Successive Blue Square Premier victories, achieved in contrasting circumstances, have raised hopes among York City’s long-suffering supporters that this could be the season the Minstermen break into the play-off places and return to the Football League for the first time since 2004.
Ten-man City came away from Gateshead last Tuesday with all three points, and this improbable 2-1 result was backed up on Saturday with a 3-1 home success against Histon, one of the club’s best performances in many months.
Brought forward six days from Bank Holiday Monday, the fixture at the International Stadium offered City a quick opportunity to improve on the previous weekend’s tame 1-1 draw at Hayes and Yeading. However, their first-half showing offered little optimism, with the north-east outfit, recently promoted from Blue Square North, bossing the play and deservedly taking the lead on the stroke of half-time. Advancing down the right flank and confronted with only retreating York defenders, Gateshead defender Alex Francis unleashed a 25-yard effort which screamed past Michael Ingham.
Most likely embarrassed by manager Martin Foyle’s half-time home truths, York were a different proposition in the second period, equalising through Richard Brodie nine minutes in. The England ‘C’ international striker finished cleanly across goalkeeper Jim Provett after leaving Francis for dead. Two minutes later, however, the momentum gained from this leveller was abruptly ended when Richard Pacquette, who had claimed the late equaliser at Hayes and Yeading three days earlier, retaliated to a Wayne Phillips foul and was dismissed.
With the odds stacked against them, however, York soaked up everything Gateshead could launch at them before delivering a sucker-punch of their own with just ten minutes left on the clock. Andy Ferrell, the man of the match, showed determination to cross from the by-line, and £55,000 frontman Michael Gash leapt to produce a power-packed header beyond Provett to snatch the points.
If Tuesday night had been gritty, Saturday’s 3-1 win against Histon, a club likely to again be in the play-off picture come May, at Bootham Crescent was positively silky. City attacked in waves during the opening 45, but had only another Richard Brodie strike to reward their efforts when the interval arrived. The forward nodded beyond Joe Welch after meeting Ben Purkiss’s delivery twelve minutes in.
But Histon were never allowed a route back into contention, and a 58th-minute goal from Adam Smith settled this encounter. When Brodie was released by a through-ball from Alex Lawless, the frontman was crudely felled by an away defender, but Smith was on hand to tuck home the loose ball from close range. It got better for the majority of the near-2,000 strong crowd seven minutes later; when Brodie dusted himself down to calmly convert a penalty he had earned following a rash tackle by Craig Pope.
Danny Wright denied York a clean sheet with a stoppage time consolation, but this failed to detract from one of the finest performances seen at the Crescent in a long time. City currently lie ninth in the standings after the Bank Holiday programme was completed and host Crawley Town this Saturday.