YORK City manager Nigel Worthington was left fuming by the challenge that could end top scorer Wes Fletcher’s season.
Fletcher suffered suspected medial ligament damage to his knee after being hacked down 50 minutes into the 1-0 win at fallen giants Portsmouth – a result, secured by Michael Coulson’s early goal, that lifted the Minstermen into the Sky Bet League Two play-off positions.
Home captain Ben Chorley was sent off for the foul, blasted as “nasty” by Worthington, who had earlier lost Josh Carson to a similar injury.
Carson also looks likely to miss the remainder of the campaign, although Worthington had no argument with the first-half tackle that crocked the Northern Ireland international, leading to his replacement by Fletcher.
Nine-goal Ryan Jarvis could now reclaim his place in the starting line-up, having failed to make the first XI since New Year’s Day and Worthington could also look to bolster his squad prior to Tuesday’s home match with bottom-of-the-table Torquay or Thursday’s deadline for loan signings,
Condemning the actions of Chorley, Worthington seethed: “The challenge on Wes was a bad one. There was no intent to go for the ball at all.
“I never like to see anybody sent off but that was nasty. The one that saw Josh get injured was a good, solid challenge and he just got caught on the wrong side.
“Initially, it looks like both have damaged their medial ligaments but we won’t know for sure what the extent of the damage is until we get them scanned on Monday. It would be disappointing to lose two players because it disrupts what we have been doing, but that’s the game of football.
“You have to deal with these things and it opens the door for somebody else to step in and be a part of maintaining what we have been doing.”
Despite victory being tarnished by the double injury below, Worthington still declared himself “delighted” with a victory at the home of the 2008 FA Cup final winners.
“I am delighted with the result at a club with a great footballing history and an impressive number of supporters who get behind them,” he admitted. “Couls was bright enough to spin on to the throw in for his goal and all the lads were outstanding after that.
“We stayed focussed in the second half to see the job through and I cannot really remember them having a clear effort on goal. It was another big shift from the lads to get their just rewards over the course of 90 minutes.”
The City chief went on to deliver a typically low-key response to his team climbing into the top seven for the first time this term, reasoning: “We have just got to take things one game at a time and see where we are after Scunthorpe away on May 3.
“It’s great to win games – make no mistake about that – but there’s nothing to get carried away about. We’ve just got to keep our solidity, resilience and tremendous team spirit and all those things will make you a strong and successful team.”
Worthington also paid tribute to a travelling support of 794 fans.
That figure represented the sixth largest away following at Fratton Park this season after Oxford (2,500), AFC Wimbledon (1,999), Exeter (1,304), Chesterfield (957) and Newport (864) and dwarfed the numbers taken to the south coast for Saturday fixtures by automatic promotion hopefuls Scunthorpe (174) and Fleetwood (187).
The former Norwich and Northern Ireland boss added: “Coming to a club with 14,000 fans, our away support was phenomenal. They made themselves heard all the way through the game and we are very grateful for that.
“They came a long way and paid a lot of money but, hopefully, it was all worthwhile.”