YORK City players have been banned from drinking alcohol and this contest against Boston was no tea party either.

Tempers boiled over at the end of a scruffy 1-0 home win with red cards shown to City midfielder Simon Heslop and Boston pair Andi Thanoj and Ben Middleton.

Trouble had, indeed, been brewing before the three dismissals, with home players reacting angrily to a late first-half challenge by Jake Beesley on keeper Adam Bartlett, while Louis Almond also squared up to an aggressor after the break.

But, aside from those flashpoints, the game was soporific for long periods and the fact that it was ultimately decided by a Middleton own goal spoke volumes about the general quality on a poor Bootham Crescent playing surface.

City’s attacking play lacked any form of fluency during the opening 45 minutes, which was puzzling given that the one perceived positive of 37-year-old top-scorer Jon Parkin’s absence due to suspension was the potential for greater mobility in the final third.

The only attempt on the away goal before the break, though, came when Hamza Bencherif’s hoofed clearance from close to the halfway line drifted over Jon Stewart’s crossbar.

The visitors, meanwhile, were only marginally more threatening during the first period.

Brad Abbott’s 15-yard drive was deflected wide on three minutes although referee John Matthews, in keeping with the game’s general sloppiness, subsequently awarded a goal kick.

Otherwise, former City youth-team defender Ryan Qualter’s header bounced harmlessly wide from a Stephen Brogan free kick.

Another header, even less threatening from Beesley, might have gone on to give Boston the lead on the stroke of half-time, but Bartlett stooped to gather a ball, that failed to bounce in his muddy goalmouth, before it could creep over the line. After the break, Almond began to display greater urgency and searched out areas where it was easier for him to receive the ball.

The former Tranmere attacker was soon picked out by Heslop’s right-wing cross, but his five-yard effort was deflected wide.

On 52 minutes, Adriano Moke’s diagonal 15-yard drive called Stewart into action for the first time and, after Thanoj’s firm 20-yard drive was well held by Bartlett, Almond forced the Pilgrims keeper into a second parry after cutting in from the left flank.

Attacking the away end, another Thanoj shot finished high and wide, while a ricocheted effort from sub Benny Igiehon struck Bartlett, who was then equal to an Ashley Hemmings attempt moments later.

Stewart was picking the ball out of his net, though, on 73 minutes, shortly after he had prevented an inswinging Alex Pattison corner from dropping under his bar.

The on-loan Middlesbrough teenager went on to feed overlapping left-wing back David Ferguson and the latter’s low cross was turned in by Middleton at the near post.

On 88 minutes, Heslop then threw himself into a challenge on Thanoj, sparking an angry melee that, after a long-drawn out discussions over identification, led to the former’s inevitable dismissal, having earlier been cautioned for tangling with Boston striker Jack Dyche just inside the away half to snuff out a counter attack.

Thanoj followed Heslop off the pitch after being shown a straight red for retaliation and the hapless Middleton was given his marching orders in the second minute of stoppage time when he dived into a tackle on City sub Raul Correia close to the corner flag. The home side subsequently saw out the match against nine men, before there were more unsavoury scenes at the final whistle as members from both benches jostled with one another and Bartlett appeared to upset the away fans.

City ratings

Adam Bartlett 7

Dan Parslow 7

Hamza Bencherif 7

Sean Newton 6

Alex Pattison 6

Simon Heslop 6

Adriano Moke 6

Aidan Connolly 6

David Ferguson 6

Louis Almond 6

Alex Kemspter 6

Substitutes: Connor Smith 6 (for Moke, 64), Raul Correia 6 (for Kempster, 66), Jonny Burn (for Almond, 86).

Subs not used: Luke Simpson, Connor Brown.

Star man: Parslow - defended with his heart and his head in a disciplined display

Boston: Jon Stewart, Ben Middleton, Jordan Keane, Ryan Qualter, Stephen Brogan, Jay Rollins, Andi Thanoj, Brad Abbott, Ashley Hemmings, Jake Beesley, Jack Dyche. Subs not used: Kabongo Tshimanga, George Willis, Wes Atkinson, Jonathan Wafula, Benny Igiehon.

Boston star man: Qualter – uncompromising against his home-town club

Referee: John Matthews rating: 5/10 – needed to pay closer attention

Booked: Abbott 14, Heslop 40, Tshimanga 85

Sent off: Heslop 88, Thanoj 89, Middleton 90+2

Attendance: 2,461 (246 from Boston)

Shots on target: City 3, Boston 4

Shots off target: City 2, Boston 4

Corners: City 14, Boston 8

Fouls conceded: City 5, Boston 17

Offside: City 1, Boston 3