York City 2 Harriers 2
Venue: Kit Kat Crescent
away fans: 95
Late goal foils ten man Harriers
Against all odds the Harriers went into the lead during a torrid second half at York only to see their hopes of all three points quashed in the last minute by a late York goal and by some awful refereeing from a trumped up linesman given a responsibility that he couldn't cope with. Michael Blackwood received his marching orders after complaining too strongly about a dubious penalty awarded against him when the ball hit his hand in the penalty area and then in the players tunnel after the game the same trumped up linesman showed Johnny Mullins a red card after he too complained about his refereeing credentials.
Mark Yates went with the same team that started the game against Stevenage last Saturday with Luke Reynolds back up front after leaving the field at Aggborough twenty minutes into the game. With a cold wind blowing across the Choccy Bar Ground it was the Harriers that were to fire the first shots in what was a poor first half for both sides when Jon Newby sent in a shot that Porter, in goal for City, did well to save.
Further chances fell to Jake Sedgemore and Luke Reynolds with only Nathan Peat for City getting a look in but the half finished all square and with everything to play for.
HT: 0 - 0
The next half of the game was a vast difference to the first with four goals and a ruck of cards being brandished.
Former Harrier Andy Bishop was the first one to break but his interception of a deft through ball was flagged for offside just as he was about to fire. A minute later and he had got the first goal but in very dubious circumstances.
The ball was sent into the Harriers penalty area by Steve Thomas and it seemed to strike Michael Blackwoods hand. Intentional or not the referee immediately pointed to the spot and after a short remonstration from the Harriers players pulled out a red card and dismissed Blackie from the field of play.
Bishop stepped up to take the kick and sent in a hard shot that struck the underside of the bar and dropped directly down onto the line with the referee deciding that it had dropped goalside of the line and not on the other side as many witnesses said it had.
The loss of Blackwood spurred the Reds into action and they started to carve out openings on the City goal at will. Newby placed a fierce shot just to the left of the keeper that Porter did extremely well to save and Russell Penn also sent one in that only just went wide.
On the three quarter mark Luke Reynolds and Terry Fleming combined to put the game back to all square when Reynolds powerful shot went through a host of York defenders and Fleming pounced on the loose ball to force it over the line. Five minutes later and Luke turned from provider to scorer to send us into a well deserved lead.
Jake Sedgemore sent in a right-wing cross to pick out Reynolds who beat Porter from twelve yards with a looping header and we had now got the bit between our teeth. Reynolds went in on goal again a minute later with a fair challenge on the keeper but this time came out worse off and had to go off injured just a few minutes later. Lee Thompson replaced him to go up front with Gareth Sheldon who had replaced Jon Newby just moments earlier.
Now that they had gone behind City suddenly realised that their chance of a place in the play offs was receding fast and they had to do something about it. They started to throw everything that they had at their disposal at the Harriers rearguard and with the minutes on the clock quickly rushing down to zero they launched an attack on the Harriers goal that saved them from embarrassment in front of their own fans.
On ninety minutes Mark Convery's cross was headed on by substitute Joe O'Neill, Lewis parried the ball, but Donaldson was on hand to fire home the loose ball and break the Harriers fans hearts. Emmanuel Panther almost got a winning goal for his team in the very last second of extra time when his shot rebounded off Danny Lewis' upright just as the referee blew the final whistle. If that shot had gone in it would surely have been a cruel blow for the Harriers after bravely holding on to their well earned lead
As the teams went off the pitch words were exchanged in the tunnel and it appears that Johnny Mullins was given a red card for something that had been said to the referee. If that red card is allowed to stand then we shall be without three key players for the Good Friday visit to Canvey Island. Daryl Burgess was already going to miss the game anyway but now with the loss of Blackwood and Mullins our squad will look a bit thin for the visit to bleakest East Essex.