United’s unbeaten start to the league season came to an end as they were beaten 3-1 at York City this afternoon.
United could hardly have made a worse start. Straight from kick-off new arrival Clarke Carlisle pumped the ball forward, Jake Wright headed against the back of Adam Chapman and Patrick McLaughlin strode forward and drove a shot at goal. Ryan Clarke saved but spilled the ball, Ashley Chambers latched on to it and tapped the ball sideways from where Michael Coulson rolled the ball into the empty net. We had 17 seconds on our stopwatch from kick-off to goal and United were 1-0 down before any of their players had had control of the ball.
There were two changes to the side that went out of the Capital One Cup in midweek, with Sean McGinty and James Constable dropping to the bench and Jake Forster-Caskey and Deane Smalley returning after injury, and Smalley’s pace was clearly troubling the York back line as United came back strong after the early setback.
The inventive Sean Rigg curled a shot just wide after nine minutes then curled an even better effort against the bar via a deflection beforee United had the perfect chance to draw level when Smalley’s shot was handled by Charlie Taylor to earn United a 12th minute penalty. Smalley took responsibility but his low shot was too central and keeper Michael Ingham saved with ease.
It was to prove costly as within two minutes York were 2-0 up. Ashley Chambers picked the ball up on 15 minutes and ran at the United defence before giving the ball to McLaughlin just inside the area. He held it for a split second with his back to goal then rolled a well-timed ball to his left for McLaughlin to take in his stride then thump past the exposed Clarke from twelve yards.
It was such an open game that a Smalley header and a third Rigg drive had flashed just wide of the mark before we had reached 18 minutes, and the Yellows were far from out of the game, even if it was York who gave them a hand back into it. Chapman’s 23rd minute corner was well delivered but Danny Parslow wasn’t under the greatest of pressure as he unwisely thumped a header back towards his own net and past Ingham off of the unfortunate McLaughlin for an Own Goal.
A welcome lifeline but no more than United deserved after throwing men forward to get back into the game, and they would have been level on 36 had Ingham not blocked Smalley’s goalbound near-post flick after a flowing move had seen Rigg and Capaldi play a one-two that carved York’s right flank wide open for Rigg to ping in a low cross for Smalley.
It had been a remarkable half of football and it was still anyone’s game to win at the break, but nine minutes into the second half United were right up against it again as the usually unflappable Michael Raynes miscontrolled a through ball and presented the home side with the ball and a free run at goal for Jason Walker. He took the ball forward then passed to MvLaughlin who had a simple job of rolling the ball beyond Clarke to make it 3-1.
The U’s did their best to close that two goal gap and sub James Constable planted a decent effort wide of the mark from six yards which might have proved the key, but York were tighter in defence in the second half, the game far less open, and the Yellows found it very hard to break down the two banks of four presented by the home side.
United will play worse than this and win games this season, while York look as though they are back in the Football League to stay.
Now then, what's next? Ah yes, the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. see you on Wednesday.
Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi, Chapman, Heslop (Craddock 60), Forster-Caskey, Potter , Smalley (Constable 64), Rigg (Pittman
Brown, McGinty, Boateng, Marsh
Report by Chris Williams. Pictures by Darrell Fisher. Stats by PA Sports