CARETAKER-BOSS Neil Thompson killed striker Neil Tolson's move to Rushden and Diamonds after Sheffield Wednesday's shock £1.5million swoop for top scorer Richard Cresswell.

Just as City had no option but to accept the big-money bid for Cresswell, Thompson maintained he had no choice but to halt the £20,000 deal that was primed to take Tolson to Conference League pace-setters Rushden.

Both the City boss and his Rushden counterpart Brian Talbot had agreed terms as had transfer-listed Tolson, who is due to quit the Minstermen in the summer under the Bosman ruling.

But with strenuous efforts to bring in another marksman failing on a day of frenzied comings and goings, Thompson informed Talbot the Tolson deal was off.

Besides Cresswell's move City added Wrexham winger Craig Skinner to the Bootham Crescent payroll in a £30,000 deal and central defender Matthew Hocking on loan from Hull City.

However, listed midfielder Steve Agnew rejected a loan move to Third Division neighbours Scarborough to the end of the season.

From now to then Tolson is back with City - and together with Marc Williams and Rodney Rowe - is charged with filling the goals vacuum left by 19-goal Cresswell's departure for the Premiership.

Declared Thompson: "I need Tolly here. I was trying desperately all day to get in a new striker. But clubs just don't want to let strikers go. I rang Brian Talbot and said I couldn't do it. If I could have got somebody else in then the Tolly deal would have been on.

"But York City are fighting for their lives and we need all the bodies we can get. I can't be left with just two strikers in the club."

Of Wednesday's bid for Cresswell the City boss said it had come out of the blue and that the club had to accept even if it did deprive them of their top scorer, who had vibrantly led the attack all season.

Explained Thompson: "It's a massive blow because Cressie has done absolutely brilliant for us.

"He is in his first full season and is still only 21. He has got through to the England Under-21 squad and he deserves all his success.

He is going to a good club and a good manager, whom I know from my Barnsley days.

"But it's a lot of money for a club like City and it's a terrific amount of money for a lad who has cost us nothing. A million pounds is a million pounds and we could not turn it down."

The initial payment from Wednesday is £950,000 down - the biggest ever raked in by City - increasing to £1.5million based on appearances. City also have a sell-on clause entitling them to 20 percent of any future deal exceeding £1.5m.

Thompson said the important task now was to harness the rest of City's troops for the battle to retain their Second Division status.

And he was glad to welcome 28-year-old Skinner to the club. A right-sided midfielder, who can also play in central midfield or up front, Skinner joined Wrexham two seasons ago in a £50,000 deal from Plymouth. He originally played for Blackburn Rovers before moving to Argyle in 1993.

Said Thompson: "He's experienced and is sharp with good feet. It's all hands to the pump now and we need experience."

The City manager confirmed that Agnew, his most senior midfielder, spurned an approach from North Yorkshire rivals Scarborough to go to the McCain Stadium on loan until the end of the season.

A high-profile Boro delegation of manager Colin Addison, his assistant Ray McHale, and chairman John Russell, held talks with City at the midweek reserves battle with Lincoln. But the proposed deal for Agnew, who last month asked for a transfer still with two seasons still to go on his contract, collapsed.

Another exit from City was sealed. Reserves' winger Rory Prendergast was freed after first joining City last summer. He is expected to link up on non-contract terms with Second Division rivals Oldham.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.