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Match report: York City 1, Mansfield Town 1
Under pressure from Ashley Chambers, Mansfield’s Exodus Geohaghon diverts the balll past Alan Marriott for City’s leveller
YORK City will rely on their excellent away form to take them into the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final after fighting out a 1-1 home draw with Mansfield Town last night.
The Stags will also be without suspended 30-goal striker Matt Green for Monday’s semi-final, second leg at Field Mill after he received his marching orders on 74 minutes for two bookable offences – both for fouls on fit-again City goalkeeper Michael Ingham.
Earlier, Mansfield had forged ahead midway through the first period courtesy of a Ross Dyer header but an Exodus Geohaghon own goal levelled the scores before the break.
Ingham returned between the sticks for the Minstermen after missing the last three games with ankle ligament damage, meaning goalkeeper coach Paul Musselwhite dropped to the bench.
City boss Gary Mills also restored James Meredith, Chris Smith, Jason Walker, Ashley Chambers, Matty Blair, and Paddy McLaughlin to his starting line-up after rotating the squad for Saturday’s final match of the regulation season at home to Forest Green.
The hosts started the game at break-neck speed with centre-back Chris Doig passing up a great opportunity to open the scoring in only the second minute.
Following McLaughlin’s half-cleared corner, Doig hooked the ball over Alan Marriott’s goal from seven yards.
Mansfield’s only real first-half threat came from Geohaghon long throws.
The former Kettering centre-back hurled the ball into City’s penalty box any time the ball went out of play in the home half and, on 12 minutes, Anthony Howell headed wide from one of his first missiles.
Howell also glanced over from ten yards from a Gary Roberts cross before City had the ball in the visitors’ net only to be denied by an offside flag after Blair had helped Smith’s goalbound attempt over the line.
At the other end, Luke O’Neill’s 30-yard free-kick sailed over Ingham’s bar before the Stags broke the deadlock on 26 minutes – inevitably from a Geohaghon throw.
Blair and Dyer both jumped up at the near post with the latter claiming the decisive touch as the ball flew into Ingham’s bottom right-hand corner.
A moment of ill-discipline by City skipper Smith then saw him escape with only a caution for hacking down Green off the ball and Roberts’ close-range header also called Ingham into action.
But City steadied themselves with a 15-yard Chambers drive that was parried to safety by Marriott before the equaliser arrived on 42 minutes.
Raiding down the right flank, Jon Challinor delivered a dangerous low cross into the six-yard box that Geohaghon intercepted but, in doing so, the 6ft 5in centre-back prodded the ball past a despairing Marriott.
City then had Mansfield on the back foot with Walker’s speculative 35-yard effort almost catching Marriott off his line.
Walker also dragged an excellent chance across the face of goal after bursting through the right channel to collect a Chambers header.
City ’keeper Ingham, though, needed to be alert to charge off his line and head clear as Green bore down on his goal with the latter receiving his first caution for catching the former Northern Ireland international.
Lindon Meikle also fired over with an angled 15-yard drive, which proved the last kick of an absorbing half.
On the restart, an edge-of-the-box half-volley by Blair failed to stretch Marriott on 49 minutes, while Green lifted a 15-yard attempt woefully over after Dyer had brushed past Jamal Fyfield too easily.
Howell then drove into Ingham’s chest from 12 yards and Fyfield was skating on thin ice when he dangled out a leg to trip Roberts, having had his name taken earlier.
Green was not as fortunate on 74 minutes when referee Richard Clark brandished his yellow card, promptly followed by the red, after the former Oxford striker made contact with Ingham again after chasing an Adam Murray through ball.
City skipper Smith headed over a great chance from Meredith’s cross and Challinor fired wide from 25 yards as the home side looked to make their numerical advantage count.
Blair also drove over from the edge of the box and Adriano Moké headed over from a cross by Challinor.
But Moké's low, long-distance effort, comfortably gathered by Marriott in the fifth minute of stoppage time, proved the final chance of the night.
City now travel to Field Mill having just finished their league programme with only three defeats on the road – a club record.
York City 1 (Geohagon 42), Mansfield Town 1 (Dyer 26)
York City:Michael Ingham 7, Jon Challinor 8, Chris Smith 7, Chris Doig 7, Jamal Fyfield 6, Daniel Parslow 7, James Meredith 7, Patrick McLaughlin 7, Matty Blair 7, Jason Walker 7, Ashley Chambers 7.
Subs:Adriano Moké (for McLaughlin 82).
Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.
Star man: Challinor – solid defensively and always a threat going forward.
Mansfield: Alan Marriott, Luke O’Neill, Martin Riley (Doug Andrew 18), Exodus Geohaghon, Ritchie Sutton, Adam Murray, Gary Roberts, Anthony Howell, Ross Dyer (Matt Rhead 90), Matt Green, Lindon Meikle (Louis Briscoe 79). Subs not used: Shane Redmond, Lee Stephenson.
Booked: Smith 31, Green 41, Fyfield 53, Andrew 55, Meredith 69, Roberts 71, Marriott 82.
Sent off: Green 74.
Referee: Richard Clark (Northumberland).
Attendance: 6,057 (1,352 away fans).