Ten men York City showed great spirit and determination to defeat Cambridge United 1-0, at Abbey Stadium last night.
Jason Walker’s eighteenth goal of the season and second goal in consecutive games was sufficient enough to punish an injury riddled Cambridge side and leapfrog Kidderminster Harriers into fourth place, as the play-off race heats up.
The Minstermen carried on their excellent record away from home, with only three defeats on the road this season. However, they went into the game with worrying news that first choice keeper; Michael Ingham was unfit to participate, making way for veteran shot stopper, Paul Musselwhite. Other changes included inform Jason Walker and Ashley Chambers, replacing the injured Adriano Moke, as he pulled his hamstring on Saturday and Jamie Reed, taking a seat on the bench. Jon Challinor and Ben Gibson also recovered from their illnesses to regain their places in the starting line up, sacrificing first team positions for Daniel Parslow and Danny Pilkington, whom failed to travel.
York showed signs of encouragement early on, but it was the home side that had the desire to attempt a rare shot on goal first. Liam Hughes’ spectacular first time volley from 25 yards, just whisked past Musselwhite’s post, showing that they weren’t afraid, despite the six places separating them going into the tie.
Lanre Oyebanjo, nearly made Cambridge pay for their lack of concentration on 11 minutes. His attacking instinct allowed him to sneak past the last defender and nudge the ball off the right of his boot, past Danny Naisbitt and into the side netting from 12 yards. City carried on capitalising on their possession, starving Cambridge of the ball for huge periods of the opening half and just like Saturday, Jason Walker and Ashley Chambers, were reiterating a good mutual understanding, with devastating effects. Walker flicked a meticulous ball to Chambers, advancing forward with only the keeper to beat, but his lacklustre chip failed to gain enough height and fell comfortably into the arms of Naisbitt.
As York was enjoying putting the Cambridgeshire side under the cosh, they were dealt a controversial and deemed by many an unfair blow on 39 minutes. According to the referee, Ben Gibson’s 50-50 challenge involving Jonathon Thorpe, seemed malicious and worthy of an instant red and York were forced to play out the remainder of the match reduced to ten men, as Gibson left the field looking rather bemused at the decision.
Despite the man disadvantage and what seemed like a mountain to climb, York continued delving at Cambridge’s back four, un-phased at the sending off. James Jennings’ was penalised for a foul on Lanre Oyebanjo and Patrick McLaughlin’s free-kick, met the head of Chris Smith and Naisbitt was kept busy again just before half time, keeping out the attempt on goal and ensuring Daniel Parslow failed to act on the rebound that flashed in-front of his eyes.
The second half got underway in a comparable fashion to the first, on 50 minutes Matty Blair fired in a menacing ball to Jason Walker, smashing a low shot that was reared up and helped over the bar by Naisbitt’s fingertips. From the consequent corner, Chris Smith’s header from deep in the box was directed just wide of the left post, as York carried on piling on the pressure.
As well as the sending off in the first half, Gary Mills was lumped with further concerns. On 60 minutes, Lanre Oyebanjo hobbled off the pitch giving way to ex Blackburn midfielder, Michael Potts, as he joined the injured Chris Doig, whom pulled up in the first half, adding to the casualty pile up.
Michael Potts was barely on the pitch five minutes, before making an impact. His awareness assisted Jason Walker, as he beat the offside trap, latching on to the immaculate ball, skimming past the defenceless Blaine Hudson, on the edge of the penalty box and drilling a strike across Naisbitt’s goal into the bottom left corner on 64 minutes.
Ashley Chambers almost rewarded Potts with his contribution to the goal, by generously setting one up for his team mate, later on in the second half. Chambers’ pace helped break free from a Cambridge corner, clearing the challenge of Jack Eades and pulling back, to give Potts the follow up, which he scuffed wide of the sticks.
As the game drew nearer to the final whistle, Cambridge could only conjure up aimless balls, and a couple of half hearted chances on goal, which summed up their evening. One of which was an ambitious long range effort by Liam Hughes, which never looked like troubling Musselwhite, on his comfortable, forced upon debut for City.
Last night’s three points may prove vital, as York City took another huge step in cementing a play-off place, with the final two games to go.