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Striker Michael Rankine seals rapid hat-trick of home wins for York City
York City striker Michael Rankine was a handful for the Ebbsfleet defence at Bootham Crescent on Saturday, challenging in the air
YORK City might have been a little under-par but Michael Rankine’s tap-in – the football equivalent of a golfing gimme – proved sufficient to sink Ebbsfleet.
Rankine scored the only goal of the game on 36 minutes after visiting ’keeper Lance Cronin could only parry a David McGurk shot.
The Kent strugglers were not, however, complete no-hopers, as might have been expected from a side who have now won just one match in 20 and failed to score for nine hours.
In fact, Ebbsfleet were camped in City’s half far too often for comfort during a second period similar to the one at Crawley a fortnight earlier.
On this occasion, however, despite territorial advantage being surrendered in midfield, the Minstermen’s defence held firm with centre-backs David McGurk and Daniel Parslow both making several important blocks and interceptions to ensure a first clean sheet in ten league matches.
Playing their third home fixture in seven days, it was perhaps inevitable that City would struggle to emulate the attacking standards set in the 3-2 victories over Crewe and Chester.
Chances were, though, still created, especially in the first half, but 17-goal leading marksman Richard Brodie looked a little jaded after his exertions and heroics during the previous two games.
As early as the second minute, Brodie managed to wriggle free of last man Dean Pooley but, uncharacteristically, allowed the Ebbsfleet defender to recover and make a crucial challenge.
Adam Smith also saw a left- footed drive deflect wide off Pooley’s chest before McGurk headed over from a Chris Carruthers free-kick.
Following a tricky Stefan Bailey effort that was safely gathered by Michael Ingham despite skidding off a greasy surface, Carruthers then provided two good aerial opportunities for Brodie.
The City striker headed the first wide after Carruthers had combined with the quick-thinking Ben Purkiss at another set-piece and then gave Cronin the chance to tip over his second effort.
From the resulting corner, however, City forged ahead.
Another Carruthers delivery was only half-cleared and Ebbsfleet old boy Neil Barrett threaded a pass through to McGurk who found himself in a rare situation – bearing down on goal.
His sidefooted finish was saved by Cronin, but Rankine followed up to complete the formality of finding an unguarded net.
Ebbsfleet then saw edge-of-the-box attempts from City summer transfer target Darius Charles and Bailey saved by Ingham – the second after two previous goalbound shots were charged down by McGurk.
Rankine was also denied by Pooley’s goal-line clearance and a diving save from Cronin on the stroke of half-time.
Another two openings for Brodie went begging early in the second half when he fired an angled drive wide of the near post following an Alex Lawless through ball and headed into the hands of Cronin from Carruthers again.
At the other end, McGurk bravely put his body on the line to stop Ishmael Welsh converting a scrambled chance with Ingham beaten.
Cronin, meanwhile, almost let a Parslow header from Barrett’s corner slip through his fingers.
Ebbsfleet forced their first corner of the game on 86 minutes and some sloppy moments in possession saw home nerves a little frayed until Darren Handley’s final whistle signalled another Bootham Crescent victory for Martin Foyle’s men.
York City 1 (Rankine 36), Ebbsfleet 0
York City: Michael Ingham 7, Ben Purkiss 7, Daniel Parslow 8, David McGurk 8, James Meredith 7, Adam Smith 7, Alex Lawless 7, Neil Barrett 6, Chris Carruthers 7, Michael Rankine 7, Richard Brodie 6.
Subs not used: Ferrell, Graham, Gall.
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: McGurk – determined defensive display and called upon more than might have been expected against goal-shy Ebbsfleet.
Ebbsfleet: Lance Cronin, Gavin Heeroo, Ross Smith (Will Salmon, 65), Dean Pooley, Darius Charles, Michael West (Jamie Forshaw, 71), Peter Holmes, Stefan Bailey, Ishmael Welsh (Scott Ginty, 80), Ricky Shakes 6, Magno Vieira 6.
Subs not used: Kane Wills, Matthew Lamprell.
Bookings: Lawless 40, Barrett 53, Rankine 65, Mackin 84, Charles 90.
Shots on target: York 9, United 6.
Shots off target: York 5, United 1.
Corners: York 7, United 2.
Fouls conceded: York 19, United 14.
Offsides: York 3, United 1.
Referee: Darren Handley (Bolton). Rating: puzzling at times.
Attendance: 2,629 (64 away fans).
Cross of the match: Any one of three quality first-half deliveries from Carruthers that created heading chances for McGurk and Brodie.
Block of the match: McGurk’s body-on-the-line challenge to thwart Welsh.
Head to head - David McGurk v Magno Vieira
WHILE his compatriots caused England’s makeshift defence countless problems in Doha on Saturday, Brazilian striker Vieira failed to unsettle City centre-back McGurk.
Vieira was not afforded a sniff of goal by McGurk, who actually went closer to getting on the scoresheet himself at the other end and claimed a rare assist for Rankine’s goal. The former Carlisle forward’s running off the ball was intelligent at times, but was always tracked by the Minstermen’s man of the match.