Red Rewind: Minstermen take mighty stride
York City survived frantic late pressure to earn a priceless 2-1 victory against Southend United in front of a near 6,000 attendance and with hundreds of supporters still locked out of Bootham Crescent.
The Minstermen enjoyed the perfect start with on loan midfielder Adam Reed giving them a first-minute lead but Ryan Leonard equalised midway through the opening half. However, the man for the big occasion, Matty Blair, restored their advantage ahead of the interval, although the hosts were almost denied late on as the visitors went close.
It means that York must now take a point at fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge in their final game next week to be absolutely certain of avoiding relegation following AFC Wimbledon recovering from two-goals down to draw at champions Gillingham. Elsewhere, Aldershot Town, Barnet, Torquay United and Accrington Stanley were all winners, with Plymouth Argyle the only losers on the day.
Manager Nigel Worthington earlier made two changes from the successful side at Northampton Town last week with Jason Walker and David McGurk replacing departed on loan striker Richard Cresswell and teenager Tom Allan. And his side made the ideal start attacking towards the away end as Blair whipped in a cross from the right that was forced in via a deflection by on loan midfielder Adam Reed for his second goal in three games.
Hundreds of supporters were still queueing outside but back inside the stadium the visitors were beginning to settle from that early shock. Barry Corr directed a twelve-yard header from Britt Assombalonga's cross straight at Michael Ingham, whose opposite number Daniel Bentley was soon required to claim an Adam Reed cross-shot as Tom Platt followed up.
However, Southend drew level midway through the opening half with a fortunate equaliser when on loan Jack O'Connell sliced a clearance from Freddy Eastwood's shot and Leonard deflected the ball into the net with the assistance of an upright. Corr then headed over from a corner after a timely block from newly-crowned three-times 'Clubman of the Year' Daniel Parslow.
The Minstermen had strong calls for a penalty turned down when Adam Reed appeared to be bundled over inside the area but was rewarded with only a yellow card for simulation.
His side weren't to be denied for much longer though and reclaimed their lead four minutes before the break when O'Connell received from Ashley Chambers down the left and Walker rose well at the far post to head back for Blair to eventually crash into the net.
The visitors made a change early in the second-half as York attacked towards their favoured home end, with sixteen-goal striker Gavin Tomlin coming off the bench. But it was Corr again heading straight at Ingham before the home side lost goalscorer Reed to injury, with Jon Challinor making a welcome return to duty following his recent broken leg.
The Shrimpers continued to appear dangerous despite Eastwood's shot failing to trouble Ingham after their defender Anthony Straker had already survived handball claims inside his own area. Home midfielder Platt then headed wide of the top corner from a Lanre Oyebanjo long throw while Chambers saw an effort blocked from Walker's low cross.
York were really requiring their defence to remain solid in the face of increasing pressure. Chambers threatened to temporarily relieve it as his break was only thwarted by a last-ditch challenge before Walker's drive towards the bottom corner from Platt's cross was kept out by Bentley.
Southend thought they were back in it with just three minutes remaining when Corr's header was turned in by substitute Tomlin but a raised offside flag rescued the home side.
And they were saved again deep into five minutes of added time when skipper Chris Smith twice cleared off the line during a desperate late scramble.
York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, C. Smith, McGurk, O'Connell, Parslow, A. Reed (Challinor 56), Platt, Blair (Coulson 88), Walker (McDaid 87), Chambers
subs (unused): Jameson, Fyfield, Allan, McLaughlin
Goals: A. Reed (1), Blair (41)
Southend United: Bentley, Clohessy, Straker, Cresswell, Prosser, Lund, Leonard, Laird (Tomlin 52), Eastwood, Corr, Assombalonga (Hurst 69)
subs (unused): P. Smith, Spillane, Phillips, Barker, Pinnock
Goals: Leonard (22)
Ref: G. Salisbury (Lancashire)
Att: 5,975 (584 Southend)
Video Link: YorkCityTV
Video Link: Oli Stone