FEARLESS Richard Brodie rattled in his 30th goal of the season to leave York City tantalisingly close to securing a play-off spot.

Brodie, who saw his last penalty saved at Mansfield, stepped up to take a crucial spot kick in the third minute of stoppage time against Altrincham with the scores deadlocked at 1-1 during yesterday’s Bootham Crescent clash.

On-loan midfielder Paul Harsley, an experienced converter from 12 yards at previous clubs Port Vale, Macclesfield and Halifax, even offered to relieve Brodie of the responsibility after the England ‘C’ international had been tripped by Greg Young.

But, despite having endured a frustrating afternoon in which he had hit the roof of the David Longhurst Stand, squandered a one-on-one chance, been denied an earlier penalty shout and had a weak header cleared off the line, Brodie declined the chance to shy away from a highly-pressurised situation.

Instead, he fired emphatically into Alty ’keeper Stuart Coburn’s top right-hand corner to score his first goal at Bootham Crescent since mid-January.

It was a terrific test of character passed by the 22-year-old Northern League graduate whose three-match suspension fears were also allayed by the passing of this match.

Brodie, who has been shown 12 yellow cards this season, is now safe with Saturday’s trip to Eastbourne marking the 15- booking threshold for this season.

His injury-time heroics came at the end of an unconvincing display by the Minstermen that saw the home side fall behind to substitute Chris Denham’s 63rd-minute lob.

But David McGurk levelled the scores with his first goal of the season six minutes later even though Michael Rankine had appeared to impede Coburn following a Courtney Pitt cross.

Martin Foyle’s men will welcome the three points having struggled to get a stranglehold on the game for long periods against an Altrincham side fielding a 3-6-1 formation.

City opted for a 4-3-3 line-up but, with Jamie Clarke permanently positioned in front of the back four and neither full-back pushing forward with intent, Harsley and Neil Barrett were largely swamped in the middle of the park.

Nevertheless, chances did still fall to City with Brodie firing the first well over after cutting in from the right flank on 16 minutes.

Seconds later, an excellent save by Michael Ingham kept the home side on level terms after Chris Senior had run into the wide gap between David McGurk and Ben Purkiss to collect Colin Little’s through ball and bear down on the home goal.

Senior’s low drive, though, was saved low to his right by the City ’keeper.

A heavy touch by Peter Doran then saw him waste a glorious chance in front of goal on 25 minutes and Harsley also had to clear off the line following Senior’s looping header from a Ryan Brown corner.

In between, Coburn spilled a 25-yard Pitt effort and Barrett, following up, could only find the sidenetting from an acute angle with Brodie waiting to tap in.

Brodie was also released for a free run on goal by Pitt shortly afterwards but never looked confident before shooting straight at Coburn.

Early in the second half, Pitt’s thumping 15-yard drive was parried by Coburn and Barrett was deceived by the rebound.

Brodie then seemed to be nudged over in the box by Robbie Williams as he prepared to shoot following Pitt’s through ball, but referee Andrew Madley surprised most in the 3,005-strong crowd when he chose not to point to the spot.

On 56 minutes, Brodie’s header from a Pitt cross was cleared off the line by Anthony Danylyk.

Barrett was then flagged offside having found the net from close range after Pitt’s deflected shot had fallen to him at the far post.

Within seconds, Altrincham had broken up the other end to level the scores.

A long punt upfield caught out the City defence and Denhamlifted a perfectly-weighted edge-of-the-box effort over Ingham who, despite scrambling back towards his goal, failed to prevent the ball finding the top right-hand corner.

At the other end, Michael Gash volleyed wide from the edge of the box before being replaced by Rankine who immediately made his presence felt.

The 6ft 3in striker appeared to jump into Coburn as he attempted to meet Pitt’s right-wing cross.

When the Alty ’keeper then dropped the ball, McGurk was handily placed to stab the ball into an inviting net from three yards.

Brodie was denied by a low dive to his left by Coburn on 74 minutes and, when Pitt was replaced by Chris Carruthers, it seemed that City might have to settle for a point.

Robins’ centre-back Young, though, was to play a pivotal role in the game’s final exchanges.

First, he headed wide from a Brown free-kick on 89 minutes and then his sliding challenge on Brodie, as the City striker attempted to wriggle his way past him, saw Madley point to the spot.

Visiting manager Graham Heathcote clearly did not agree with the decision after Brodie had settled matters, heading towards the Ossett official at the final whistle.

He then manhandled City’s safety officer Eric Hope who had tried to intervene and, after Alty’s assistant manager Ken McKenna had shoved Heathcote towards the players’ tunnel, a home fan jumped on the visiting chief with the pushing and shoving carrying on as members of staff from both teams headed for the dressing rooms.

Match facts

York city 2 (McGurk 69; Brodie pen 90+3)

Altrincham 1 (Denham 63)

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

Michael Ingham 7
Ben Purkiss 6
Luke Graham 7
David McGurk 7
James Meredith 6
Paul Harsley 6
Neil Barrett 6
Jamie Clarke 6
Courtney Pitt 8
Richard Brodie 7
Michael Gash 6

Substitutions: Michael Rankine 7 (for Gash, 66), Alex Lawless 7 (for Clarke, 66), Chris Carruthers (for Pitt, 83). Not used: Parslow, Smith.

City’s star man: Pitt – constant menace to the visitors with a regular supply of crosses and shots on goal.

Altrincham: Stuart Coburn, Robbie Williams, Greg Young, James Smith, Shaun Densmore, Anthony Danylyk, Robbie Lawton, Peter Doran (John McAliskey, 77), Ryan Brown, Colin Little (Chris Denham, 60), Chris Senior (Adam Carden, 77). Subs not used: Russell Saunders, Michael Welch.

Booked: Purkiss 34, Young 84, Lawless 87, Brown 89.

Referee: Andrew Madley (Ossett). Rating: got the big decisions wrong.

Attendance: 3,005 (213 away fans).

Save of the match: Ingham’s one-on-one save from Senior early on.

Mistake of the match: Referee Madley’s failure to give Brodie an earlier chance to score from the spot.

Shot of the match: Brodie’s unstoppable penalty.