Red Rewind: Skipper guarantees York safety
Skipper Chris Smith scored a priceless second-half winner as York City held onto their Football League status with an incredibly tense final-day 1-0 victory at fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge.
The 31-year-old got himself on the end of a long ball into the area and drove in midway through the second period, to the delight of the massed ranks of travelling fans behind the same goal. It was particularly poignant as Derby-born Smith was a member of the side relegated from the league nine years earlier.
Goalkeeper Michael Ingham later made a great double-save during added time, and the visitors weren't to be denied as they achieved their first league double and a very respectable seventeenth-place finish in their debut season back at this level.
Dagenham had earlier enjoyed the better of the first-half action with Brian Woodall curling a free-kick against the outside of a post just before the break.
Even so the visitors continued their remarkable revival under former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington, who achieved in keeping them unbeaten in their final six games of the season while taking an outstanding fourteen points.
The Minstermen were unchanged from the side that defeated Southend United last week after on loan midfielder Adam Reed recovered from a sore hip. He soon had the ball in the net when deflecting in a Jason Walker effort but was ruled offside.
Dagenham were themselves desperately in need of points and clearly looked motivated for the game. Woodall skied from twelve-yards and Kevin Maher blazed over following a corner.
York full-back Lanre Oyebanjo then covered well after the home side had broken from a poor Ashley Chambers corner. Scott Doe next headed wide at the near post before Walker had to carefully guide a defensive header back to keeper Ingham.
The visitors hadn't really shown much up to this point as they struggled to control their passing in the blustery conditions. Chambers broke well but his delivery was in advance of the supporting Reed. Back at the opposite end their inspirational leader Smith twice blocked well and Ingham gathered a low cross.
The closest moment to a goal arrived with five minutes of the opening half remaining. Matty Blair pulled down Medy Elito just outside the area and Woodall's well-struck free-kick clattered against the outside of a post.
The Daggers were also on the offensive at the start of the second period. Luke Wilkinson had scored twice in the corresponding game back in October but his flick on from a free-kick was easily taken by Ingham. The former Northern Ireland international soon fell low to keep out Woodall, who then lashed over from close-range as the subsequent corner crept dangerously across.
York midfielder Reed had unsuccessful claims for a penalty backed by the noisy travelling support while colleague Tom Platt tried a scuffed shot. But Ingham's long punt downfield on 68 minutes crucially found Smith swivelling inside the opposite area and hooking through the legs of keeper Jordan Seabright after his initial header had come back off team-mate Daniel Parslow.
Home striker Josh Scott was immediately wayward at the other end before York striker Blair's cross was parried away by the recalled Seabright.
However, it was Dagenham now desperately in need of a goal and still in real danger of relegation. Billy Bingham's cross was deflected behind for a corner and Wilkinson lifted over the bar. Luke Howell was then superbly denied in added time by the falling Ingham, who heroically beat away Woodall's instant follow-up as his colleagues held on for a third straight victory and ultimate safety.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Seabright, Wilkinson, Ilesanmi, Doe, Elito (Jake Reed 75), Maher, Howell, Ogogo, Bingham, Scott, Woodall
subs (unused): Lewington, Hoyte, Fortune, Saunders, Shariff, Strevens
York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Smith, McGurk, O'Connell, Parslow, A. Reed, Platt, Blair (Coulson 78), Walker (Jamie Reed 86), Chambers
subs (unused): Jameson, Fyfield, Allan, Challinor, McLaughlin
Goals: Smith (68)
Ref: S. Hooper (Wiltshire)
Att: 3,781 (1,159 York)