IT might have been played on artificial turf, but an opening day trip to Maidstone was always going to prove a genuine test of York City’s National League mettle.

Nobody would have ever admitted to it at Bootham Crescent, but there must have been a little discomfort when the opening day fixtures dictated that City would travel to a team buoyed by back-to-back promotions and desperate to claim the scalp of a newly-relegated Football League outfit in front of the live BT Sports cameras.

Throw an unfamiliar 4G playing surface into the equation, along with the fact that the visitors were fielding ten full debutants, then, barring a trip to the likes of bankrolled pair Forest Green and Eastleigh, it was difficult to imagine a potentially more troublesome welcome back to the non-League ranks.

But a 1-1 draw meant Jackie McNamara’s newly-assembled side just about passed this first examination of their character. The performance was by no means perfect and City rode their luck on the way to a share of the spoils following a sluggish first half and profligate finishing from their hosts.

But Clovis Kamdjo’s 69th-minute header cancelled out Bobby-Joe Taylor’s opener for the Stones, as the Minstermen avoided defeat with a resilience that sets the team up nicely for consecutive home fixtures against Macclesfield and Boreham Wood.

City will need to attack with more intent and a greater tempo in front of their own fans than they managed for long periods in Kent, although temperatures that were more Maldives than Maidstone might have played their part.

It was, nevertheless, still disappointing that Kamdjo’s 30-yard, third-minute effort, that comfortably cleared the crossbar, proved the visitors’ only goal attempt of the first period.

Equally as concerning was the number of throw-ins City conceded in areas that allowed Alex Flisher to propel ball after ball into a nervous penalty box.

Flisher, himself, might have opened the scoring when right-back Callum Driver’s low centre was allowed to travel across the face of Scott Flinders’ goal, but the home striker fired too high at the far post. The reprieve was shortlived, though, as Taylor cut in from the left flank on 22 minutes and, after exchanging passes with Flisher, fired across Flinders into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

Moments later, Flinders was troubled by a Flisher long throw and, after Ben Clappison had cleared Ben Greenhalgh’s header off the line, Kevin Lokko scuffed wide with the goal at his mercy.

Greenhalgh, who along with Flisher and Taylor, had started the game with infectious spirit also tested Flinders before the interval.

The second half was a more even affair with City skipper Simon Heslop dragging wide from the edge of the box after Tom Murphy had forced Flinders into another near-post save.

Flisher also drilled over after Greenhalgh had pulled the ball back from the left byline, while the latter miscued a 15-yard volley after Flinders had left the away net unguarded following his weak punch from James Rogers’ left-wing centre.

City were back on terms, though, when Shaun Rooney won a corner after raiding down the right and Aidan Connolly’s delivery was met emphatically by Kamdjo, whose header rifled into Lee Worgan’s top left-hand corner.

Scott Fenwick went close to adding a second shortly afterwards when he rose high, but diverted Yan Klukowski’s flag kick from the opposite flank wide.

A bouncing Heslop strike, meanwhile, was safely gathered by Worgan, while Greenhalgh’s rising drive was also a comfortable height for Flinders.

Alex Whittle went on to flash a low edge-of-the-box effort narrowly wide, but Flinders reacted smartly to save from Jack Paxman after the home sub had broken through the left channel.

The City keeper also pushed away a spectacular 30-yard, stoppage-time strike by Tom Mills to earn his club a first-ever league point in Maidstone following three previous defeats.


Scott Flinders: 6 – looked anxious when put under pressure but pulled off two fine late saves

Ben Clappison: 7 – could have distributed better but steady enough on the right side of a back three

Jack Higgins: 6 – strong aerially, but a little rash at times, resulting in second-half caution

Matt Fry: 7 – generally unflustered and defended sensibly when required

Shaun Rooney: 6 – won the corner for City’s goal but a little reticent to go forward

Simon Heslop: 7 – tried his best to switch play and grew in influence after the break

Clovis Kamdjo: 7 – game passed him by in first half, but noticeably boosted by goal

Yan Klukowski: 6 – quiet in important roving midfield role, but showed glimpses of quality

Alex Whittle: 6 – linked up well with Connolly at times but crossing might have been better

STAR MAN Aidan Connolly: 7 – busy throughout and never let his head drop when team were struggling

Scott Fenwick: 6 – found going tough in attack and might have done better with second-half header

Substitutes: Richard Brodie (for Fenwick, 84), Josh Robinson (for Rooney, 89), Kaine Felix (for Kulkowski, 90).

Subs not used: Luke Simpson, Matt Dixon.


Lee Worgan, Callum Driver, Kevin Lokko, Anthony Acheampong, Tom Mills, Tom Murphy (Vas Karagiannis, 70), James Rogers, Dan Sweeney (Jack Paxman, 74), Bobby-Joe Taylor, Ben Greenhalgh, Alex Flisher (Dumebi Dumaka, 75). Subs not used: Jamie Coyle, Jack Evans.

Maidstone star man: Flisher – threatened with long throws and energetic running

Referee: David Rock rating: 8/10 – hard to contest many decisions

Booked: Flisher 36, Higgins 56, Dumaka 79.

Attendance: 2,495

Shots on target: Maidstone 7, City 2

Shots off target: Maidstone 6, City 4

Corners: Maidstone 7, City 8

Fouls conceded: Maidstone 12, City 8

Offsides: Maidstone 1, City 1