A SPOT of divine intervention from York City’s Angel of the North fired York City into a 1-0 lead going into Monday’s play-off semi-final second leg at Luton Town.

With the clock ticking on last night’s first leg, Richard Brodie scored his 37th goal of the season in the 89th minute to spark joyous celebrations at Bootham Crescent.

The England ‘C’ international, who had been well shackled by the Luton defence, escaped their attentions after the ball skidded off Shane Blackett’s head and sent him clear on goal.

Brodie then fired a clinical finish into Luton goalkeeper Mark Tyler’s bottom left-hand corner.

The match had kicked off after a 15-minute delay to allow Luton fans extra time to get into the ground.

City manager Martin Foyle recalled rested trio Michael Ingham, Brodie and Ben Purkiss to his starting line-up for the match, with Daniel Parslow and Josh Mimms dropping to the bench and Paul Harsley left out of the squad.

The visitors included winger Adam Newton as a makeshift right-back, with Ed Asafu-Adjaye failing a fitness test.

A rousing atmosphere greeted both teams on to the pitch and, within three minutes of the first whistle, Luton midfielder Simon Heslop was cautioned for a late challenge on Levi Mackin.

Former Wales Under-21 international Mackin made a purposeful start to the match and had City’s two first-half goal attempts, firing wide from 25 yards with both efforts within the opening 12 minutes.

At the other end, Keith Keane’s 30-yard drive skidded off the greasy surface and forced Michael Ingham into the first save of the night on 18 minutes.

Brodie and Alex Lawless were then denied shots on goal by brilliant blocks from Blackett and Adam Newton respectively.

But Luton began to force proceedings going into the interval.

Centre-back Blackett escaped Rankine’s attentions to meet a Keane cross on 36 minutes and Kevin Gallen’s header required a smart parry from Ingham.

The ball then ricocheted back off Gallen with Ingham saving again.

Shortly afterwards, Claude Gnakpa stabbed a shot against a post after meeting Jake Howells’ left-wing cross.

An overlapping Craddock also fired wide after receiving Gnakpa’s pass in first-half stoppage time.

Luke Graham called visiting ’keeper Tyler into action for the first time during a promising start to the second half by City.

The former Peterborough stopper displayed swift reflexes to keep out Graham’s 49th-minute downward header, following Chris Carruthers’ cross to the far post.

Tyler also made an easier save when Brodie found himself in exactly the same position from a Ben Purkiss delivery.

Frenchman Gnakpa, though, missed an excellent chance to break the deadlock when he cleared the bar from six yards with his left foot after good work by Craddock.

Neil Barrett drove over from 20 yards, meanwhile, before the home side also missed the target with a terrific chance.

Right-back Purkiss’ superb cross bounced across the six-yard box and sat up for an unmarked Carruthers but he shot wide of Tyler’s near post.

Long-distance attempts by Purkiss and James Meredith then cleared the crossbar before the first leg’s defining moment.

Typically, Brodie rose to the task to give City a 1-0 lead ahead of Monday’s mouth-watering second leg at Kenilworth Road.

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Match report

York City 1 (Brodie 89
Luton Town 0

Michael Ingham 8
Ben Purkiss 8
Luke Graham 8
David McGurk 8
James Meredith 8
Alex Lawless 7
Levi Mackin 8
Neil Barrett 7
Chris Carruthers 7
Richard Brodie 8
Michael Rankine 8

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

Substitutions: Adam Smith for Barratt (78 min); Michael Gash (for Rankine 90). Subs not used: Daniel Parslow, Richard Pacquette, Josh Mimms.

City’s star man: James Meredith – tigerish performance to nullify threat of Gnakpa.

Luton Town: Mark Tyler, Adam Newton, George Pilkington, Shane Blackett, Freddie Murray, Claude Gnakpa (Matthew Barnes-Homer 75), Keith Keane, Simon Heslop, Jake Howells, Tom Craddock, Kevin Gallen. Subs (not used) Janos Kovacs, Liam Hatch, Shane Gore, Asa Hall.

Bookings: Heslop 3, Smith 80.

Referee: Brendan Malone (Salisbury). Rating: made a number of puzzling decisions, especially with corners and throw-ins.

Attendance: 6,204 (1,240 from Luton).

Save of the match: Ingham’s double stop to deny Gallen in the first half.

Shot of the match: Brodie’s ruthless finish to hand City the first-leg advantage.

David McGurk v Tom Craddock City stalwart McGurk made a strong start to the match with a couple of excellently-timed tackles on 24-goal striker Craddock.

The former Middlesbrough trainee did outpace McGurk on one occasion in the second half when his scuffed shot led to an opportunity that Gnakpa lifted over.

But, for the majority of the match, he got very little change out of the Minstermen’s longest servant either on the floor or in the air.

Shots on target: York 3 Luton 5
Shots off target: York 8 Luton 10
Corners: York 5 Luton 10
Fouls: York 5 Luton 7
Offsides: York 2 Luton 2