Date: 15th February 2017 at 2:50pm
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Rewinding over two decades and the final game of the 1995-96 season as York City travel to the south coast for a tense relegation decider with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Rewinding over two decades and the final game of the 1995-96 season as York City travel to the south coast for a tense relegation decider with Brighton & Hove Albion.

The equation appeared simple enough but putting it into practice could have proved a far more difficult proposition for the struggling and badly out-of-form visitors.

The Minstermen were required to either take a point or score three goals regardless of the final outcome against the already-relegated Seagulls; that in order to send Carlisle United down into the fourth tier in their place. The latter scenario would actually witness City survive courtesy of number of goals scored.

With all the other clubs having already completed their season’s fixtures, York were worryingly still occupying a relegation place following a potentially fatal sequence of four successive defeats to Blackpool, Chesterfield, Carlisle and Stockport County.

The original meeting between the sides had been abandoned after just sixteen minutes twelve days earlier, when home fans invaded the pitch in protest of the proposed sale of the Goldstone Ground and planned stadium-share with Portsmouth.

The return was as a result made all-ticket and bizarrely kicked-off at 11.00am on a Thursday morning, therefore it was of little surprise there was a vastly reduced attendance. The original fixture had by contrast witnessed the crowd pushing towards the ten-thousand mark.

And the contest was to start particularly badly for York with former Huddersfield Town striker Craig Maskell expertly curling a left-footed finish beyond Dean Kiely and into the top corner on nineteen minutes.

Brighton then introduced former City golden boy John Byrne in place of later Bootham Crescent defender Gary Hobson as that scoreline remained unchanged through to the break. But the determined visitors were to shake-off their recent disastrous form and fight back with a couple of early second-half goals.

First homegrown 23-year-old striker Glenn Naylor collected Graeme Murty’s 53rd minute throw inside the area and conjured up a clever overhead assist for forward partner Gary Bull to volley an equaliser from six-yards. It was his eighth goal in fifteen appearances since being a makeweight in the £350,000 deal that had taken twenty-goal leading scorer Paul Barnes to Birmingham City a couple of months earlier.

Moments later winger Paul Stephenson calmly swept a right-footed shot wide of goalkeeper Nicky Rust and inside the far post to send the away fans into overdrive – before both sides were suddenly reduced to ten-men as Albion striker Zeke Rowe and York centre-back John Sharples were sent-off for violent conduct.

However, the visitors went on to absolutely guarantee their own safety with just a couple of minutes remaining when midfielder Scott Jordan added a decisive late third goal.

Manager Alan Little later described the travelling supporters as City’s ‘secret weapon’ while being forced to make the long 550-mile round trip at such an unearthly hour: “The fans never moaned, never complained,” he told The Press. “They wanted to see us do the job we came to do and they backed us all the way.

“I think that in their hearts they knew we would stay up. They certainly encouraged us. All the players were lifted by their support. To think they had come all this way with so much depending on the game. They were absolutely marvellous.”

Brighton & Hove Albion: Rust, Smith (Fox 84), Wilkins, Parris, Allan, Hobson (Byrne 28), Mundee (McDougald 76), Myall, Rowe, Maskell, Storer

Goals: Maskell (19)

York City: Kiely, McMillan, Atkinson, Pepper, Sharples, Atkin, Murty (Williams 89), Jordan, Naylor (Cresswell 55), Bull, Stephenson

subs (unused): Randall

Goals: Bull (53), Stephenson (56), Jordan (88)

Ref: G. Pooley (Bishops Stortford)

Att: 2,106



Video Link: YorkCityTV