Home defeats against League One side Bristol City in the FA Cup and Conference high-flyers Dagenham & Redbridge marred an otherwise encouraging month for York City. Two wins from their three Conference fixtures in November, including a notable victory over promtion rivals Weymouth, leave Billy McEwan’s side still perched on the edge of the playoff places as they approach the halfway point of the 2006/07 season.
The Minstermen did not disgrace themselves in the FA Cup First Round against Bristol City either. Playing in front of their highest crowd of the season at KitKat Crescent, it was the home side who dominated the first half. However in the second, a mix-up at the back allowed Bristol City defender Jamie McCombe to head the ball over Tom Evans in the York goal, which ultimately separated the two sides at the final whistle.
City faced another daunting task the following week when they faced Weymouth. Living up to their nickname of the Terras, Weymouth boasted an unbeaten home record going into the game. However City captain Emmanuel Panther set the tone early in the second half by scoring his first goal for the club in over fifty appearances. Weymouth levelled through Wayne Purser but a headed goal by Jason Goodliffe made it 2-1 to ensure that York became the first side this season to take three points from a trip to the Wessex Stadium.
City had a chance to gain ground on another side challenging for promotion when Dagenham & Redbridge travelled to the KitKat Crescent. However, it was the visitors who took the spoils in an entertaining match, as they twice fought from behind to triumph 3-2. York opened the scoring early on when Martyn Woolford struck from twenty yards, but Dagenham pegged them back before the interval thanks to Craig Mackail-Smith. City’s advantage was restored when Clayton Donaldson pounced from close range, only for Glen Southam to thunder in the equaliser from even further out than Woolford’s earlier effort. York’s woes were compounded further when Mackail-Smith raced away to slot home the winner, and Dagenham held on for victory.
York’s hopes of reaching the playoffs rest largely on the shoulders of young striker Donaldson, whose impressive form has not gone unnoticed by many. Not only has he been called up to the national non-league squad for a fixture against Holland, but Wolves manager Mick McCarthy was spotted in the stands during City’s 1-0 home win over Altrincham, triggering rumours that Wolves were ready to pay up to £200,000 to secure the Bradford-born striker’s services in the January transfer window.
It would be unfortunate to lose such an integral member of a squad who so far look capable of avoiding a repeat of the mid-season slump suffered by the club in the last campaign. Nevertheless, Billy McEwan and his players must remain focused on their goal during the busy fixture schedule in the festive period, which includes a home derby against local Yorkshire rivals Halifax Town, if they are going to keep pace with the Conference’s leading pack.
By Sam Craft