THE John Askey era began in bitterly disappointing defeat as York City limply fell to a 2-1 home loss to Kettering Town.

Two poor pieces of defending allowed Kettering to take an ultimately unassailable 2-0 lead after just 25 minutes.

That both goals came from York failing to deal with balls into the box from the notoriously direct Kettering will have been especially infuriating for the new interim manager.

City did hit back shortly after, through a Sean Newton penalty, but created little else in attack after that, aside from Clayton Donaldson hitting the post in the second half.

It was the harshest of reminders to Askey of the challenge facing him at City as this side fell to yet another home defeat, again featuring some inadequate defending and a misfiring strike-force.

Injuries have, with some justification, been pointed towards as the reason to York’s failings this season, but there was positive news on that front coming into the game.

Mackenzie Heaney was back in the team, joining the front three, with Kurt Willoughby and Donaldson, while Mark Beck dropped to the bench.

Left-back Scott Barrow was also back in the match day squad for the first time this season amid a long-term Achilles injury.

He was joined on the bench by Kieran Wallace, who arrived on loan from Burton Albion earlier this week.

But any positivity fans may have had from the team news quickly dissipated as Kettering started fast and took the lead after just six minutes.

From the first few seconds, they set out their stall and lived up to the pre-match billing of a direct side.

Whenever they were handed a set-piece or throw-in within striking range, they went long. While it may not be easy on the eye, it is hard to criticise the tactic as ineffective as one such move put them in front.

A long throw from the right flank arrived and - as would become a theme of the half - York simply did not clear the ball well enough.

That allowed captain Connor Kennedy to work some room on the edge of the box, turn and steer a left-footed shot past Peter Jameson into the bottom left corner.

It took almost 20 minutes for York register their first shot on target - a Newton header being easily caught by Rhys Davies.

Until that point, passes had gone astray, players’ touches were loose and fouls were being committed softly too.

On 25 minutes, it seemed like City had began to find some sort of rhythm. Heaney’s set-piece to Newton worked well, but for the finish, and Willoughby was almost in on a counter. Davies was then forced into a good save from the same striker.

From the latter of those opportunities though came the hammer blow.

Kettering broke rapidly on York down the right, delivered a cross which should have been routine for Adam Senior to clear but the youngster could only hack it to a Kettering man 20 yards out.

Like Kennedy, Gerry McDonagh was afforded the room to turn and rifle into the bottom corner, springing merited loud boos around the ground.

Just seconds later though, York had a lifeline. A sight not seen often enough this season, Willoughby cutting inside and shooting on his right foot, was met by a Kettering handball in the box.

Up stepped Newton to convert from 12 yards - a bullet strike into the right bottom corner.

Even with that goal, there was little wind in the City sails thereafter. Time and time again, York bypassed midfield and went far too direct. Without Beck, it was a tactic which did not pay off. When City did go short, their passing was found wanting.

Before half-time, they managed a couple of half-chances, Newton’s free-kick hit the wall while Brown headed over the bar.

The interval provided a chance for City to restart after an underwhelming first 45 minutes.

Four minutes into the half, Akil Wright was given a free header in the box but it was watched wide by the keeper.

The pattern of City - and in fairness both sides - struggling to create chances and being wasteful on the ball soon resurfaced.

In fact, the biggest cheers of the game came when Kettering’s management staff received yellow cards for their touchline antics.

On 64 minutes, Wright did again go close for the Minstermen. A fantastic run from deep by City’s sole player of any note was met by a through ball from Donaldson but the midfielder’s shot was stopped by Davies’ legs.

With a quarter of an hour to go, York had their best chance of the game and squandered it.

Donaldson did brilliantly to turn past a defender on halfway before beating another and cutting inside onto his right foot in the box.

That left him one-on-one with the goalkeeper but his shot was saved onto the post.

If defeat was not already confirmed by this point, the sight of City’s top-scorer not burying such a glorious chance surely did seal the final result.

Perhaps most worryingly was that, in the final dozen minutes, Kettering looked more like scoring than City did.

They headed wide amid a crowd of bodies from a corner and then Callum Powell broke clear on the counter and struck the post with his shot.

He managed to get the ball back on the follow-up and then had an effort deflect agonisingly wide.

Before the final whistle, audible groans were heard when Willoughby was announced as man of the match, though in fairness an obvious alternative was lacking.

Askey now has the task of finding some new or existing candidates.


York: Jameson 5, Senior 3, Brown 3, Newton (C) 4, Hancox 3, Hopper 4 (Beck 65’ 4), Wright 5, McLaughlin 4, Heaney 4, Willoughby 4 (Gilchrist 86’ 3), Donaldson 5.

Subs not used: Campbell, Barrow, Wallace, Gilchrist, Beck.

Goals: Newton (28, pen)

York's star man: Akil Wright. The best of a bad bunch given he showed some determination in midfield.


Kettering: Davies, Barrett, Sharpe, O’Neill, Johnson, C. Smith, Powell, Kennedy, McDonagh, L. Sherif, Neal.

Subs not used: Crawford, Stohrer, Ward, Ofosu, Perry.

Goals: Kennedy (6), McDonagh (25)

Yellow cards: Kennedy, Powell


Shots (on target): 8 (5) | 9 (2)

Corners: 4 | 4

Offsides: 1 | 0

Fouls committed: 6 | 9