Travelling back to four years ago today when York City’s promotion charge in League Two was continuing to gather some real momentum under Nigel Worthington.
York City took a giant stride towards the play-offs with a superb 1-0 victory at top-seven rivals Oxford United.
Michael Coulson scored from the spot for the second successive game early in the second-half after skipper Russell Penn’s shot was handled.
The Minstermen move up to seventh in the table after a sixth away win in their last seven attempts, two points clear of their latest hosts with just three games remaining.
Meanwhile, fellow challengers Plymouth Argyle crashed 4-0 at City’s next opponents Bury, although Southend United swept aside title-chasers Rochdale 3-0 at Spotland.
The opening half proved a tight affair between two sides for whom so much rested on the outcome of the contest.
Striker Dave Kitson had an early shot deflected over for the hosts and Adam Reed blocked the threat of Australian-born midfielder Ryan Williams.
York’s on loan winger Ryan Brobbel raced in the opposite direction to earn a corner from which fellow loanee Ben Davies struck well wide.
The visitors threatened around the half-hour as Will Hayhurst was blocked ten-yards out, while City’s highly-rated young goalkeeper Nick Pope uncharacteristically mishandled on a couple occasions – but his defence remained firm.
Coulson then chipped over from a flowing move and Hayhurst’s free-kick was deflected behind. James Constable headed wide a Callum O’Dowda delivery in reply.
But it was the Minstermen forging in front straight after the restart when Hayhurst’s whipped corner witnessed Penn’s shot being handled and a raised flag from the sideline official. Coulson expertly despatched only his third career penalty and sixth goal of the campaign.
Home striker Constable was well wide at the other end, where both Davies and John McCombe cleared well before Brobbel surged away to relieve the pressure.
Oxford tried again with Williams dragging across goal under challenge from McCombe and Pope gathering cleanly ahead of the oncoming Constable.
York almost doubled their lead when Calvin Andrew’s 73rd minute shot was parried by Ryan Clarke and Hayhurst’s corner was cleared off the line by David Hunt, who soon crossed for Josh Ruffels to head wide.
Goalscorer Coulson next had a long-range attempt taken by Clarke while Michael Raynes scooped over a Kitson pass as the hosts chased a late equaliser.
Defender Raynes then headed substitute Alfie Potter’s injury-time cross narrowly wide before Pope gathered to huge roars of approval from the visiting supporters in the final raid of the game.
Oxford United: Clarke, Hunt, Wright, Raynes, Newey, Williams (Potter 69), Ruffels, Wroe, O’Dowda (Connolly 75), Kitson, Constable
subs (unused): Whing, Rose, Davies, Crocombe, Long
York City: Pope, Oyebanjo, Lowe, McCombe, Davies, Brobbel, Penn, Reed (Montrose 89), Hayhurst (Puri 84), Coulson, Andrew (Bowman 90)
subs (unused): Jarvis, Platt, Allan, Ingham
Goals: Coulson (pen 48)
Ref: O. Langford (West Midlands)
Att: 7,118 (781 York)