CHURCH Road provided a fitting setting for York City supporters to worship another divine display by goalkeeper Michael Ingham.

Following on from his midweek heroics in the 0-0 draw against Altrincham, Ingham was his side’s saviour again in a somewhat fortunate 2-1 win at the home of Hayes and Yeading United.

Three fine saves within the first 15 minutes prevented the Minstermen from falling behind during an indifferent start to Saturday’s Blue Square Bet Premier clash.

After Jonathan Smith had given the visitors the lead midway through the first half, Ingham then went on to deny home defender Adam Bygrave in spectacular fashion just past the hour mark.

And, even though he was eventually beaten by a howitzer of an equaliser from one-time City loanee Peter Holmes, the former Northern Ireland stopper’s performance ultimately proved the difference between Michael Rankine’s deflected headed 80th-minute goal being a match-winning effort rather than a simple consolation.

During the last three seasons at Bootham Crescent, Ingham’s opportunities to assume a starring role have been limited due to the dependable defensive displays in front of him.

While proving his prowess in all the less eyecatching, but equally important, responsibilities between the sticks, he has rarely been called upon to make more than two highly notable saves a match.

But, during City’s last two encounters, Ingham’s reflexes have been the key factor in his team avoiding back-to-back defeats.

It is a contribution that will be worth remembering should City be celebrating come the reckoning for play-off places on April 30 as, in that theoretical scenario, it is highly unlikely that Gary Mills’ men will still be in a top-five spot without the four points collected from their trips to Altrincham and Hayes.

Just as at Moss Lane four days earlier, the Minstermen were not at their fluent best against an eager Hayes team but rode their luck to score two deflected goals, survive strong shouts for a second-half penalty and rely heavily on their inspirational ’keeper.

Aside from Ingham, though, there were also determined individual displays by the two Smiths – Chris and Jonathan – with the latter scoring one goal and claiming an assist for the other.

Scott Kerr, too, was a willing worker in his anchorman role but, further up the field, with Peter Till sidelined by illness, the visitors threatened very little in open play prior to Rankine’s second-half introduction as a substitute and Hayes managed three times as many shots on goal as City mustered.

Leon Constantine – Rankine’s replacement in the starting XI – did force the first save of the match with a weakly-struck free-kick in the second minute.

But attentions soon switched to the other end of the pitch.

The much-travelled Jefferson Louis scuffed a good chance wide moments later and Ingham made an instinctive low save after Lee Brown had raided down the left to set up a ten-yard chance for Bradley Pritchard.

On five minutes, the City ’keeper raced off his line to smother at Louis’ feet after the Hayes forward had poked the ball between Daniel Parslow’s legs.

Then, after punching a wind-assisted Holmes effort away from under his own crossbar, Ingham was also quick to react to Jamie Hand’s 15-yard follow-up effort.

Under the cosh, City responded with a hopeful long-range Will Hatfield attempt that sailed over home ’keeper Delroy Preddie’s crossbar but, shortly afterwards, the visitors forged ahead on 23 minutes.

Smith powered into the six-yard box to meet Ashley Chambers’ corner from the left and his challenge on Bygrave resulted in the ball bouncing off both players before nestling into Preddie’s bottom left-hand corner.

Hayes, though, continued to carry the greater attacking nous going into the interval with Louis curling a 25-yard shot just past Ingham’s top left-hand corner.

Five minutes after the restart, Kerr lived dangerously when his tackle from behind on Pritchard in the 18-yard box prompted the home fans to scream for a penalty.

Chris Smith then saw a tame header easily saved by Preddie before returning to his defensive duties to snuff out another opportunity for Louis, who went on to fire straight at Ingham when presented with a clear sight of goal by Holmes’ intelligent pass.

Moments later, Ingham was at full stretch to tip Bygrave’s header on to his crossbar following a corner by Holmes, who was not to be denied on 75 minutes.

The ex-Rotherham and Luton midfielder ended a jinking run by drilling a left-footed shot into Ingham’s top left-hand corner from 25 yards.

It had taken something special to beat the City ’keeper and, having levelled the scores, many might have fancied Hayes to have gone on and won the game.

The visitors displayed resilience, however, to grind out a win.

Chambers should have done better on 77 minutes than slicing into the home end after being presented with a clear opening following forceful play by Rankine, whose most significant moment of the match was soon to follow.

After the energetic Jonathan Smith burst through the right channel and crossed into the box, Rankine’s downward header seemed to carry little threat but a vicious deflection off Nathan Webb saw the ball spin into a helpless Preddie’s bottom left-hand corner.

If the old adage that good teams win even when they don’t play well can be applied to City, Hayes supporters must now fear that the opposite could be levelled at their team.

The Middlesex outfit will struggle, however, to play as well again and reap no reward for their efforts as they continue their battle against relegation during the last two months of the season.

Match facts

Hayes & Yeading 1 (Holmes 75), York City 2 (J Smith 23; Rankine 80)

York City: Michael Ingham 9, Liam Darville 6, Daniel Parslow 7, Chris Smith 8, James Meredith 6, Scott Kerr 7, Jonathan Smith 8, Will Hatfield 6, Ashley Chambers 6, Leon Constantine 6, Jamie Reed 6.

Subs: Michael Rankine 7 (for Reed, 66), Chris Carruthers (for Chambers, 83), Andre Boucaud (for Hatfield, 87).

Not used: Barrett, McDermott.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.

City’s star man: Ingham – oozing with confidence and a real asset to the club on this form.

Hayes & Yeading: Delroy Preddie, Nathan Webb (Phil Appiah, 86), Tom Cadmore, Adam Bygrave, Charlie Wassmer, Lee Brown, Jamie Hand, Bradley Pritchard, Peter Holmes, Jefferson Louis (Ben Wright, 72), Elliott Buchanan (Andy Yiadom, 61).

Subs not used: Lee Harrison, Lewis Ferrell.

Booked: Cadmore 32, Bygrave 61, J Smith 70, Hand 90.

Shots on target: Hayes 10, City 4.

Shots off target: Hayes 8, City 2.

Corners: Hayes 12, City 9.

Fouls conceded: Hayes 18, City 8.

Offsides: Hayes 0, City 3.

Referee: Matt Stewart (Harwich).

Rating: generally assertive and sensible in his decisions.

Attendance: 458.

Save of the match: Spoilt for choice thanks to Ingham but probably his acrobatic second-half stop from Bygrave.

Shot of the match: Holmes’ goal was a worthy equaliser.

Head to head - Will Hatfield v Peter Holmes

After firing over City’s first off-target effort of the match, Hatfield was a fairly peripheral presence in the visitors’ midfield.

He struggled to force back Holmes, making few of the effective forward runs that are a trademark of his game.

A probing Holmes, however, began to exert more of an influence on proceedings as the game went on, culminating in his spectacular equaliser.