Brave Minstermen snatch late point
Sat 12th Jan 3pm
Striker Jason Walker scored a late equaliser as York City earned themselves a well-deserved 1-1 draw at last season's play-off finalists Cheltenham Town.
Walker converted from close-range after Scott Kerr's 84th minute free-kick had been steered back across goal by skipper Chris Smith following an excellent break from defence by Jamal Fyfield.
Former Burton Albion striker Shaun Harrad had already opened the scoring from the edge of the area midway through the second-half, but only moments after Kerr had shot inches wide at the opposite end. York also suffered a major blow following the goal with the unfortunate David McGurk immediately leaving the action on a stretcher.
And it later took a superb double-save from City keeper Michael Ingham during six minutes of added time for the visitors to claim a share of the honours at a very blustery Whaddon Road.
Manager Gary Mills earlier made one change to his starting line-up with Lanre Oyebanjo replacing hamstring-victim Alex Rodman. Daniel Parslow moved forward into a holding midfield role and John McReady returned on the bench.
Northern Ireland Under-21 international Patrick McLaughlin tried a couple of early efforts for the visitors, with goalkeeper Scott Brown forced to gather the second attempt on the end of decent approach work.
Billy Jones struck a free-kick into the covering wall in reply and York defender McGurk was also required to block well before Keith Lowe headed over from the corner. Marlon Pack next cleared the target from distance.
The Minstermen were certainly holding their own and Matty Blair saw an effort diverted wide after Walker had forced a miscued clearance from keeper Brown. Blair also hoisted another shot over the bar and Walker saw his free-kick deflected behind.
Cheltenham responded with Jake Taylor despatching wide of the angle and York keeper Ingham comfortably gathering Jeff Goulding's 25-yard attempt, while progressive breaks from both Blair and Oyebanjo failed to bring the visitors reward towards the end of a well-contested opening period.
Blair was once again in the action at the start of the second period when collecting from Michael Potts and forcing Brown to save at his near post. Brown also denied Walker from a narrow angle following Kerr's pass while Pack was comfortably over with a replying free-kick.
Cheltenham made a double-change from the bench on 65 minutes and substitute Kaid Mohamed immediately saw an effort blocked, although the visitors were much closer to going ahead when Kerr struck narrowly wide from distance.
But they were to suddenly fall behind moments later when failing to properly clear and witnessing Harrad expertly curling into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the area. To make matters worse, McGurk suffered a neck injury during the build-up and was soon leaving on a stretcher.
Boosted by their success the hosts attacked again with Pack's corner being headed wide by Lowe before their opponents completed two rapid substitutions of their own in a bid to try and discover a way back into the contest.
One of those, transfer-listed striker Jamie Reed, soon had a searching ball across grabbed by Brown after Fyfield had already blasted well off-target. Blair's 25-yard attempt was then taken by the keeper following another lively run.
The game was still incredibly open with York skipper Smith courageously blocking from Pack as Cheltenham continued to chase an opportunity to double their lead.
However, it was the visitors who were deservedly rewarded with just six minutes remaining when Fyfield broke strongly from defence until being brought down by the cautioned Pack. Kerr instantly delivered the free-kick and Smith poked across for Walker to snatch his eighth goal of the season directly in front of the travelling fans.
Not content with that York swept forward again as Blair was nearly set up by Reed, who himself had a shot charged down for a corner following another energetic break from the chasing Blair during a frantic six minutes of added time.
The visitors were then dramatically rescued by their keeper Ingham with a tremendous double-block as Mohamed surged inside the area before opposite number Brown claimed just ahead of the run of Reed following Ingham's long clearance - only moments after successfully defending a couple of late corners.
Cheltenham Town: Brown, Lowe, Jones, Elliott, Jombati, Carter (McGlashan 65), Pack, Penn, Taylor (Deering 90), Goulding (Mohamed 64), Harrad
subs (unused): Roberts, Bennett, Hanks, Duffy
Goals: Harrad (67)
York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, McGurk (Allan 71), Smith, Fyfield, Parslow, Kerr, Potts (Challinor 73), McLaughlin (Reed 73), Blair, Walker
subs (unused): Musselwhite, Bullock, McReady, Platt
Goals: Walker (84)
Ref: D. Bond (Lancashire)