simon Rusk can't play against his former club under a gentlemen's agreement. Nicky Wroe is battling to shake off a knee problem.

Northwich

Northwich are expected to name the same ten outfield players who started against Farsley. The one change should be in goal because Scott Tynan picked up an ankle injury in the 4-0 romp. Ben Connett stands by.

STORY SO FAR

York Northwich

8 Points from last five league games 11

16 Points from last ten league games 16

LLDWWDWWdW Last ten homes/aways (latest on right) LLLdWLLdWW

1.4 Average goals scored in home/away league games 0.9

1.5 Average goals conceded in home/away league games 2.1

6.0 Average corners gained 4.4

5.5 Average corners conceded 5.9

6.4 Average corners gained home/away 4.5

5.3 Average corners conceded home/away 5.6

10.5 Average bookings points (10 per yellow, 25 per red) 21.1

KEY STAT

There have been at least three goals scored in 13 of Northwich's last 18 games in all competitions

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 25, 2008
Words:693
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