YORK City returned to winning ways in the Vanarama National League North after prevailing as 3-1 winners over Southport at the LNER Community Stadium.

Having seen City beaten by then-bottom-of-the-division Hereford in their last league game, York knew that another battle with a team rooted to the foot of the table would be far from easy.

And so it proved despite a scoreline which may suggest otherwise. Olly Dyson’s late tap-in added some gloss to the scoreline but York had to battle hard to gain that lead.

Matty Brown had put them in front before a Josh Hmami penalty quickly levelled matters and it was not until Dyson’s late finish, after Akil Wright’s decisive header, that City fans could genuinely celebrate.

City had shown signs of recovery from the disappointment of Hereford in last week’s FA Cup win over Whitby Town and again Steve Watson stuck with the 4-4-2 formation that served his side well last time out.

The manager did though opt for a different front two, with Kurt Willoughby returning to the start to partner the in-form Clayton Donaldson, with Mark Beck alongside Jason Gilchrist, who dropped to the bench.

And it was then returning Willoughby who had York’s first chance on goal after just five minutes. The striker cut inside from the right before curling a left-footed shot at goalkeeper Cameron Mason who held the ball strongly.

That chance was City’s best of a rapid start, which was best encapsulated by the sheer number of corners they won - 11 in total in the first half.

Southport slowly began to work their way back into the game and they took advantage of some wobbly defending in York’s defence, which remains makeshift without Scott Barrow, Sean Newton and Josh King.

Matty Brown just about got away with a dangerous-appearing slide tackle but York could not clear the danger and Jordan Archer forced Peter Jameson into his first save, a point-blank catch.

In a frantic five-minute spell, centre back Adam Anson somehow dribbled his way into the York box and past several defenders before going down, though the referee waved away his penalty appeals that had hearts in mouths of the home fans.

City remained a threat from wide areas and were continuing to win corners at a rapid rate and they finally profited from one of them, after Akil Wright’s glancing header found the sideline rather the back of the net as had appeared likely at one point.

Olly Dyson picked the ball up from the short corner and he appeared to have lost possession but the ball still rattled around the ball and Brown was on hand to swing the ball into the bottom corner.

Only seconds later though, Brown went from hero to villain after being adjudged to have pulled down Anson in the box, even if the defender’s fall did seem rather dramatic.

Josh Hmami converted from 12 yards out and just like that, York’s hard-fought lead was wiped out.

While disappointed with the soft nature of the penalty, equally York could be frustrated by their own inability to read the second ball from the corner.

York were unable to mount much of a response before the break. Heaney meekly shot into the wall from a free-kick before blasting the second attempt over the bar.

Heaney also hit over the top from open play shortly after before McLaughlin’s daisy cutter whistled wide.

On the stroke of half time, as so often in his York career, from the cold, Jameson provided a top stop to deny Jack Doyle’s far post header and ensure the scores remained level at the break.

Like in the first period, City started rapidly after the restart. Woods and Donaldson twice combined quickly, with the midfielder conjuring a teasing low cross that just fell behind the supporting cast.

The Minstermen remained firmly on top, with Willoughby’s effort heroically blocked a few yards, Hopper steering a shot close and Woods’ strike deflected out of danger.

All the while, City probed from corners - they would finish the game with 15 - and again these paid dividends.

On the hour mark, just when it appeared City had lost some momentum, Dyson swung the ball in from the left and Wright jumped high and nodded in at the back post.

From this point, York did not ease up in their intent, mores Southport fought their way back into the contest.

The danger signs were there over a second leveller. Jack Bainbridge had the best of a string of the Yellows’ opportunities - his rising shot too high from a delightful cut-back pass.

Wright and Brown were called into last-ditch defending on multiple occasions against Southport’s dangerous long throws and the decision to bring on striker Mark Beck seemed partly motivated by his aerial ability in his own box as much as the opposition’s.

A telling final 10 minutes awaited as the game opened up, as Southport nearly turned in a goalmouth scramble before City broke upfield and saw Dyson’s cross fall agonisingly wide of Heaney’s boot.

Dyson again had a chance on the break, this time electing to shoot, ultimately weakly, rather than utilise his number of team-mates in support.

But the right midfielder finally got his name on the scoresheet with four minutes to go.

Donaldson, otherwise a periphery figure, showed his class to keep alive a loose ball in the box by turning a defender, getting to byline and crossing, where Dyson was on hand to tap in.

The relief was palpable and the cushion allowed Watson to hand a professional and York debut to youngster Jonny Haase from the bench.

The teenager would be clattered by a Southport defender in among his early bright touches and the final action of an encapsulating 90 minutes.


York: Jameson 7, Duckworth 6, Wright 7, Brown (C) 6, McLaughlin 6, Dyson 8, Woods 8, Hopper 7, Heaney 7 (Haase 90’), Donaldson 6, Willoughby 6 (Beck 65’ 6). Subs not used: Campbell, Fielding, Gilchrist.

Goals: Brown (30), Wright (59), Dyson (86)

Star man: Michael Woods. Controlled the game well in midfield alongside Hopper and got forward to good effect.

Southport: Mason, Thame, C. Doyle, Anson (C), Oliver, J. Doyle, Bainbridge, Hmami (Buckley-Ricketts 64’), Vassallo, Archer (Watson 64’), Carver (Woods 80’). Subs not used: McMillan, Munro.

Goals: Hmami (32)

Yellow cards: Tharme (90’)

Referee: Darren Rogers.

Attendance: 3,199 (145)


Shots (on target): 18 (7) / 10 (3)

Corners: 15 / 8

Offsides: 0 / 0

Fouls committed: 7 / 11