Date: 15th August 2017 at 10:08pm
Written by: Vital York City

York City were frustrated by old adversaries Darlington as both sides were denied through the woodwork in an always entertaining but ultimately deadlocked encounter at Bootham Crescent.

The Minstermen dominated the opening forty-five minutes and Michael Rankine struck the crossbar in added time; although their opponents were always particularly dangerous and found themselves similarly disappointed on more than one occasion.

City were unchanged from their big weekend triumph while attacking towards their favoured home end during the opening half, and Hamza Bencherif challenged an early Sean Newton free-kick that drifted wide.

But the visitors went much closer moments later as Mark Beck’s point-blank header from James Caton’s cross only located the outside of a post, while Rankine’s twenty-yard reply was turned aside by ex-York trialist Adam Bartlett. Newton’s shot was soon blocked from Louis Almond’s cross.

Goalkeeper Bartlett was once again in the action from Newton’s firm drive before Amari Morgan-Smith found himself brought down on the edge of the area by cautioned last-man Dominic Collins. The home faithful were simply insisting on a red card.

Newton’s resultant free-kick was unfortunately tame but the hosts instantly moved the ball back into the danger-zone for their inspirational skipper to strike narrowly wide of the top corner. Josh Gillies replied just off-target following Gary Brown’s long throw.

Adriano Moke seized upon possession and soon tried his luck from twenty-five-yards as Bartlett routinely collected; that after Alex Whittle had already looped a header over from Simon Heslop’s cross.

York almost went ahead on the half-hour when Rankine was on the end of Newton’s cross and Bartlett came to the rescue as his hard-pressed colleagues suddenly conceded a succession of corners. Whittle hoisted well over from the latest of them.

However, the visitors were again denied when Gillies’ cross was met by Collins’ header and Jon Worsnop reacted superbly. David Syers also had a driven attempt blocked.

Almond’s searching delivery then almost released Morgan-Smith at the opposite end, while Rankine agonisingly headed Newton’s cross against the crossbar in first-half added time.

Unbeaten joint-leaders Darlington were forced into a change and reshuffle at the break while proceeding to continue with their blatant time-wasting tactics.

But York certainly weren’t as fluid as the opening period and the unmarked Syers headed Terry Galbraith’s delivery wide before Gillies similarly missed after Whittle’s badly under-hit pass left keeper Worsnop in trouble. In between those, Newton struck behind following good work from Heslop.

Stretching home striker Rankine in turn lifted Josh Law’s delivery over the crossbar while there were unsuccessful penalty claims as Morgan-Smith went down inside the area. Daniel Parslow also headed straight at Bartlett from Morgan-Smith’s corner before substitute Stephen Thompson rapidly volleyed over following Moke’s misplaced pass.

Manager Gary Mills reacted by withdrawing the Portuguese-born midfielder in favour of Aidan Connolly with less than twenty minutes of a particularly lively contest remaining.

However, David Ferguson later fired over from distance when the hosts failed to properly clear; that after Rankine had already headed wide Parslow’s cross. Rankine also sliced comfortably behind – but it was always especially optimistic.

Busy Darlington were once again kept out by the woodwork when Syers blasted against an upright on 83 minutes, while York skipper Newton received a sudden caution for dissent and substitute Connolly saw an injury-time response deflected over.

York City: Worsnop, Law, Parslow, Bencherif, Whittle, Heslop, Moke (Connolly 73), Newton, Almond, Rankine (Muggleton 90), Morgan-Smith

subs (unused): Smith, Felix, Sukar

Darlington: Bartlett, Hunter, Galbraith, Turnbull, Collins, Brown (Scott 46), Gillies (Thompson 70), Syers, Beck, Caton (Saunders 58), Ferguson

subs (unused): Wilczynski, Fenwick

Ref: S. Mather

Att: 3,944 (1,041 Darlington)

Tuesday’s Results: Alfreton 1-0 North Ferriby; Brackley 1-0 Nuneaton; Gainsborough 2-4 Blyth; Harrogate 4-1 Chorley; Kidderminster 2-0 Leamington; Salford 2-1 Stockport; Southport 3-3 FC United of Manchester; Spennymoor 3-0 Bradford PA; Tamworth 2-1 Boston; York City 0-0 Darlington

Monday’s Result: Curzon Ashton 1-0 AFC Telford

League Table (Top):

1. Brackley 4 – 12 (+9)
2. Harrogate 4 – 10 (+9)
3. Darlington 4 – 10 (+6)
4. Southport 4 – 10 (+6)
5. Spennymoor 3 – 9 (+5)
6. Salford 4 – 9 (+2)
7. YORK CITY 4 – 7 (+6)