DAVID Longhurst Stand supporters, itching to invade the pitch, were awaiting referee Rob Shoebridge’s final whistle like Olympic sprinters might anticipate a starter gun at KitKat Crescent on Saturday.
Party-poppers, meanwhile, were being passed around the directors’ box just seconds after FA Trophy semi-final opponents AFC Telford United had scored a late consolation goal.
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Andy Brown’s 86th-minute strike could not dampen the spirits of York City fans and board members, understandably united in their elation at reaching Wembley for only the second time in the club’s 87-year history.
Earlier efforts from striker Richard Brodie and Daniel McBreen had given City an unassailable 4-0 aggregate advantage and, when Shoebridge signalled the end of three minutes’ stoppage time, the old ground played host to scenes that would have brought a smile of recognition from members of the 1983/4 championship side who will return to mark the silver anniversary of their record-breaking campaign this week.
Martin Foyle’s players were first mobbed on the pitch and then hailed by singing City supporters when they returned from the dressing room to the directors’ box as champagne corks popped and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu joined raucous celebrations.
Much-maligned, and mostly deservedly so this season, City’s players have excelled in the Trophy, enjoying unlikely victories over Oxford and Kidderminster before admittedly profiting from favourable draws against part-time pair Havant and Waterlooville and Telford.
After going so close to Wembley in the last two seasons, however, few can begrudge the KitKat Crescent faithful a touch of fortune.
Setting the tone for yesterday’s carnival atmosphere with an eye-catching flag display, City’s supporters should certainly contribute to the sense of occasion at the world-famous stadium and will hopefully travel in their droves as the May 9 Trophy final could now prove the club’s biggest and most enjoyable fundraising drive in recent times.
Telford, buoyed by their own impressive travelling army of 689 fans, began Saturday’s second leg match in spirited fashion with Brown’s rising drive from the edge of the box forcing a surprised Michael Ingham to beat the ball away at his near post on seven minutes.
The visitors’ hopes of staging an unlikely comeback were extinguished, however, with a perfectly crafted and executed goal from the Minstermen just past the quarter-hour mark.
Levi Mackin released Ben Purkiss down the right with a searching pass and the City right-back’s control was impeccable before he showed typical composure to pick out Brodie 20 yards from goal.
Top scorer Brodie then produced a stunning left-footed finish that beat Bucks ’keeper Ryan Young after hitting the inside of his right-hand post.
Fellow striker Adam Boyes should have extended the home side’s advantage twice before the break but shot into Young’s chest when sent clear on goal by a crunching Simon Rusk challenge and headed wide from three yards after a Mark Robinson long throw.
Telford failed to test Ingham again though as the Minstermen headed for the dressing room knowing they had to surrender a three-goal lead in 45 minutes to miss out on their Wembley dream.
Jon Adams drove wide from the edge of the box on the hour mark but even those City supporters with the most nervous of dispositions could relax on 62 minutes.
A defensive mix-up, forced by Brodie, saw the ball fall invitingly to McBreen inside the penalty box.
The Australian striker then drove for goal before drilling a low shot past the exposed Young from ten yards.
York City 2 (Brodie 17; McBreen 62), Telford United 1 (A Brown 86)
(York City win 4-1 on aggregate)
York City: Michael Ingham 7, Ben Purkiss 8, Shaun Pejic 7, Danny Parslow 8, Mark Robinson 7, Levi Mackin 8, Andy McWilliams 7, Simon Rusk 8, Richard Brodie 8, Adam Boyes 6, Daniel McBreen 7.
Substitutions: Onome Sodje (for Boyes, 64) 7, Mark Greaves (for Mackin, 69) 7, David McGurk (for Purkiss, 69) 6.
Subs not used: Mimms, Russell.
Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire
City’s star man: Brodie – great goal put tie beyond doubt, worked hard supporting his defence on the left.
Telford: Ryan Young, Lee Vaughan (Jimmy Turner, 78), Gavin Cowan, Stuart Whitehead, James Meredith, Jon Adams, Carl Rodgers, Liam Blakeman (Steve Jagielka, 61), Lee Moore (Simon Forsdick, 55), Andy Brown, Danny Carey-Bertram.
Subs not used: Indy Khela, Dean Williams.
Bookings: Rodgers 19, Vaughan 51.
Shots on target: York 7, Telford 3
Shots off target: York 3, Telford 6
Corners: York 3, Telford 2
Fouls conceded: York 21, Telford 13
Offsides: York 0, Telford 3
Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire).
Rating: level-headed and always in control of proceedings.
Attendance: 3,512 (689 from Telford).
Move of the match: York’s first goal, created by Mackin and Purkiss and finished by Brodie, would have graced Wembley itself.
Miss of the match: Boyes’ failure to claim his second senior goal when he shot straight at Young.
Tackle of the match: Whitehead’s recovery challenge on Sodje that prevented City adding a third goal.
Player watch: Shaun Pejic
Goal attempts on target: 0
Goal attempts off target: 0
Blocked goal attempts: 0
Passes to own player: 9
Passes to opposition: 1
Crosses to own player: 0
Crosses to opposition: 0
Pass completion rate: 90 per cent
Dribbles ball retained: 0
Dribbles ball lost: 0
Dribble completion rate: 0 per cent
Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 5
Fouls won: 0
Fouls conceded: 0
Yellow cards: 0
Final summary: Aside from Telford’s consolation goal when Meredith beat him inside the penalty box, Pejic was rarely troubled during a solid display. He kept things safe at the back. Dependable in the air, he was also not responsible for any of the 21 fouls City conceded.