A KNACK of nabbing late goals is a quality no discerning manager will turn down from his team.

The ability to almost will the ball into the net at crucial times as matches are coming to an end can often mean the difference between a season of success or failure.

York City boss Gary Mills won’t mind one bit if Jamal Fyfield and his colleagues can repeat the trick again and again – after his late winner brought a 2-1 victory against League One Hartlepool United at Bootham Crescent.

On as a second-half substitute, Fyfield smashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range in stoppage time after James Meredith had neatly knocked down Patrick McLaughlin’s far post corner.

Pools boss Mick Wadsworth, the former Scarborough manager, might have thought his team would escape with a draw after Adam Boyd capitalised on poor defending from a set-piece to cancel out Ashley Chambers’ stunning free-kick, which had opened the scoring midway through the second half.

But it felt like there was a certain inevitability about the Minstermen’s winner and it would have been harsh on Mills’ men had they not prevailed.

Even in the first period, when City knocked the ball around sweetly but failed to penetrate the final third, they looked comfortable against opponents two leagues higher in the ladder.

The late goal came as York pushed forward, refusing to settle for honours even.

That drama followed an opening period which looked firmly set in the pre-season mould.

Indeed neither side had a shot on target but it was the home team playing the better football – neat and crisp interplay, spearheaded by Jason Walker up front, but without any reward.

Hartlepool weren’t so much misfiring as stuck in low gear but Ashley Chambers was inventive and, on the other side of Mills’ forward three, Matty Blair got increasingly involved as the half wore on.

Scott Flinders’ botched clearance fell to the former Kidderminster man on the half hour and, although the crowd urged him to shoot, he took a couple of touches and slipped a pass through to the waiting Walker.

Unfortunately, he had strayed offside.

Blair then cut inside from the right to play in McLaughlin but the ex-Newcastle player, also increasingly influential, was caught on his heels allowing the visitors to get in a tackle.

What little there was of attacking intent was not entirely one way. Colin Nish was Hartlepool’s first half danger man and he put a header wide across Michael Ingham’s goal from Colin Larkin’s cross.

But McLaughlin bookended the two halves – seeing a shot deflected over the bar in the first before being the first player of either side to hit the target when forcing Flinders to hold on after Meredith had pulled the ball back from the by-line.

Hartlepool brought on former Newcastle and Aston Villa midfielder Nolberto Solano at half-time and it was his clumsy challenge on Walker, 20 yards out, which brought the first goal on 68 minutes.

Square with the left edge of the box, Chambers stepped up and smacked a powerful, curling drive into the top right corner. Flinders never moved.

But while that was brilliant, the play leading up to Hartlepool’s equaliser, with eight minutes left, was not.

Meredith skewed a clearance out for a throw in and City’s defenders allowed the set-piece to bounce in the six-yard box. Boyd hooked the ball past a helpless Ingham into the net.

York’s goalkeeper then made a smart save, getting his body in the way at his near post from James Brown shot, before City put together the move which won the match.

Adriano Moké won the set-piece, forcing Flinders into a full-stretch save with a solid drive after a surging run forward.

And, from the corner, Fyfield was on hand to emphatically finish and hand Mills the pre-season scalp he had been looking for.

York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Smith, Parslow (Fyfield, 56), Meredith, Kerr, Boucaud (Moké, 59), McLaughlin, Blair (Reed, 50), Walker, Chambers.

Subs not used: Musselwhite, Henderson, Potts.

Hartlepool: Scott Flinders, Neil Austin, Sam Collins (Jack Baldwin, 83), Peter Hartley, Ritchie Humphreys (Evan Horwood, 46), Nathan Luscombe (Gary Liddle, 46), Antony Sweeney, Paul Murray (Nolberto Solano, 46), James Poole (James Brown, 46), Colin Nish (Adam Boyd, 65), Colin Larkin (Andy Monkhouse, 46).

Subs not used: Steve Haslam, Andy Rafferty.

Referee: Ross Joyce (Middlesbrough).

Attendance: 1,241 (289 away supporters).