NOBODY dared ask long-time L’Oreal model David Ginola whether his unlikely trip to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday afternoon had been ‘worth it’.

But, whilst ostensibly at the New Lawn as a guest of home chairman Dale Vince, Ginola could no doubt empathise with the fate of York City at the end of this Blue Square Bet Premier match.

Few people in football have suffered the repercussions of conceding a late goal more acutely than the former Newcastle and Tottenham ace.

One overhit cross saw Ginola scapegoated by then France manager Gerard Houlier after Bulgaria secured a 90th-minute 2-1 win to qualify for the 1994 World Cup at Les Bleus’ expense.

His international career never recovered and Ginola was forced to watch on from the outside as the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup in 1998 and then went on to win the European Championships.

More than 18 years on, Houlier is still bleating on about the incident and the rift will not be healed by Ginola’s intention to sue over further disparaging remarks in the ex-Liverpool manager’s autobiography.

In contrast, City boss Gary Mills tempered his inevitable frustration at seeing his side concede an awful, 94th-minute equaliser to drop two points at their Gloucestershire hosts, steadfastly refusing to apportion blame.

But, coming one match after key players Jason Walker and Andre Boucaud were sent off deep into stoppage-time at Barrow, depriving the team of their services in this fixture and the next two, Mills will be keen to eradicate such late lapses and, no doubt, be drumming home the importance to his team of completing a job professionally.

Missing their best two footballers in Walker and Boucaud, City were unusually matched, if not bettered, by their enthusiastic and confident hosts in the art of retaining possession.

Nevertheless, the Minstermen gave themselves a great chance of snaring maximum points after forging ahead on 83 minutes when substitutes Danny Pilkington and Jamie Reed combined to win a penalty that the latter converted in front of the jubilant away supporters.

The joy was shortlived, however, courtesy of the sloppiest of endings.

First, captain Chris Smith allowed home striker Matt Taylor to retrieve a long, hopeful ball down City’s right channel before it bounced out of play.

Goalkeeper Michael Ingham then failed to grab Taylor’s low cross, only succeeding in pushing the ball forward, where James Norwood pounced ahead of James Meredith to find the inviting net from six yards.

A matter of seconds later, referee John Hopkins blew the final whistle and although, on the reflection of play a 1-1 draw was probably a fair outcome, that provided no consolation for City’s players or supporters.

The visitors had early shaded the first half with Jon Challinor’s surging runs adding a different dimension to City’s midfield after the decision to restore the Forest Green old boy into his more recognised position and recall Lanre Oyebanjo at right-back.

Looking slick on the counter attack, the Minstermen threatened in the final third without troubling on-loan 18-year-old Watford ’keeper Jonathan Bond on too many occasions.

But the second half was a different story with Rovers pegging Mills’ men back for long periods prior to the introductions of Reed and Pilkington.

Earlier, Challinor had called Bond into serious action for the first time on 16 minutes when his 25-yard drive was parried and then gathered at the second attempt with Matty Blair following up.

Ashley Chambers also scuffed an eight-yard effort against Bond’s right-hand post following good work by Blair and Paddy McLaughlin, while Scott Kerr hoisted a long-range opportunity on to the roof of the stand on 26 minutes.

At the other end, Yan Klukoswki fired against Ingham’s right-hand upright with a smart shot on the turn before City debutant Moses Ashikodi cleared the home bar with an improvised overhead kick after Smith’s right-wing cross had bounced in the home side’s six-yard box.

Dave Hockaday’s men started the second period liveliest, though, with James Rowe’s edge-of-the-box strike saved low to his right by Ingham 16 seconds into the restart.

Midfielder Kieron Forbes, working well in tandem with former Premier League performer Al Bangura as Challinor’s influence on the game began to wane, also sidefooted wide from 15 yards and Klukowski missed the target with his head after being picked out by Norwood in the penalty box.

City had not managed a single second-half goal attempt until the 82nd minute when Pilkington released fellow replacement Reed, who was clumsily dragged to the floor by Jamie Turley as he prepared to shoot eight yards from goal.

Essex official Hopkins initially appeared to wave play on as the ball fell to Pilkington but, after the former Stockport winger found the net, he decided to point to the spot anyway while Turley escaped with no further punishment despite seemingly denying Reed a scoring opportunity.

Reed spared some of Hopkins’ embarassment when he drove with confidence high to Bond’s left.

Moments later, a Chambers shot sailed into the away end but with, the seconds counting down, three points painfully became one.

Mills was keen to stress the positives afterwards and his team are now unbeaten in nine league games since the 3-2 defeat against Gateshead at the end of September.

Forest Green had also won their last four Blue Square Bet Premier fixtures but the Minstermen cannot afford too many more injury-time errors if they are to fulfil their manager’s title aspirations.

Match facts

Forest Green 1 (Norwood 90 + 4), York City 1 (Reed pen 83)

York City: Michael Ingham 6, Lanre Oyebanjo 6, Chris Smith 6, Jamal Fyfield 7, James Meredith 6, Jon Challinor 7, Scott Kerr 8, Paddy McLaughlin 6, Matty Blair 7, Moses Ashikodi 6, Ashley Chambers 6.

Subs: Jamie Reed (for Ashikodi, 73), Danny Pilkington (McLaughlin, 79), Daniel Parslow (for Challinor, 89).

Subs not used: David McGurk, Adriano Moke.

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: Kerr – constantly prompting from midfield during another assured display.

Forest Green: Jonathan Bond, Jared Hodgkiss, Jamie Turley, Eddie Oshodi, Chris Stokes, James Rowe (Michael Uwezu, 85), Al Bangura, Kieron Forbes, Yan Klukowski, Matt Taylor, Charlie Griffin (James Norwood, 46). Subs not used: James Bittner, Luke Graham, Jake Thomson.

Booked: Oshodi 88, Blair 90.

Shots on target: Forest 3, City 4.

Shots off target: Forest 4, City 5.

Corners: Forest 4, City 4.

Offsides: Forest 0, City 1.

Fouls conceded: Forest 13, City 15.

Referee: John Hopkins (Essex). Rating: made a bit of a mess of the penalty incident but fairly competent otherwise.

Attendance: 1,157 (236 from City).

Mistake of the match: A toss-up between Smith and Ingham for Forest Green’s agonising late equaliser.

Head to head - Moses Ashikodi v Eddie Oshodi

It would be wrong to judge Ashikodi on his first game for City with all new players requiring time to adjust to the tempo of play manager Gary Mills wants.

It would also be unfair to compare the on-loan Kettering man to the standards set this season by the banned Jason Walker as the team’s lone central striker.

Ashikodi did look dangerous at times but struggled to hold the ball up and bring his team-mates into play, while impressive 19-year-old defender Oshodi deserved his man-of-the-match award following a confident and accomplished performance.