Date: 7th January 2017 at 5:06pm
Written by: Vital York City

York City twice fought back to earn a thrilling 2-2 draw with play-off chasing Dover Athletic but should really have been celebrating an unlikely victory.

The Minstermen trailed early following Jamie Grimes taking advantage of a missed sixth-minute clearance by Shaun Rooney – only for Jon Parkin to equalise prior to the break.

However, despite appearing second-best for long stages, Dover were back in front when the prolific Ricky Miller calmly despatched a 72nd minute penalty.

That was cancelled out just five minutes later, though, when Rooney headed his first goal for the club following Sean Newton’s free-kick – although the visitors will still be reflecting on missed chances.

Manager Gary Mills earlier made a couple of changes with midfielder Adriano Moke ruled out with a dead-leg and Danny Holmes swapping to the bench.

Both Alex Whittle and Matt Fry returned to the starting line-up while Scott Fenwick also reappeared amongst the substitutes.

But it was Newton denied inside the opening thirty seconds as goalkeeper Steve Arnold came out to block following a misplaced back-pass before Jim Stevenson hoisted well over in reply.

Dover were soon in front, however, when a missed clearance from Rooney at Sammy Moore’s sixth-minute free-kick allowed skipper Grimes to turn into the net.

Rhys Murphy drove straight at Arnold at the other end and Fry also lifted over following the division’s leading marksman Miller himself proving too high.

On loan defender Aarran Racine next headed tamely at Arnold from a Simon Lappin free-kick, and Simon Heslop’s 25-yard effort also forced the former Forest Green Rovers keeper to block before Newton struck over from the edge of the area.

Skipper Heslop had another low drive taken by Arnold as the visitors were continuing to appear the better side, although Miller then escaped Yan Klukowski and flashed dangerously across goal. Helsop soon received the first caution of the afternoon and was instantly joined in the referee’s notebook by team-mate Rooney.

However, Rooney quickly burst forward and forced Arnold to turn over the crossbar. And York deservedly equalised from the resultant corner when Parkin blasted home following Lappin’s delivery.

Dover responded with Ross Lafayette clearing the target from Miller’s cross ahead of the interval – but the lowly visitors had still been the better side.

The Minstermen went close again upon the restart with Parkin’s header cleared off the line from Lappin’s free-kick. Goalscorer Parkin next struck the outside of an upright from Lappin’s short free-kick.

The bustling Parkin also saw a further lob collected by the keeper and Lafayette was off-target at the other end; that after a double substitution for the away side in which Luke Woodland and Daniel Nti replaced Fry and Murphy. Maltese international Magri’s 35-yard free-kick was then harmlessly wide and Stevenson similarly lifted over the bar.

However, Dover were suddenly awarded a penalty on the intervention of a referee’s assistant after first Lafayette and then Miller went down inside the box, the second from a challenge by Rooney, with Miller calmly slotting past Letheren from twelve-yards.

But the visitors were only behind for five minutes when Rooney dramatically headed his first goal for the club from Newton’s free-kick from the left.

Substitute Woodland next dragged wide following a surging break by Newton as their colleagues were now searching for a winner, although fellow replacement Nti was in turn far too close to Arnold from around twelve-yards.

And York could even have stolen it deep into three minutes of added time when the same Nti broke clear with only Arnold left to beat – but unfortunately couldn’t produce the finish with just seconds remaining.

Dover Athletic: Arnold, Magri, Sterling, Grimes, Thomas, Moore (Hurst 46), Stevenson, Orlu, Lafayette, Emmanuel (Modeste 46), Miller

subs (unused): Kinnear, Pinnock, Marsh

Goals: Grimes (6), Miller (pen 72)

York City: Letheren, Racine, Klukowski, Fry (Woodland 63), Rooney, Heslop, Lappin, Newton, Whittle, Murphy (Nti 63), Parkin

subs (unused): Fenwick, McDaid, Holmes

Goals: Parkin (36), Rooney (77)

Ref: A. Quelch

Att: 1,308 (161 York)