Hatters Yorked By Two Early Strikes
County lost on the road for the second time running, after an impressive York City side netted twice before half an hour had been played at Bootham Crescent.
The Hatters had travelled across the Pennines in great heart to take on their old Football League rivals, after hitting another ex-League outfit, Southport, for six at Edgeley Park in midweek. And Jim Gannon duly named an unchanged starting line-up for the first time since the beginning of April, as well as keeping faith with the 4-4-2 formation that had worked to such excellent effect in SK3 four days earlier.
The hosts, meanwhile, included two players who had once plied their trade at EP. And the pair linked up usefully in the early stages to create the game’s first chance, as a through-ball from captain Sean Newton was fired narrowly wide of the right post by striker Amari Morgan-Smith.
After 16 minutes, Newton made an even more telling contribution against his old club when the skipper’s long throw from the left found Simon Heslop – who marked his return following suspension by drilling home from 6 yards in front of goal to give the ‘Minstermen’ the lead.
And 11 minutes later, the other former Hatter doubled York’s advantage. After collecting the ball 35 yards out, Morgan-Smith advanced forward to unleash a curling 20-yarder past Ben Hinchliffe and into the top-right corner.
The timing of this second goal saw celebration immediately combine with commemoration, as the home club led one minute’s pre-arranged applause in tribute to the late David Longhurst, a City player who tragically lost his life whilst in action at Bootham Crescent 27 years previously.
The Hatters, with a little over 30 minutes played, had been forced to make two changes at the back – bringing on Dan Cowan and Chris Smalley for the injured Sam Minihan and Michael Clarke. But they soon looked to have got themselves back in the contest when, after 34 minutes, Matty Warburton’s close-range prod, following a corner, struck the right post and rebounded over the line off defender Hamza Bencherif.
Alas, however, a linesman’s raised flag – allegedly for a foul – ruled out the goal, leaving any joy for County short-lived. And the full-time Minstermen, featuring those ex-Hatters at the fore again, finished the half strongly – with Hinchliffe doing well to block Morgan-Smith in a one-on-one challenge, before watching with relief as a low shot by Newton fizzed past his left upright.
HALF-TIME: York 2 (Heslop, 16; Morgan-Smith, 27), County 0.
The skies overhead turned greyer as proceedings resumed – but County, with a tweaked formation to include a three-man defence, began the new half in brighter mode. Jimmy Ball had two shots stopped by home goalkeeper Jon Worsnop, who, following a short, sharp shower of rain, also did well in the wetter conditions to hold on to a low cross from the right by Cowan.
And with 10 minutes remaining, the Hatters went closer still when Stephen O’Halloran flicked on Sam Walker’s corner from the right – only for Josh Law, by the far post, to clear off the line.
Both ‘keepers pulled off worthy saves towards the end – with Hinchliffe acrobatically tipping over a chipped effort from Alex Whittle on the edge of the box, and Worsnop smothering Walker’s well-struck thunderbolt from distance – to leave the scoreline unaltered, and County still seeking a first victory against York since 1997.
FULL-TIME: York 2 (Heslop, 16; Morgan-Smith, 27), County 0.
Team: Hinchliffe, Minihan (Cowan, 24), Duxbury, Ball (Thomas, 75), Clarke (Smalley, 31), O’Halloran, Stephenson, Winter (Capt.), Oswell, Warburton, S Walker.
Unused Subs: Hampson, Smith.
Attendance: 3,011 (770 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Pics: Mike Petch
Jim Gannon interview
Filmed & edited by Daniel Powell