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Blue Square Bet play-off final - York City 2 Luton 1
YORK City are back in the Football League.
The Minstermen came from behind to beat Luton Town 2-1 in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final at Wembley today.
It was City's second quick-fire trip to the national stadium following their FA Trophy triumph over Newport last Saturday, though this time the bigger prize of a place back in the League after an eight-year hiatus in the Conference was on offer.
This game was better, too, and much more tense as Luton pressed and pressed for a late equaliser. But Gary Mills' heroes held on, sending the City faithful into raptures.
The goal heroes were Ashley Chambers and Matty Blair - with a controversial winner - though the defence deserve just as many plaudits, not least Lanre Oyebanjo, who made two brave blocks on his own line.
The game couldn't have started worse for the Minstermen. After a neat interchange down Luton's left, the ball was cut back and Andre Gray, inside the left corner of the area, side-footed it with precision, the ball going in off the far post. It was a fine finish. Only 71 seconds had passed.
City had started slowly against Newport here last week, before getting into their stride with two second-half goals.
They were in the game quicker here, and were unlucky not be level by the quarter-hour mark.
Jon Challinor saw a goal-bound shot deflected over by ex-City man Alex Lawless. Then the Minstermen were denied a penalty when the ball bounced up off Jake Howells knee onto his outstretched arms.
Soon, Jason Walker out-jumped Janos Kovacs but saw his looping header tipped over by Mark Tyler. Walker's every touch was booed by the Luton fans – he had missed a penalty for the Hatters in last year's play-off final defeat, before departing Kenilworth Road.
At the other end, Gray had another site of goal but this time his effort was deflected wide.
However, City, after that shaky start, were on top and duly equalised with a cracker from Ashley Chambers.
Lanre's Oyebanjo's free-kick from the right saw Chris Smith do well to play it back across the box, and Chambers steamed in to blast it home from 12 yards, catching the ball sweetly on the rise.
There was bad news, though, as in winning the free-kick, Jon Challinor seemed to hurt an ankle. Gray soon teased the crocked full-back, with the ball falling to Adam Watkins inside the box, but the midfielder fluffed his moment.
Challinor soon departed, with Oyebanjo moving to right-back and Scott Brown coming into midfield.
The substitution seemed to unsettle York as Luton finishing the half with a flourish, but they went in at half-time deservedly level.
Nevertheless, City began the second half just as Luton had the first – with a rapid goal, albeit shrouded in controversy.
Oyebanjo's long throw was flicked on by Dan Parslow and Blair put it in. Blair had been at least a yard offside but the flag stayed down. The only possible reason was the linesman thought the ball had come off a defender, but York got lucky.
Meredith could have made it 3-1 but flicked his close-range header over the bar, while Chambers - like last week having a belter at Wembley - then beat a man before arcing a shot towards the left corner, only for Tyler to get down well.
Luton were well in it, though. Oyebanjo made a superb header at the far post to deny Hatters sub Craig McAllister, who was hurt in the process and had to depart.
From the corner, Gray twice miss-kicked right in front of goal and York managed to clear.
The pressure on the Minstermen was mounting, while further forward a crocked Chambers went off in the 78th minute, to be replaced by Jamie Reed.
Oyebanjo was again City's hero as he somehow blocked JP Kissock's close-range effort on the goal-line after Ingham had flapped at a cross. Kissock, like McAllister, was bloodied.
The Hatters continued to press but Ingham was not unduly troubled again and the final whistle signalled wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
Don't miss The Press tomorrow for City writer Dave Flett's match report, analysis and player ratings, plus pictures and all the reaction.
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