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Fan's match report of York City's play-off final at Wembley
4:04pm Tuesday 18th May 2010 in York City v Oxford United - Wembley play-off final
YORK City’s dream of recapturing Football League status was cruelly washed away after a sobering and sodden 90 minutes at the home of English football.
The bitter taste of defeat at Wembley had already been experienced by much of the 9,000 travelling Minstermen, but last year’s FA Trophy loss at the hands of Stevenage only slightly detracted from the wonderment of the stadium and the occasion.
This time, however, we meant business. The result was paramount; the setting and the occasion were secondary.
Martin Foyle had spearheaded a remarkable resurgence throughout the season, instilling genuine optimism ahead of the clash with Oxford, whose ‘Yellow Army’ travelled in significant numbers.
Of course, the ludicrous 5pm kick-off time coupled with problems purchasing the expensive tickets online had deterred many City supporters.
On the other hand the 30,000 Oxford fans could enjoy a short Sunday afternoon drive to the home of English football to watch their side.
The mismatch of numbers only seemed to strengthen the underdog spirit among City fans; with a watertight defence, a workmanlike midfield and a striking partnership of sheer brute force and goalscoring magic there was a discernible confidence and belief among the City faithful.
However, a sudden downpour greeted the starting whistle and with it City’s confidence seemed to evaporate in an uncharacteristically shaky opening 20 minutes at the back.
Matt Green’s 15th minute half volley gave Oxford the lead, before the predatory James Constable clinically despatched with his first sniff of goal past the despairing Michael Ingham.
A calamitous mistake from the Oxford ‘keeper proved the catalyst for an improved second-half performance, and City had enough sights of goal to draw level and take a match of monumental importance the whole distance.
However, Alfie Potter’s finish to a ruthlessly sweeping counter-attack killed off City’s revival and with it City’s season.
It was a painful opening 20 minutes that ultimately consigned the Minstermen to at least another 44 games in the Blue Square Premier next season.
It deservedly possesses a reputation as an attritional and unforgiving division and York City had earned a glorious chance of escape.
Unfortunately, Oxford United themselves were resourced and engineered perfectly to grasp that opportunity, leaving York City fans to contemplate their team’s fate on the long journey northwards.
They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Martin Foyle is confident his side can return with renewed determination next season.
After all, he has masterminded a turnaround from relegation candidates to promotion candidates in just a year; perhaps in 12 months time he will have succeeded in masterminding that last, difficult step to the Football League.