11:48am Monday 2nd August 2010
By Tony Kelly
York City wound up their pre-season programme against Football League opposition with another vital strike from merchant of menace Richard Brodie.
But whereas his previous pre-season predatory power to prevail over Scunthorpe was a thunderbolt, it was a blunder-jolt which restored parity for the Minstermen against Saturday’s Bootham Crescent visitors Hartlepool United.
And, in all honesty, it was a blunder-ridden performance by City.
For the first time in several outings against Football League opposition, City combined intricate midfield passing with a distinct bluntness in other areas of the field.
Often second-best to the ball and in the challenge, they were frequently third-rate in providing any cutting edge.
But for an acutely alert intervention from goalkeeper Michael Ingham early in the second half, and the width of the crossbar minutes before the final whistle, City’s friendly fire against superior status opponents would have ended in defeat.
Indeed, City had only one effort on target throughout a subdued display and that yielded the 41st-minute leveller for Brodie.
Last season’s sizzling hot property latched on to yet another inviting cross from on-trial right-back Liam Darville. His near-post header was on target true enough, but was more tame than an arthritic tortoise.
But as the glancing nod flopped into goalkeeper Scott Flinders’ grasp, the ball squirmed from his midriff as he fell to the turf and ended rolling into the net under the guffawing gaggle of home fans in the David Longhurst Stand.
While Flinders was left more red-faced than a toddler transformed into Hell Boy at a face-painting competition, the unlikely strike spared City’s blushes from going in at the interval trailing to a humiliating goal from Hartlepool in the fourth minute.
Then, a corner from the North-Easterner’s close-season Uruguayan import, Fabian Yantorno, drifted across the penalty area for centre-back Sam Collins to lash in a volley from eight yards out with barely a red shirt near him.
Hartlepool were feistier in the tackle and more inventive from that start with City responding with several eye-pleasing passing patterns across the pitch only for the movement to peter out anywhere within 30 yards of the visitors’ goal.
Too often the front three of Brodie, Michael Gash and Peter Till were starved of decent service or out-muscled by a teak-hard Hartlepool rearguard.
Sparse City highlights were a twist and clout by Brodie on the left, his cross to the far post finding no one because the support had all dashed to the near upright, and a peach of a 60-yard cross-field pass from Levi Mackin, City’s best performer, to an overlapping James Meredith.
After half-time the fractured nature of the encounter increased due to the inevitable flurry of replacements. But there is no substitute for class and Ingham underlined his agility with a superb save to paw away a goal-bound header from Joe Gamble.
Darville, Mackin and Daniel Parslow continued to impress most but the home attack evaporated, apart from an intuitive first-time drive from Trialist ‘B’ as he was announced – Leeds United’s Mike Whitwell in reality – which rose just over the angle of bar and upright after 75 minutes.
Three minutes from time Hartlepool’s Armann Bjornsson went closer still with a header which thudded against the crossbar only to cannon to safety as the Minstermen nervously closed out the share-all.
York City: Michael Ingham, Liam Darville, David McGurk (Djoumin Sangare 64), Daniel Parslow, James Meredith, Levi Mackin, Alex Lawless, Jonathan Smith (Mike Whitwell 70), Peter Till (David McDermott 64), Michael Gash, Richard Brodie (Michael Rankine 64).
Subs (unused): David Knight, Jamie Hopcutt, Tom Richardson.
Hartlepool United: Scott Flinders, Neil Austin, Sam Collins (Gary Liddle 46), Peter Hartley, Evan Horwood, Leon McSweeney (Joe Gamble 46), Antony Sweeney, Paul Murray (Steve Haslam 79), Andy Monkhouse (Armann Bjornsson 82), James Brown (Adam Boyd 62), Fabian Yantorno (Denis Behan 66).
Sub (unused): Andy Rafferty.
Referee: Paul Davison (Middlesbrough).
Attendance: 861 (175 from Hartlepool).
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