The LNER Community Stadium hosted play-off rivals AFC Fylde in a match of great goals and even greater upsets.
The Minstermen have suffered in limbo for nearly two decades. When then-chairman Douglas Craig agreed on Bootham Crescent’s £4.5m sale in 2002, it had only hosted league football (plus plenty of other sports). Just four of the subsequent 16 seasons have been at that level, and York have dropped to English football’s sixth tier. For chairman Jason McGill, on this ‘crusade’ since 2003, and director Ian McAndrew, whose involvement even predates that, there will be one overriding emotion. “It will be a relief because for all the lovely memories at Bootham Crescent, it’s a 1932 stadium that’s falling down,” says McGill.
Tuesday 16 February was a night of high expectations for the city of York. The highly anticipated LNER Community Stadium was set to host its first fixture against AFC Fylde. The first half saw York City keep up with the high tempo set by the visitors, but couldn’t quite manage to preserve a clean sheet past the half time whistle as Jack Sampson hit the back of the net at the stroke of half time. Ten minutes into the second half and AFC Fylde doubled their lead with a thirty-yard belter from Nick Haughton from a free kick. Hope was revitalised by a sweet finish from the spot as Sean Newton planted the ball into the bottom left of the goal. A point seemed to be up for grabs but any optimism was squashed in the 80th minute as Haughton’s free kick rippled the top right corner. A duet of free kick goals for the man in form. The end of the evening saw York City edged out of the play- off position in 8th. However, with five games in hand over Chorley in 7th and only 13 points off of first, promotion remains a realistic prospect for the Minstermen.
I had the privilege to speak with York City U19’s central midfielder Alfie Evans as he shared his views the clubs restrictions in regards to COVID-19 and what it’s like to play for his boyhood club:
“For me personally, it’s great to play for this club. It’s unique because I grew up supporting them and used to dream of playing for York. For us (U19’s) we’ve had many restrictions in place – such as the use of face masks when using inside facilities. The worst one for me has been no more showers after training. Driving home wet or sweaty ain’t the one.”
Driving home in sweaty gear definitely isn’t ideal. We hear you Alfie.
York City’s next fixture sees them challenging play-off contenders Chorley at Victory Park. A fixture that has all York supporters mouth-watering as the race to promotion continues.