ONLY victory over Portsmouth tomorrow night will now give York City a chance of staying in the Football League.
Anything less and the Minstermen will definitely return to the realms of non-League football, which they left behind so gloriously four years ago.
A 2-1 defeat at Hartlepool, following defender Dave Winfield’s first-half dismissal, left York 11 points adrift of safety.
Depending on results at Stevenage and Newport, meanwhile, Jackie McNamara’s team could still go down even if they pick up maximum points against Pompey, leaving him to admit: “We need a miracle and it’s very difficult, especially when you give teams opportunities like we did again at Hartlepool.
“We also lost four points in the two games before and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”
Hartlepool went ahead on 24 minutes after the visitors failed to clear a corner from ex-York youth-team midfielder Michael Duckworth and Nathan Thomas pounced.
Winfield, who had been booked earlier for dragging down Luke James, was sent off 10 minutes later when he slid in for a challenge on Thomas.
But City were back in the game when on-loan Newcastle defender Kyle Cameron headed in his first senior goal from a Luke Summerfield corner on the stroke of half-time.
York-born, ex-Leeds United academy midfielder Michael Woods settled matters, though, on 72 minutes after his six-yard header from Carl Magnay’s cross went in off the post.
Hartlepool: Carson; Magnay, Bates, Jackson, Carroll (Richards, 76); Hawkins, Featherstone, Woods; Duckworth (Blackford, 84), James, Thomas (Oates, 69). Unused substitutes: Bartlett, Walker, Bingham, Laurent.
York City: Flinders; Hendrie, Winfield, Bennett, Cameron; Dixon (Galbraith, 75), Penn, Summerfield; Alessandra, Oliver (Ilesanmi, 37), Fewster (Riordan, 82). Unused substitutes: Ingham, Carson, Thompson, McEvoy.
Referee: Seb Stockbridge