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Match report: York City 2, Mansfield Town 2
STUTTERING York City have gone three games without a home win for the first time under Gary Mills.
Following on from the 2-2 FA Trophy draw with Solihull Moors and the 3-2 Blue Square Bet Premier defeat to Kidderminster at Bootham Crescent, Mills’ men needed a stoppage-time equaliser from Jamal Fyfield to share the spoils against Mansfield Town yesterday.
Just as against Solihull, when Jon Challinor pounced at the death, Fyfield’s deft finish spoke volumes for City’s character but the Minstermen will be annoyed to have ushered in the new year by conceding an early goal – a habit that dogged their progress at the tail end of 2011.
Matt Green’s 14th-minute strike meant the Minstermen have conceded in the opening quarter of an hour in four of their last five matches.
When Aman Verma then doubled the visitors’ advantage on 72 minutes with his side’s second and last shot on target, City looked on the brink of registering back-to-back league defeats in front of their own fans.
But, while the Minstermen are developing a reputation for unlikely comebacks, Mansfield’s tendency to throw away leads is well established in 2011/12.
Matty Blair’s 77th-minute goal and Fyfield’s late strike meant the Stags have now drawn eight games from a winning position.
Earlier, the hosts had started with defensive stalwarts David McGurk and Dan Parslow as centre-half partners in a back four for the first time in a league match this season but still fell behind to the first chance of the afternoon.
Liam Henderson, who had just been switched from centre forward to the right flank, failed to track overlapping full back Kieron Freeman.
The on-loan Nottingham Forest left-back then raced on to Lindon Meikle’s pass and his low cross was turned in from five yards by Green.
City’s first opportunity of the match, meanwhile, fell to Henderson on 20 minutes after Paddy McLaughlin’s pass ricocheted favourably to him in the penalty box.
But the off-balance former Watford striker’s shot was at a comfortable height for Stags ’keeper Alan Marriott to tip over.
James Meredith should have then claimed only his second goal in three seasons as a City player but guided the ball past Marriott’s left-hand post from ten yards with only the Mansfield ’keeper to beat.
At the other end, Anthony Howell’s 15-yard effort flashed narrowly wide after Meredith had stopped Green in his tracks.
The injury-plagued McGurk then departed the action with a calf problem with Mills sending on the dropped Fyfield as a replacement.
As the first half drew to a close, Marriott made a routine near-post save from Blair, who was then inches away from converting a Parslow header at the far post following Scott Kerr’s free-kick.
After the interval, McLaughlin’s edge-of-the-box effort failed to unduly trouble Marriott, Parslow headed wide from an Andre Boucaud free-kick and Jamie Reed got his bearings wrong 12 yards from goal after a pass from fellow substitute Danny Pilkington.
Paul Cox’s men were more clinical on the counter attack, however, when Reed lost possession on the edge of the visitors’ 18-yard box.
With City outnumbered at the back, Green’s clever backheel found Verma and he fired powerfully past Michael Ingham from 15 yards despite Parslow’s valiant attempt at a last-ditch tackle.
The Minstermen were back in the game, though, five minutes later when Blair bundled the ball over the line from three yards after Meredith had raided down the left and delivered a dangerous low cross.
On 84 minutes, Blair was crowded out after a purposeful run into the Stags’ penalty box only for the ball to loop into the air and fall to Reed eight yards from goal.
But an alert Marriott charged off his line and, leaping into the air, spread himself well to ultimately keep out Reed’s volley with his left heel.
The one-time Lincoln ’keeper could only watch City’s equaliser float over his head and under the crossbar, however, during the first minute of added-on time.
Fyfield found himself in an excellent position after Parslow had won a header in the visitors’ penalty box and displayed immaculate composure to chip Marriott from eight yards with the outside of his left boot.
York City 2 (Blair 77; Fyfield 90), Mansfield Town 2 (Green 14; Verma 72)
York City: Michael Ingham 6, Lanre Oyebanjo 6, David McGurk 6, Daniel Parslow 8, James Meredith 6, Andre Boucaud 6, Scott Kerr 7, Paddy McLaughlin 6, Ashley Chambers 5, Liam Henderson 5, Matty Blair 6.
Subs: Jamal Fyfield 7 (for McGurk, 32), Jamie Reed 6 (for Henderson, 55), Danny Pilkington 6 (for Chambers, 66). Not used: Moké, Challinor.
Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.
Star man: Parslow – committed as ever. Never gave up, epitomised by his assist for Fyfield’s equaliser.
Mansfield: Alan Marriott, Luke O’Neill, Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, Kieron Freeman, Gary Roberts (Lee Stevenson, 90), Adam Murray, Anthony Howell (Aman Verma, 46), Ross Dyer, Matt Green (Jon Worthington, 88), Lindon Meikle. Subs not used: Louis Briscoe, Shane Redmond.
Booked: Howell 45, O’Neill 52, Freeman 63, Roberts 79, Marriott 90.
Shots on target: City 6, Stags 2.
Shots off target: City 4, Stags 3.
Corners: City 5, Stags 0.
Fouls conceded: City 15, Stags 21.
Offsides: City 3, Stags 0.
Referee: Declan Ford (Lincoln) – made the kind of baffling decisions that have become the norm recently.
Attendance: 4,284 (498 away fans).
Miss of the match: Meredith should have at least hit the target with his first-half chance.
Shot of the match: Verma’s effort rocketed past Ingham.