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Match report: Histon 1, York City 2
HISTON might have one or two VAT problems but it was York City who came through a taxing time to triumph 2-1 against the Cambridgeshire villagers.
In doing so, the Minstermen proved their mettle on a ground where they had not tasted success on their previous three visits.
Changing from their manager’s favoured 4-3-3 formation to 4-4-2, after deservedly going into the interval a goal down, also confirmed Gary Mills’ team can secure results in more ways than one.
City struggled to match their bottom-of-the-table hosts’ work-rate during a disappointing first-half display but, after the break and particularly when Michael Rankine was summoned from the bench on 56 minutes, the visitors displayed the necessary determination and desire to complete an impressive fight back.
Victory, ensured by Peter Till’s terrific 86th-minute strike following Leon Constantine’s sixth goal of the season, also moved City into the Blue Square Bet Premier’s top ten, seven points behind the play-off positions with three games in hand on fifth-placed Newport.
Plenty to play for then with City, now one fixture into the second half of their league programme, having taken 17 points from a possible 21.
Histon, meanwhile, remain marooned at the foot of the table with a five-point deduction for providing misleading financial information to the Conference board and a transfer embargo in place until an investigation into their off-field affairs is concluded.
Saturday’s first-half display, though, suggested the Stutes are not ready to accept relegation as their fate just yet.
A shaky start by City saw Greg Young, deputising in defence for the ill David McGurk, get caught out by a long 12th-minute throw.
Antonio Murray then pulled the ball back from the byline but Omer Riza headed over.
Shortly afterwards, Michael Ingham was at full stretch to brilliantly claw away a well-struck 20-yard effort from Lee Wootton that looked destined for his top left-hand corner.
Centre-back Remy Clerima also headed over a great chance after escaping the attentions of Young to meet Zac Attwood’s right-wing free kick to the far post.
At the other end, goal attempts from Constantine and Jamie Reed were too weak to trouble Joe Welch but the Histon ’keeper was beaten by Young’s downward header from a Danny Racchi corner only for Wootton to clear off the line.
It was Jim Stevenson, though, who opened the scoring for the hosts in spectacular fashion on 40 minutes.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who had earlier needed treatment for taking a blow to the head from Andre Boucaud’s boot, must have thought he was still seeing stars when his thumping 25-yard half volley, following Chris Smith’s headed clearance, whistled into Ingham’s bottom right-hand corner.
A concerned Mills took action for the restart, replacing Racchi with Ashley Chambers and switching to a 4-4-2 formation but Rankine’s introduction troubled Histon more.
Within six minutes of his arrival, the 6ft 3in striker had burst down the right channel and delivered a cross for Constantine, whose six-yard header was parried way by an alert Welch.
Moments later, Rankine sidefooted into the net after Chambers had driven across the face of goal but his effort was ruled out by an offside flag.
The former Rushden forward also saw a header cleared off the line by Lanre Oyebanjo with Jonathan Smith following up to test Welch from 20 yards.
Just as City were beginning to curse their luck, however, Constantine levelled the scores.
Chris Smith won a header for the Minstermen and, when the ball sat up for Chris Carruthers 30 yards from goal, his swerving low drive bounced back off Welch’s left-hand post and then struck the home ’keeper allowing Constantine, who reacted quickest, to prod the ball into his unguarded net.
The goal meant the striker has now scored in four of his last five outings with the only exception an 89th-minute substitute appearance in the FA Cup at Darlington.
Histon’s response was spirited as Riza went close with a 25-yard shot that flashed narrowly wide and another chance that he aimed straight at Ingham after running at City skipper Smith.
The decisive strike, however, came when Rankine fed Till on the left and he set off on a diagonal run into the penalty box before firing a 15-yard right-footed drive in off Welch’s crossbar.
Chambers then almost added a third goal before the final whistle but his perfectly-weighted lob over Welch was headed off the line by Oyebanjo again.
Histon 1 (Stevenson 40), York City 2 (Constantine 76; Till 86)
York City: Michael Ingham 8, Daniel Parslow 7, Greg Young 7, Chris Smith 7, Chris Carruthers 7, Andre Boucaud 6, Danny Racchi 6, Jonathan Smith 6, Peter Till 7, Leon Constantine 7, Jamie Reed 6.
Subs: Ashley Chambers 7 (for Racchi, 46), Michael Rankine 8 (for Reed, 56).
Subs not used: Meredith, Mackin, McDermott.
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: Rankine – frightened the life out of Histon’s defenders after his second-half introduction and took the game to the hosts.
Histon: Joe Welch, Erkan Okay, Lanre Oyebanjo, Remy Clerima, Zak Mills, Lee Smith (Dee Okojie, 90), Lee Wootton, Jim Stevenson, Zac Attwood (Lewis Taafe, 90), Antonio Murray, Omer Riza.
Subs not used: Callum Stewart, George Lawton, Max York.
Booked: Boucaud 27, Riza 31, Carruthers 88, Stevenson 90.
Shots on target: Histon 6, York 10.
Shots off target: Histon 3, York 7.
Corners: Histon 3, York 4.
Fouls conceded: Histon 19, York 15.
Offsides: Histon 2, York 3.
Referee: Stuart Burt (Northants). Rating: okay.
Attendance: 578 (236 from City).
Save of the match: Ingham’s acrobatic one-handed save to deny Wootton.
Shot of the match: A toss up between Stevenson’s goal and Carruthers’ post rattler.
Decision of the match: Mills’ call to throw on Rankine.
Head to head - Andre Boucaud v Jim Stevenson
City’s former Trinidad and Tobago international showed flashes of his close control but was afforded no time on the ball by hard-working teenager Stevenson.
The Histon midfielder also showed his willingness to put his head in where it hurts when Boucaud picked up a booking for high feet.
While Stevenson scored a spectacular goal, his City counterpart’s contributions in the final third of the pitch were limited but he did help steady the ship after the break.