York City boss hails 'exceptional' Easter as Minstermen look to secure play-off place
GOAL.York City's Keith Lowe (2nd left) celebrates his goal with his team mates during the match at Bootham Cresent. Picture : Garry Atkinson (5562137)
YORK City manager Nigel Worthington hailed an "exceptional" Easter after his team moved to within one win of securing a Sky Bet League Two play-off place.
Keith Lowe's fifth-minute goal - his first for the Minstermen - secured a 1-0 home victory over Bury just three days after the same scoreline wrapped up maximum points at Good Friday hosts Oxford.
That six-point haul means seventh-placed City have moved five clear of Oxford, who are the only club who can now deny them a top-seven place.
While the Minstermen were beating Bury, Oxford lost 1-0 at title hopefuls Scunthorpe and must now win both their remaining fixtures against relegation-threatened pair Accrington and Northampton to keep alive their hopes of reaching the play-offs.
Even that will be insufficient, however, if Worthington's team beat either Newport at home on Saturday or Scunthorpe at Glanford Park on the final day of the regular campaign.
Two draws would also be enough from those games for the Minstermen, who are currently unbeaten in 15 fixtures.
On his team's bank holiday exertions, a proud Worthington said: "Playing two important games in the space of four days is not only difficult physically, it can drain you emotionally as well, but the lads have done exceptionally well over Easter and have been worthy of the results."
Worthington has admitted it would be preferable to resolve matters prior to visiting a Scunthorpe side undefeated in 28 matches since mid-November and possibly needing a result to clinch the title, but he has warned his players not to take anything for granted against a Newport team free of relegation worries and out of the play-off picture, adding: "You want everything put to bed before the last game if you can, but the game of football is never straightforward.
"It throws up so many different scenarios and you have got to approach every match in the right way with the same endeavour and energy. We will certainly need to compete against Newport because they are strong and physical and we will need to match that."
Just as at Oxford, City's goal stemmed from a flatly-taken Will Hayhurst corner with Lowe sweeping the ball in from seven yards and Worthington pointed out that it was another reward for the players' efforts on the training ground.
"It was a great corner from Will and it was deliberate," the City chief insisted. "We fizz the ball in with pace and Keith was there to stick it in.
"It's all down to practice and people remembering how to do their jobs. Set-pieces are important situations and you have to try and make things happen from them."
At the other end of the pitch, City kept their ninth clean sheet in ten matches with Worthington quick to praise the whole squad for their contribution to that impressive statistic.
He reasoned: "Clean sheets start from the front, just as when you get a win that starts from the back. At this stage of the season, nothing is about individuals.
"It's all about the squad and Ryan Bowman summed that up when he came on at the end and closed the ball down twice to stop then getting out form the back.
"That took the pressure off us in stoppage time and they are important moments in managing the game through to the end."
Worthington sprung a surprise in his starting line-up when Lewis Montrose was recalled in midfield at the expense of Adam Reed, who went on to enter the action on the left wing at the start of the second half in place of Hayhurst.
Explaining those decisions, Worthington revealed: "I felt, with the physicality of the game, Lewis' height and no-nonsense presence would be a help to us and I thought he had a super game breaking things up and passing the ball well.
"Adam Reed got on at half-time because I felt we just needed a bit more energy down that side and he did a tidy job for us there."
Worthington also applauded the efforts of striker Calvin Andrew who, having not played a game for three months when he joined the Minstermen four weeks ago, completed a whole match three days after only being taken off after 89 minutes at Oxford.
"Calvin has been a big plus for us in both boxes," Worthington said. "When we lost Wes Fletcher to injury, it was a case of seeing what was around and he has answered all the questions in the last couple of weeks.
"I took him to one side after the Oxford match and told him I would give him 70 minutes and then take him off against Bury to be fair to him. But he played the whole game and I just told him I forgot to look at my watch.
"I am sure he will excuse me because he put in a good shift up there, as did Michael Coulson with his never-say-die attitude and that's what it takes to get you somewhere - whether that's into the play-offs, into the play-off final or promotion. I am just pleased for the owners and supporters that we are giving them something to enjoy."
The game was watched by 5,225 fans - City's biggest gate of the season.
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