Date: 27th March 2018 at 10:03pm
Written by: Vital York City

York City rounded-off a truly momentous day with a dramatic 3-2 victory against Southport at Bootham Crescent.

Goals from Alex Kempster and Aidan Connolly appeared to leave them well in charge at the interval. But Jason Gilchrist, from an initially saved penalty, and Elliott Osborne brought it back level with just four minutes remaining.

However, substitute James Gray sensationally grabbed an injury-time winner – his first-ever senior goal for the club completing a hugely important triumph.

Already without leading scorer Jon Parkin due to undergoing a minor operation on his knee, the hosts also worryingly lost goalscorer Kempster and Louis Almond with suspected hamstring injuries – and then on loan Alex Pattison (foot).

There were earlier three changes with midfielder Simon Heslop suspended, Parkin injured and Connor Brown dropped to the bench; Josh Law, Jonny Burn and Kempster returning.

Southport included former York duo in goalkeeper Jon Worsnop and on loan Forest Green Rovers left-back Alex Whittle.

Having forced a couple of early corners, the recalled Kempster immediately raced through on five minutes and slipped his finish only just wide of the far post.

But Kempster soon headed the home side in front from Connolly’s cross, with the ball appearing to go in between Worsnop’s legs.

Dion Charles shot wide of the near post at the other end while recent arrival Ross Hannah headed over from his later corner.

York then lost striker Kempster following a heavy challenge from Steve Howson. On loan Blackpool striker Raul Correia was his replacement.

Daniel Parslow soon blocked well before Clive Smith headed narrowly wide for the visitors after a further Charles cross.

Connolly’s speculative reply from distance proved absolutely no threat; although the little Scot was crucially on the end of Almond’s cross towards the near post to double the advantage in first-half added time.

Ex-City defender Whittle immediately responded but Adam Bartlett comfortably gathered as the action drew to a close.

However, the league’s leading scorer Gilchrist soon volleyed over from close-range after the restart.

Meanwhile, the hosts suffered another injury blow as Almond limped off in favour of the much-criticised Gray, lately returned from a loan spell at Tamworth.

Skipper David Lynch was too high midway through the second-half before Adriano Moke replaced the injured Pattison with twenty minutes remaining.

Gilchrist, already a marksman for FC United of Manchester at Bootham Crescent earlier this season, then struck wide.

But David Ferguson was penalised inside his own area with twelve minutes remaining and Gilchrist converted despite Bartlett initially denying his spot-kick.

Hamza Bencherif then covered the threat of Gilchrist and Charles was also blocked; although the visitors still drew level inside the closing five minutes as Osborne spectacularly fired in from outside the area.

However, York were to dramatically steal victory in added time when ex-Southport striker Gray turned in Connolly’s driven cross, to spark both celebration and relief amongst the home faithful.

York City: Bartlett, Burn, Parslow, Bencherif, Law, Pattison (Moke 70), Newton, Ferguson, Connolly, Almond (Gray 52), Kempster (Correia 32)

subs (unused): Brown, Simpson

Goals: Kempster (9), Connolly (45), Gray (90)

Southport: Worsnop, Richards, Whittle, Smith (Dawson 46), Howson, Marx, Osborne, Lynch, Gilchrist, Hannah, Charles

subs (unused): Fagan, Doyle, Priestley, Halstead

Goals: Gilchrist (78), Osborne (86)

Ref: A. Jackson

Att: 2,169 (107 Southport)