York City 2
Chambers 20, Cresswell 29
Argyle 0by RICK COWDERY
WELL, this was not supposed to happen.
Argyle, with three straight wins under their belts, were cast as the April Fool guys at Bootham Crescent, where the home side were victorious for the first time in 17 matches.
It was only the second time that the Pilgrims had conceded more than a goal in a game in the 14 matches since John Sheridan became manager. Given that the previous occasion was at league leaders Gillingham, the result really does give credence to the gaffer’s oft-stated belief that anyone can beat anyone else in League 2.
First-half goals from Ashley Chambers and returning son of York Richard Cresswell secured three points for the home side that resurrected their Football League survival hopes; Argyle remain one of seven other teams covered by four points and with everything to play for in this final month.
No excuses, but the Pilgrims looked plumb tuckered out after having given everything to beat Exeter two days earlier and then coaching the 338 miles to York on Easter Day.
Their side had showed two changes to the starting 11 that paved the way for a third successive league victory at home to Exeter City on Saturday, both in midfield.
Central midfielder Lee Cox had failed to recover from the shoulder injury that forced his withdrawal at half-time in the Devon Expressway Derby, and was replaced, now as then, by Luke Young.
Outside Young, Paris Cowan-Hall was recalled in the stead of man of the match against the Grecians, Andres Gurrieri – a familiar move by manager John Sheridan away from Home Park.
York manager Nigel Worthington stayed faithful to the 18 that had done duty in the 0-0 draw at Bristol Rovers 48 hours previously, which meant home debuts for loan players, Sheffield United forward Cresswell and Sunderland midfielder Adam Reed.
Buoyed by their popular new arrivals, York came at Argyle with similar purpose that they had shown against the Pirates and nearly took an early lead when a deflected pass looped over to Chambers at the far post.
His first time volley threatened to catch everyone by surprise but Jake Cole was alert to the trouble and got across his goal and down quickly to beat the well-taken shot away.
Chambers flashed another shot wide, and Reed headed further past the post, before the Minstermen went ahead when sundry Pilgrims dithered over Reed’s ball into their six-yard box.
They may have been confused by Cresswell’s presence as, possibly offside, he made no attempt to play the ball, but Chambers was not for hanging around and he moved quickly to nip in a clip the ball home.
Argyle found no response and were two down by the half-hour, again the result of some uncertain defending.
They survived the first wave of pressure from another York corner only when Young heroically nodded Tom Platt’s header off the goal-line, but did not make the most of their break by failing to clear, and Cresswell popped in with a header of his own.
Sensing a rare win, York were sharper, stronger and generally more at it than Argyle, who just could not get going, and it was something of a relief that they reached the interval with no further damaged having been inflicted.
With no significant improvement in fortunes in the opening ten minutes of the second half, Sheridan gave his side an attacking transplant, bringing on Nick Chadwick and teenage apprentice Tyler Harvey for Reuben Reid and Saturday’s hero, Jason Banton.
Ronan Murray’s arrival, in place of Cowan- Hall midway through the half was the last throw of the Pilgrims’ manager’s dice, a positive move. With teams so close at the foot of the table, every goal could yet count – Argyle’s difference is decent; their tally not so.
Almost imperceptibly, the Pilgrims edged back into the match, and Murray fashioned their first goalscoring opportunity when he picked out Max Blanchard for a header that skimmed wide.
The afternoon did not get any better for Argyle when Conor Hourihane received his 10th yellow card of the season to pick up an automatic suspension that rules him out of the home game against Cheltenham next Saturday and the visit to Burton the following week.
In response, the young skipper flashed over a drive as the Pilgrims continued to show determination and improvement the longer the game went on.
Joe Bryan shimmied his way into the penalty area to tee up Murray for a shot that was on target but did not trouble York goalkeeper Michael Ingham.
When York broke forward late in injury-time, you realised just how much possession Argyle had in the final half-hour.
It was, though, too little, too late.
York City (4-5-1):
24 Michael Ingham; 2 Lanre Oyebanjo, 5 David McGurk, 4 Chris Smith (capt), 22 Jack O’Connell; 14 Josh Carson, 6 Daniel Parslow, 37 Adam Reed, 18 Tom Platt, 10 Ashley Chambers (11 Michael Coulson 77); 35 Richard Cresswell (9 Jason Walker 77). Substitutes (not used):
1 Arron Jameson (gk), 13 David McDaid, 17 Matty Blair, 26 Patrick McLaughlin, 27 Tom Allan.
1 Jake Cole; 4 Maxime Blanchard, 15 Paul Wotton, 5 Guy Branston, 14 Onismor Bhasera; 7 Paris Cowan-Hall (28 Ronan Murray 66) ; 8 Luke Young; 19 Jason Banton (29 Tyler Harvey 53), 6 Conor Hourihane (capt), 18 Joe Bryan, 24 Reuben Reid (9 Nick Chadwick 53). Substitutes (not used):
2 Durrell Berry, 17 Curtis Nelson, 20 Rene Gilmartin (gk), 27 Andres Gurrieri.
Bryan 45, Hourihane 76, Bhasera 87.
4,682 (671 away).
Photos by Dave Rowntree