Red Rewind: City triumph despite penalty miss
The Minstermen crucially kept their nerve despite Jamie Reed missing an early second-half penalty in a highly-important 2-0 victory at Alfreton. Matty Blair broke the deadlock with his seventeenth goal of the season with just over twenty minutes remaining before Lanre Oyebanjo quickly added a second.
But it earlier looked as if York might have missed their chance when after Blair had already struck the woodwork during the opening half, the normally reliable Reed saw a 48th minute penalty saved by goalkeeper Jon Stewart after being brought down inside the area by Darran Kempson.
The result means York continue to hold onto fourth place in the table with four games left despite crucial late goals elsewhere for promotion rivals Southport and Kidderminster Harriers.
Manager Gary Mills made three changes from the weekend with recalls for skipper Chris Smith, Adriano Moke and Danny Pilkington after on loan Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson became the latest ruled out by illness.
There was a big following from the visitors making up almost half the attendance on a wet, heavily overcast afternoon. And they viewed on as their side totally dominated the action on a greasy playing surface which really suited their slick approach.
Recalled winger Pilkington soon had a speculative early lob parried over by goalkeeper Stewart, who was then forced into further action from Patrick McLaughlin's 35-yard effort. Pilkington also hoisted over from much closer after decent interchange between Moke and Reed before Blair fired low against the foot of the left-hand upright from the edge of the area.
York continued to dictate with Pilkington going down without reward inside the box under challenge from Josh Law midway through the half, before then having a free-kick deflected behind. The lively Pilkington and Moke immediately combined from the short corner that was eventually turned wide by Reed.
Alfreton hadn't really threatened until Chris Doig dropped a back-pass short just before the half-hour and Michael Ingham came to the rescue and kept out Anthony Wilson. Back in the other direction, Oyebanjo's 25-yard drive was blocked by on loan Burnley keeper Stewart, who also gathered at his near post from McLaughlin before the Northern Ireland Under-21 international struck wide from distance.
In the final action of an entertaining opening half it was visiting goalkeeper Ingham helping over a firm 35-yard free-kick from Law as the sides reached the break still on even terms despite the clear imbalance in play.
The Minstermen were given a superb chance to go ahead shortly after the restart when Reed was brought down just inside the box, but then struck his low penalty far too close to Stewart as he dropped to his right.
A couple of minutes later a great run by Oyebanjo ended with Reed's shot being deflected behind, while Reed soon crossed for the sliding Anthony Brown to clear over his own crossbar. Reed then delivered for Doig to head wide before Kempson was forced to clear from the line again following Daniel Parslow's ball in.
Alfreton's brief response witnessed Adam Cunnington wayward with a hooked volley while Moke's reply was tipped over by Stewart from another cross by Reed. Sixty seconds later Moke turned in the middle and raced towards the area before Blair drilled low across goal to finally break the deadlock.
And seven minutes later York were further rewarded for their continuous pressure when McLaughlin supplied Oyebanjo to side-foot only his second goal for the club despite the best efforts of skipper Kempson on the line.
Torrential rain then fell to worryingly leave standing water on the pitch, although it had fortunately started late enough to successfully complete the contest.
Home substitute Nicky Deverdics almost took advantage of the increasingly difficult conditions when skidding a low shot wide before keeper Stewart slid out to deny the dangerous Reed late on.
Alfreton Town: Stewart, Law (Deverdics 74), Streete, Kempson, Franklin, Conneely (Jarman 53), Brown, Moult, Mullan (Meadows 81), Wilson, Cunnington
subs (unused): Clayton, Arnold
York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Smith (Fyfield 81), Doig, Meredith, Parslow, Moke, McLaughlin, Blair, Reed (Blinkhorn 90), Pilkington (Challinor 87)
subs (unused): Potts, Tonne
Goals: Blair (69), Oyebanjo (76)
Ref: K. Evans
Att: 1,603 (720 York)