SPORTING a handlebar moustache that would be the envy of the meanest of Mexican bandits, Jamie Reed once more proved how deadly he can be when he pulls the trigger in front of goal.
Reed is enjoying Movember more than most at York City and not just because of his impressive display of upper-lip manliness.
The 25-year-old scored his fourth goal of what has become the hairiest month in the football calendar when he pounced for an 88th-minute equaliser during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at high-flying Port Vale.
Having bemoaned his team’s failure to kill opponents off on occasions this season, Minstermen boss Gary Mills decided the time was right to hand Reed his second start of the campaign and kept him on the pitch for a full 90 minutes for the first time since March.
He was recalled somewhat surprisingly at the expense of previously ever-present attacking spearhead Jason Walker and, determined to shed his “super-sub” and “impact player” labels, the former Bangor City forward responded with a performance that will make him difficult to leave out when Mills ponders his first XI for next weekend’s home match with Torquay.
Reed’s movement for his goal, along with that of captain Chris Smith, made the home defence appear as statuesque as the magnificent bronze tribute to long-serving Vale legend Roy Sproson, which was unveiled outside the ground prior to kick-off.
That celebration was accompanied by a slightly, off-putting one minute’s applause once the stadium scoreboard's stopwatch displayed 8:37 – the three-digit number that corresponds with the number of appearances Sproson made for Vale during his 22-year playing career with the club.
But most of those that clapped in Sproson’s memory were booing at the final whistle after they had seen their modern-day team squander a 2-0 lead following the kind of fight-back that has become a signature of Mills’ City side during the last two seasons.
At the home of the Valiants, it was City who looked the braver side by the final whistle, refusing to cave in on a rousing afternoon for the hosts with Reed instrumental in the comeback.
After teeing up Alex Rodman for his first goal in City’s colours midway through the second period, Reed displayed his predatory instincts to smash in a first-time volley from three yards after Smith had perfectly cushioned a far-post header across the goal from Walker’s left-wing cross.
Earlier, the home side had forged in front on 29 minutes just as the Vale Park fans were growing restless with their team’s inability to match City’s possession levels.
Until that moment, Micky Adams’ men had managed just one goal attempt with 17-goal top scorer Tom Pope’s header failing to stretch Michael Ingham.
At the other end, Reed fired wide from 15 yards after collecting a Dan Parslow through ball.
Reed’s low cross from the right was also sidefooted wide from six yards by Rodman after he attacked the far post.
Vale made the breakthrough, though, when Chris Shuker slipped a pass inside Rodman for Richard Duffy to collect down the right flank.
Duffy then picked out Pope, whose eight-yard shot was kept out superbly by Ingham only for Ryan Burge to follow up and blast in from a similar distance after City’s defence had failed to clear.
Shortly afterwards, Louis Dodds fired over from 20 yards and, after Reed had drove wide from distance and Rodman forced a first save from Chris Neal from the edge of the box, the home side were given an opportunity to double their advantage when Smith, falling to his left, handled Shuker’s long-range strike.
Winger Jennison Myrie-Williams made no mistake from the subsequent penalty, driving into Ingham’s bottom right-hand corner despite the City ’keeper diving in the same direction. It was the second spot-kick the City skipper had conceded in three matches but he was to make amends more than once before the game’s conclusion.
The Minstermen made a purposeful start to the second half with Rodman glancing a header wide from 15 yards following Smith’s right-wing cross.
Jon Challinor’s introduction on 56 minutes at right-back, coupled with Lanre Oyebanjo’s switch to midfield, also seemed to improve City’s forward surges both from the flanks and from more central areas.
Just past the hour, Neal fumbled a 20-yard Oyebanjo effort around his near post and Reed fired over on the turn before turning provider for Rodman.
Having rode a challenge from hulking home centre-back John McCombe, Reed released Rodman through the left channel and the on-loan Aldershot attacker stabbed the ball into an advancing Neal’s bottom left-hand corner 12 yards from goal.
Moments later, Neal was to keep out a Parslow header following Challinor’s dangerously-delivered, right-wing cross to the far post and Reed also rose to meet a Jamal Fyfield centre but could not direct his attempt on target.
An increasingly impatient home crowd were forced to wait until the 81st minute for their first second-half sight of Ingham’s goal with Dodds firing off target after slipping Fyfield in the penalty box.
The same player also shot wide from 15 yards and Oyebanjo went close to backheeling into his own net following a low Pope cross.
McCombe then headed over from the consequent corner as Vale belatedly awoke from their second-half slumber but the Minstermen hung in and, on 85 minutes, Mills made his second astute substitution.
Sending on Walker, the former Barrow and Luton forward immediately went close with a curling effort that was nicked wide off a home defender.
He then delivered the cross that saw Smith and Reed combine to level the scores.
There was still time for Smith to hook a Dodds header off the line with Ingham beaten and Clayton McDonald also saw a goalbound, near-post chance blocked.
The Minstermen have now drawn nine League games this season which is more than any other side in England’s top four divisions.
Turning some of those into victories remains the key to closing the gap on the League Two play-off places because that still only amounts to four points.
Port Vale 2 (Burge 30, Myrie-Williams 44 pen), York City 2 (Rodman 67, Reed 88)
Michael Ingham 7
Unlucky to be beaten for the first goal after his fine save and trusty throughout other than one stray kick.
Lanre Oyebanjo 7
Made a seamless switch from right-back to midfield and hosts struggled to contend with his forward surges.
Chris Smith 7
Recovered from conceding the first-half penalty with several important contributions after the break.
Chris Doig 7
Calm and assured at the back and picked the right passes when distributing out of defence.
Jamal Fyfield 7
Battled well against Myrie-Williams and managed to attack down the flank himself when possible.
Dan Parslow 7
Another dependable and intelligent performance from City’s mature utility man.
Danny Kearns 6
Always willing to receive the ball but disappointed at times with his final cross or pass.
Matty Blair 6
Full of honest endeavour as ever but a shame not to see his pace used further up the pitch.
Alex Rodman 7
Finished with aplomb for his goal and should benefit from opening his City account in only his second appearance.
Jamie Reed 8
STAR MAN – a real step forward for the long-time substitute who proved a valid contender for the lone central striking role.
Ashley Chambers 6
Worked hard up and down the right wing but did not threaten the home defence too many times.
Subs: Jon Challinor 7 – dangerous crosses (for Chambers, 56), Jason Walker (for Rodman, 85).
Port Vale: Chris Neal, Adam Yates, John McCombe, Clayton McDonald, Robert Taylor (Shaun McAllister, 74), Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ryan Burge, Chris Shuker (Ben Williamson, 74), Richard Duffy, Tom Pope, Louis Dodds.
Subs not used: Sam Johnson, Joe Davis, Kingsley James, Ryan Lloyd.
Star man: Shuker – provided moments of quality in midfield.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).
Rating: 7/10 – sensible in general and got around the pitch well.
Booked: Smith 72.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 5,388 (379 City fans).
Shots on target: Vale 5, City 4.
Shots off target: Vale 5, City 10.
Corners: Vale 5, City 8.
Fouls conceded: Vale 9, City 7.
Offsides: Vale 1, City 3.