York City 1
by RICK COWDERY
ARGYLE lost one unbeaten run but maintained another as they came from behind to earn a point from their long road-trip to the home of the railways.
They conceded a goal for the first time in five matches when Ryan Bowman headed the Minster Men into a lead ten minutes after half-time.
However, another headed goal, from new signing Tope Obadeyi, ten minutes after the on-loan Bury man came on as a substitute in the immediate wake of Bowman’s opener, meant the Pilgrims are now unbeaten in five games.
They came so close to making it three league wins on the bounce in the dying minutes, but City goalkeeper Michael Ingham was in inspired form to thwart Lewis Alessandra and Reuben Reid in quick succession.
Argyle manager John Sheridan had made two changes to the side that earnt a home FA Cup first-round replay at Lincoln the previous weekend, both to a defensive unit that was aiming for a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
The rotated return of goalkeeper Luke McCormick in place of Jake Cole had been flagged up even before the 0-0 draw at Sincil Bank. Centre-back Guy Branston, who had missed the cup-tie because of suspension, won an immediate recall into the three-man back-line as Sheridan opted for a return to the starting line-up that had achieved successive 1-0 league wins prior to the cup break.
Curtis Nelson moved up from defence to the middle of the five-man midfield, which Luke Young dropping down to a substitutes' bench that saw the welcome return of fellow midfielder Dominic Blizzard.
The contest pitted one of the division’s most prolific attacks – only two sides had scored more League 2 goals than York prior to kick-off – against one of its most parsimonious defences, but the first attempt on goal went against type as Alessandra pulled a good save out Ingham.
That was nothing, though, compared to the stop that McCormick made as York stepped up the pressure midway through the half. Instinct, athleticism and positioning all played their part as he sprang to his left to keep out Chris Smith’s point-blank effort from Wes Fletcher’s cross.
Former England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn – a Cornish Janner, of course – watching with the 541-strong Green Army from the away terrace behind McCormick’s goal, cannot have failed to be impressed.
Although those were the highlights of the opening third of the game, the match saw plenty of eager approach play and enthusiastic defence from both sides.
The Pilgrims nearly let themselves down as they entered an eighth hour without having conceded a goal when they carelessly lost possession to Lanre Oyebanjo on their left. It took a couple of penalty-area bodies-on-the-line blocks to snuff out the subsequent threats from Fletcher and Ryan Jarvis.
One of those blocks was by Neil Trotman, who has been pivotal – literally and metaphorically – to the defence’s success since Sheridan moved to the three-man central defensive system.
Trotman was left standing, though, along with his team-mates, as the York central midfield pairing of Lewis Montrose and Elliott Whitehouse cut through the Argyle defence with a brisk one-two. McCormick’s positioning again won the day as he got down well to keep the latter’s shot out.
Sheridan was obliged to make a change at half-time as Jamie Reckord gave best to the heavy cold from which he had been suffering during the week. Young came back into central midfield, with Durrell Berry switching to wide left and Nelson to wide right.
It was not long before new on-loan signing Obadeyi joined the fray from the bench, but, even as he prepared to replaced Rommy Boco, York took the lead.
Some untidy Pilgrims play in midfield allowed the home side to retain the ball and work it out Luke O’Neill on the right-flank. His deep cross to the far post found the head of Bowman, who headed the ball, as the text-book demands, back across and down, and the ball bobbled inside the post.
Sheridan’s immediate response was to bring on another attacking midfielder, Andres Gurrieri, from Branston. Not, though, before the veteran stopper had picked up a sixth yellow card of the season.
So, with still half an hour to play, the Pilgrims were certainly not going to die wondering, and the manager’s brazen desire received quick reward.
The tireless Reid won a free-kick, which Conor Hourihane worked deep to the back post. Max Blanchard’s header did little more than keep the ball alive, but it was enough as, when it dropped on the other side of the goal, Obadeyi was under it to head home.
With both sides committed to attack, there was a cup-tie feel to the final quarter of a decent little clash.
Odabeyi had the City defenders back-pedalling every time he got on the ball, and went close with a rising drive as Argyle threatened to repeat their Mansfield-Northampton late heartbreakers.
They had a chance when Montrose flattened Obadeyi, but Young fired a free-kick from a dangerous area over the crossbar.
And they were denied superbly in the first minute of extra-time when, having worked a patient opening, Ingham made a wonderful double save from Alessandra and Reid.
(4-4-2): 24 Michael Ingham; 30 Luke O’Neill (18 Tom Platt 90), 4 Chris Smith, 6 Daniel Parslow (capt), 3 Ben Davies; 2 Lanre Oyebanjo, 14 Lewis Montrose, 29 Elliott Whitehouse, 11 Ryan Jarvis (10 Ashley Chambers 83); 9 Wes Fletcher, 19 Ryan Bowman. Substitutes (not used): 1 Chris Kettings (gk), 5 David McGurk, 8 Craig Clay, 16 Jamal Fyfield, 17 Richard Cresswell
Booked: Smith 69.
(3-5-2): 23 Luke McCormick; 4 Maxime Blanchard, 16 Neal Trotman, 5 Guy Branston (27 Andres Gurrieri 59); 2 Durrell Berry, 17 Curtis Nelson, 8 Rommy Boco (26 Tope Obadeyi 54), 6 Conor Hourihane (capt), 28 Jamie Reckord (14 Luke Young half-time); 7 Lewis Alessandra, 9 Reuben Reid. Substitutes (not used): 1 Jake Cole (gk), 3 Andre Blackman, 11 Dominic Blizzard, 18 Tyler Harvey.
Booked: Boco 20, Branston 58, Nelson 61.
Referee: Seb Stockbridge.
Attendance: 3,803 (541 away).