York’s York Yorks County
The Hatters suffered a first defeat on their travels in almost four months against the full-timers of York City – and on what was likely to be their final visit to Bootham Crescent, ahead of a move for next season by the ‘Minstermen’ to an out-of-town, multi-purpose stadium.
A goal by the hosts’ winger Wes York 14 minutes from time was the ultimate difference between the sides, in the course of a second half that the hosts largely dominated – but following a more even first, which had seen Ben Hinchliffe save from the spot and Paul Turnbull hit the crossbar.
County took to the field in the same 4-2-3-1 formation that had operated to such good effect at Edgeley Park against FC United on the campaign’s opening day – albeit with one enforced change, as Sam Walker was suffering from a virus. Chris Smalley took his place in the starting line-up, allowing Jordan Keane to move from central defence and into midfield alongside Turnbull.
Once the action began, both teams were also compelled to make early substitutions – following a heavy challenge by Simon Heslop on Scott Duxbury that first saw the home player unable to continue, and, subsequently, Duxbury replaced by Kallum Mantack around the quarter-hour mark.
Two minutes before Duxbury’s departure, the Hatters conceded a penalty, after Turnbull had been adjudged to foul Jake Wright. Jordan Burrow placed his spot-kick to Hinchliffe’s left, but County’s Number One guessed correctly to parry it out and keep County on level terms.
The hosts proceeded to press following their miss from 12 yards – with Hamza Bencherif heading a free-kick wide of the left post and Russell Penn firing over from distance.
But around the first-half’s midway-stage, County almost changed the course of proceedings , as Frank Mulhern and Darren Stephenson combined to set up Turnbull, whose first-time strike from the edge of York’s area ricocheted off and over the bar.
Stephenson, who was enjoying an impressive first 45 minutes, fired narrowly shy of the right post as the break approached, before Mulhern poked an effort beyond the same upright in added time.
HALF-TIME: York 0, County 0.
Having ended the first half showing their attacking teeth, the Hatters were once again on the back foot as York set about making the running – not only immediately after the interval, but also for the remainder of Bootham Crescent’s last scheduled evening league contest.
Former Hatter Adriano Moke began the onslaught by blasting just over from outside County’s box, before Burrow headed a Kallum Griffiths cross from the right wide of the far post – and Hinchliffe used his legs to save from Wright, as well as diving to catch a long-range effort by York.
With just over 20 minutes left on the clock, the hosts made a double-substitution – bringing on their previous season’s leading scorer, and powerhouse ‘Beast’ of a striker, Jon Parkin, together with the more diminutive, newly-arrived forward from Gateshead, Macaulay Langstaff.
It was to prove decisive fewer than 10 minutes later, as Langstaff’s impressive run down the left led to a delivery across County’s six-yard box that his former ‘Heed’ team-mate York fired home.
Langstaff then nearly added his own name to the scoresheet – only to see his shot parried behind by Hinchliffe – before fellow substitute Parkin struck the right post, one minute from time.
Mulhern, as at the end of the first half, had sight of goal in added time – but his header, from a Dan Cowan cross on the right, was comfortably held by home goalkeeper Adam Bartlett.
FULL-TIME: York 1 (York, 76), County 0.
Team: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury (Mantack, 15), Keane, Palmer, Smalley, Minihan, Turnbull (Capt.), Mulhern, Warburton (Dimaio, 70), Stephenson (Bell, 59).
Unused Subs: Downing, Ormson.
Attendance: 3,218 (456 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.