York City 2 vs. Crawley Town 2
Blue Square Premier, Sunday 23rd November 2008
**Since this article was written, York City have appointed former Port Vale boss Martin Foyle as the club’s new manager.
A dubious refereeing decision in the dying moments cost managerless York City three desperately-needed Blue Square Premier points on Sunday afternoon.
Crawley Town substitute Lewis Killeen pounced amid a static Minstermen defence to slot home the equaliser in stoppage time, after home goalkeeper Michael Ingham had repelled Thomas Pinault’s spot-kick.
York, who parted company with manager Colin Walker in midweek, had earlier rediscovered some of their lost attacking confidence, but lingering defensive frailties saw them squander a two-goal cushion gained through Onome Sodje’s well-taken brace.
The home side, under the temporary stewardship of journeyman player-turned-manager Neil Redfearn, entered this match without victory in over a month and languished closer to the relegation trap-door than the play-offs following successive defeats against Torquay United and Cambridge United.
Redfearn, to his credit, succeeded in exorcising some of the inherent negativity of the Walker regime, with York starting brightly, spreading the play effectively and creating early openings. The inclusion of muscular Bruce Dyer ahead of Michael Brodie provided York with the capability of sustaining attacks from the long ball, liberating the nippy Sodje to exploit space on the left flank, his preferred position.
With the usually clunky Simon Rusk showing flashes of brilliance and consistently whipping in testing crosses from the right, York offered abundant endeavour in the early stages. Their breakthrough quickly arrived: gaining possession on the left, Sodje waltzed between two markers, traded passes with the veteran Dyer and elegantly finished, side-footed, from six yards. It was a rare flash of imagination from a side whose confidence has been stunted by off-field uncertainties this season.
For twenty minutes or so, the hosts bossed proceedings, to the chagrin of Crawley’s perma-rotund gaffer Steve Evans, though further reward eluded them. Gradually, Crawley, themselves sliding down the table of late, gained a foothold and York retreated into the comforting ineffectiveness of hoof-ball, with Dyer usually unable or simply unwilling to challenge aerially.
However, Crawley lacked a cutting edge, despite the energetic John-Paul Pittman exploiting the woefully organised York midfield, and they retained their advantage until the interval. Captain Mark Greaves barely registered in this fixture; inept in the challenge and lacking authority, although he wasn’t aided by the lapsidasical attitudes of those alongside him.
Remarkably, considering all this, York contrived to double their advantage shortly after the re-start. A fleet-footed break downfield saw Rusk skim past the yellow-shirted wing-back, before squaring for Sodje to thrash the ball home past Simon Rayner.
After this euphoric moment, York offered little to nothing, fading badly and inviting pressure. Evans reshuffled his attacking options with infuriating impact, the introduction of Killeen and Steve Fletcher causing anxiety for David McGurk and Daniel Parslow at centre-back. Adam Quinn promptly halved the deficit after York were unable to clear their lines and the equilibrium of the match shifted.
An inability to retain possession left York besieged for the final twenty inutes, as some skillful attacking build-up and questionable officiating perrmitted wave after wave of Crawley pressure. The visitors’ set-pieces had generated enough uncertainty to justify an equaliser before slackness in defence from Andy McWilliams led to the concession of a spot-kick – duly converted, at the second bite, by Killeen. Cue delirium amongst the small band – roughly the size of your average seminar group – of travelling supporters. York had thrown it away once again.
York City: Michael Ingham, Ben Purkiss, David McGurk, Daniel Parslow, Andy McWilliams, Simon Rusk, Mark Greaves (c), Steven Hogg, Liam Shepherd (Michael Brodie), Onome Sodje, Bruce Dyer (Craig Farrell)
Crawley Town: Simon Rayner, Glen Wilson, Chris Giles, Adam Quinn, Jake White, Simon Weatherstone, Thomas Pinault, Dannie Bulman, Michael Malcolm (Steve Fletcher), John-Paul Pittman (Lewis Killeen), Jamie Cook (Danny Forrest)