AS an act of redemption, underfire left-back Nathan Peat's thundering free-kick, which settled last night's thrilling 3-2 victory over Burton Albion in injury time, takes some beating.

Peat was hauled off after 21 minutes of City's impressive 2-1 victory over Stevenage last week after being booked and conceding a penalty.

The former Hull City defender was also replaced in his last outing at Gravesend after a poor back pass almost resulted in an equaliser during the eventual 1-0 win.

City boss Billy McEwan has called for greater discipline and controlled aggression from Peat, who has also faced a battle to win over City's home fans following an indifferent end to last season and the release of crowd favourite and fellow left-back Dave Merris.

But supporters and manager alike, will no doubt be in a more forgiving mood this morning - despite another yellow card - after the 23-year-old fired his club to the top of the Conference table in spectacular fashion to decide a pulsating encounter.

City were worthy 1-0 half-time leaders with midfielders Mark Convery and Steve Bowey hugging the flanks in a manner that they had not achieved during the first home game of the season against Exeter.

The subsequent space created allowed the Minstermen to play a confident passing game and, with strikers Clayton Donaldson and Craig Farrell to the fore, the home side threatened to enjoy a greater advantage than their 1-0 lead going into the interval.

Farrell's sure touches and vision, combined with Donaldson's pace, looked a lethal combination in the opening stages but a persistent Burton side refused to surrender and twice levelled the scores in the second half and arguably then looked the more likely winners until Peat's late strike followed Ryan Austin's controversial sending off.

Donaldson had earlier opened the scoring in stylish fashion on eight minutes after Farrell had dispossessed Burton defender Austin 30 yards from goal and sent his striking partner clear with a perfectly-timed pass.

The former Hull City striker went on to display great skill and nerve to roll his studs over the ball and round 43-year-old 'keeper Kevin Poole before prodding into an unguarded net.

Donaldson's pace took him clear of the Albion defence again a minute later but, this time, he overran the ball. Poole then displayed a level of agility that belied his advancing years to claw behind a Convery free-kick.

The visitors almost grabbed an equaliser just before the interval when Andy Ducros' corner caused consternation at City's far post but Evans made an instinctive save from Aaron Webster's close-range header.

Evans was in for a much busier second half with Andy Corbett, Ducros and Steve Scoffham all going close before the visitors levelled.

Ducros ran purposefully at David McGurk and created a yard of space before firing a fierce low drive from 15 yards that beat Evans at his near post.

McGurk responded with an overhead kick that narrowly cleared Poole's bar before Convery restored the Minstermen's lead, controlling the ball and aiming a low shot into the Burton 'keeper's bottom left-hand corner from 12 yards.

Burton struck back with a basic corner routine when substitute Keith Gilroy's inswinging corner was flicked on by Scoffham and headed in at the far post by Gary Rowett.

The away side then wasted a glorious chance to secure maximum points on 88 minutes when more defensive uncertainty, involving McGurk, James Dudgeon and Peat, led to the trio chasing substitute Shaun Harrad from the half-way line while Daryl Clare was screaming for a square pass inside the home penalty box.

But Harrad not only failed to find Clare but ran the ball straight into the hands of Evans.

Moments later, Austin tangled with Donaldson 25 yards from goal.

The award of a free-kick seemed harsh and the Burton bench's fury was ignited further when referee Stephen Cummins deemed Austin guilty of preventing a goalscoring chance despite Donaldson not running directly at goal and other defenders in close vicinity.

Burton boss Nigel Clough and his assistant Gary Crosby were then apoplectic when Peat stepped up to curl a terrific left-footed shot over Poole and into his top right-hand corner.

The whistle went seconds later and, as Clough and Crosby made a beeline for Mr Cummins, Peat enjoyed the long-awaited plaudits of City's supporters.

Match facts

York City 3, (Donaldson 8 Convery 61 Peat 90) Burton Albion 2 (Ducros 50, Rowett 73)

York City: Evans 7, Craddock 7, Dudgeon 7, McGurk 6, Peat 8, Convery 8, Panther 8, Bishop 7, Bowey 7, Farrell 7, Donaldson 8 Key: 10 - Faultless; 9 - Outstanding; 8 - Excellent; 7 - Good; 6 - Average; 5 - Below par; 4 - Poor; 3 - Dud; 2 - Hopeless; 1 - Retire Subs (not used): Lloyd, Reid, Parslow, Webster, Greenwood.

Star man: Emmanuel Panther - Getting back to his best in City's midfield.

Burton Albion: Kevin Poole, Gary Rowett, Darren Tinson, Ryan Austin, Arran Webster, Andy Corbett (Daniel Holmes 62), Darren Stride, Lee Fowler, Andy Ducros (Keith Gilroy, 71), Daryl Clare, Steve Scoffham (Shaun Harrad 78). Subs not used: Terry Henshaw, Jon Shaw.

Yellow cards: Peat 49, Clare 52, Holmes 90.

Red cards: Austin 90.

Referee: Stephen Cummins (Runcorn). Rating: Hit and miss, not helped by erratic assistants.

Attendance: 2,812.

Weather watch: Mild and dry.

Game breaker: Harrad's failure to score for Burton with two minutes to go which paved the way for Peat to decide an end-to-end encounter instead.

Match rating: Fantastic entertainment, but not one for fans of a nervous disposition.

Billy's verdict: "We played some good football at times and at other times we were not so good, but you also have to respect the quality of the opposition. They are a strong, experienced team."

Player watch: Neal Bishop

Shots on target: 0
Shots off target: 1
Passes to own player: 15
Passes to opposition: 3
Crosses to own player: 0
Crosses to opposition: 1
Pass success rate: 78.9 per cent
Dribbles ball retained: 1 Dribbles ball lost: 4 Dribble success rate: 20 per cent
Fouls won: 2
Fouls conceded: 1 Headers: 8
Tackles: 12
Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 5
Offsides: 0
Bookings: 0
Final summary: Competitive as ever in midfield, as is illustrated by the 12 tackles he made, Bishop was also reliable in possession and only made three stray passes all evening. Could perhaps threaten the opposition's goal more and only managed one off-target attempt in this game.