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Match report: Mansfield Town 1, York City 1
AWAY day draw specialists York City shared the spoils on their Blue Square Bet Premier travels for a fourth successive game against Mansfield Town on Boxing Day.
Having garnered a point from each of their last three league trips to Telford (0-0), Forest Green (1-1) and Barrow (0-0), the Minstermen received the same reward from their festive fixture at Field Mill.
Following Monday’s error-prone 3-2 home defeat to Kidderminster Harriers, it was David McGurk’s turn to play Santa Claus yesterday as he gifted Stags striker Matt Green an 11th-minute goal with his woefully under-hit back pass.
But, after a poor first hour, the visitors dominated the rest of the match and, following Liam Henderson’s 63rd-minute equaliser, might have taken maximum points on the road for the first time since October’s 4-2 win at Hayes & Yeading with Matty Blair, Jamie Reed and Ashley Chambers all threatening with late chances.
Handing Henderson his first league start was one of four changes Mills made to the side that kicked off against Kidderminster, with Daniel Parslow, Chris Smith and Lanre Oyebanjo all earning recalls as City reverted back to 3-5-2.
Oyebanjo was preferred at right-wing back to Jon Challinor, while Jamal Fyfield started in the same role on the opposite flank before swapping with left-sided, centre-back James Meredith.
The Minstermen struggled to make first-half inroads down the sides, however, prompting Mills to utilise substitute Ashley Chambers’ injection of pace at the break and switch back to 4-3-3.
Earlier, Green had celebrated scoring his 15th goal of the season after he easily intercepted McGurk’s weak pass to Michael Ingham, following a hopeful ball down the right channel by Luke O’Neill.
The on-loan Oxford United striker then rounded Ingham and found the unguarded net with his left foot.
On 16 minutes, Ross Dyer fired wide with a shot on the turn and Aman Verma’s attempted lob was grabbed out of the air by Ingham, who had charged off his line after Meredith had blocked a Green strike.
From that effort, City launched a counter attack that was to provide their only first-half shot on Alan Marriott’s goal, but Blair’s low drive was directed straight at the home ’keeper.
Other promising Minstermen attacks, meanwhile, broke down due to a lack of quality in the final third.
Fyfield was a culprit on a couple of occasions, while Blair also ran down a blind alley on the left flank when an unmarked Scott Kerr was screaming for a square pass having charged to the edge of the penalty box.
Early in the second half, Dyer failed to convert two opportunities to double the Stags’ lead.
First, he scuffed a six-yard shot across the face of goal after Green had wriggled his way past Parslow and pulled the ball back from the byline.
Then, on 55 minutes, the eager and elusive Lindon Meikle occupied a host of visiting challenges as he ran purposefully at the heart of the City defence before feeding the galloping Dyer, who was overlapping to his left.
But the Stags striker’s low shot was kept out by the feet of Ingham at his near post.
With the injured Green having departed, City never looked in danger again and grew in confidence during the final half-hour.
First, Chambers curled a free-kick into the away end holding an impressive 931 supporters before Henderson scored his first senior goal for City.
After a Meredith shot was cleared, Oyebanjo’s wildly miscued 35-yard drive fell to the feet of Henderson.
The former Watford striker, making his first appearance since returning from Forest Green on loan, then curled a 15-yard effort inside Marriott’s left-hand post to level the scores.
At the other end, Chambers showed great commitment to the team cause when he charged back to even up a two versus one situation and made a timely interception as Dyer tried to find Meikle.
Hesitancy from Blair, though, allowed Martin Riley to make a recovery tackle after Paddy McLaughlin’s through ball had released his team-mate for a clear run on goal and then Reed’s follow-up effort was deflected inches over.
Chambers’ composure also let him down during the latter stages in promising positions while Smith headed the final chance of the match wide from McLaughlin’s long throw in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Mansfield Town 1 (Green 11), York City 1 (Henderson 63)
York City: Michael Ingham 7, James Meredith 8, David McGurk 6, Daniel Parslow 6, Lanre Oyebanjo 7, Chris Smith 7, Scott Kerr 8, Paddy McLaughlin 7, Jamal Fyfield 6, Liam Henderson 7, Matty Blair 7.
Subs: Ashley Chambers 7 (for Fyfield, 46), Jamie Reed (for Henderson, 75).
Subs not used: Potts, Boucaud, Challinor.
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: Kerr – up for the battle and always ready to drive City forward from the middle of the park.
Mansfield: Alan Marriott, Luke O’Neill, Martin Riley, John Dempster, Kieron Freeman, Aman Verma, Adam Murray, Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle, Ross Dyer, Matt Green (Louis
Subs not used: Shane Redmond, Lee Stevenson, Rhys Day, Marcus Kelly.
Booked: Oyebanjo 7, Dempster 23, Smith 30, McGurk 41.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Carnforth) – erratic at times to both sides’ frustration.
Attendance: 3,551 (931 from City).
Miss of the match: Dyer’s six-yard chance should have tested Ingham.
Save of the match: Ingham proved equal to the same player’s shot at his near post.