York City v Fleetwood: Minstermen get their way over waterlogged semi-final

Ian Cooper, Carl Boyeson and Dean Treleaven test the pitch before the Sky Bet League Two, Play-off Semi Final, First Leg at Bootham Crescent, York.
Ian Cooper, Carl Boyeson and Dean Treleaven test the pitch before the Sky Bet League Two, Play-off Semi Final, First Leg at Bootham Crescent, York.
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YORK CITY’S League Two play-off semi-final first leg against Fleetwood Town may have fallen victim to the weather on Saturday night, but they did claim a victory without a ball being kicked.

Torrential and persistent rain in York from early afternoon onwards took its toll on the Bootham Crescent surface, despite the best efforts of club officials, who worked tirelessly to try and make the pitch playable, but to no avail.

Initially, the game was put back half-an-hour from its original kick-off time of 7.30pm by Hull-based referee Carl Boyeson.

But at around 7.40pm, with the rain still coming down, Boyeson and his fellow match officials decided that the surface was unplayable, with standing water on sections of the pitch.

The game has been rescheduled for this evening (7.45pm) and despite suggestions that the game would not be televised – potentially costing York £20,000 – it will now be screened live on Sky Sports Two, weather permitting.

Fleetwood had wanted the game to be played tomorrow night, with their York counterparts having pushed for the first leg to be staged this evening and getting their way after both clubs pressed their case to Football League officials.

Minstermen chief Nigel Worthington, who takes his side to Lancashire for the second leg at Highbury Stadium on Friday night, said: “I wanted the Monday to give us an extra day’s recovery towards the game on the Friday. Plus, we are the home team with a full house and the Football League have made a sensible decision on that one.

“Both clubs wanted a quick decision on it. Fleetwood wanted the game on a Tuesday night, we held firm for the Monday night and the Football League made the decision for the Monday.”

Both Worthington and Fleetwood counterpart Graham Alexander were in agreement that referee Boyeson made the right call in postponing the game, having initially delayed the game for 30 minutes on the grounds of player safety.

He added: “Credit to everybody; the referee, two clubs and the managers, while the groundsman worked very, very hard to get the game on and we wanted it on.

“Unfortunately, it was beyond our control and there was absolutely nothing we could have done about it. There hasn’t been a game called off at Bootham Crescent all season when there has been all over the country elsewhere; it was just the torrential rain we had from lunchtime right through.

“On Saturday morning from about half-past seven to one o’clock, it looked magnificent; it looked the part. It’s just unfortunate, but there was nothing we could do.

“It was difficult for the players, they were ready to go and it was called off at the last minute.

“There was another 30-minute delay and, at some stage, a decision had to be made in fairness to supporters and players alike.”

York loan defender Ben Davies, whose parent club Preston North End fared better on the weather front with their play-off game with Rotherham getting underway at tea-time despite plenty of rain at Deepdale, admitted that the postponement represented a frustration for players, but was the right call.

He said: “We were desperately disappointed. The fans came out in numbers and it was great to see and I was really looking forward to playing in front of them all.

“But you can’t control the weather. It’s just disappointing we have had no games called off all season and then we get to the main one, the weather lets us down.

“To be fair, I think the referee had no choice. There were puddles all over the pitch.

“We have tried all season to get ourselves in this position. We don’t want to be let down by someone slipping or the ball getting stuck in a puddle to put us a goal behind going into the second leg.

“Probably the right decision has been made, although everybody is disappointed.”

Supporters who purchased tickets for the postponed fixture can re-use their original ticket to gain entry to Bootham Crescent, no matter what condition the ticket is in.

Last six games: York DWWWDD, Fleetwood WDWWDL.

Referee: C Boyeson (East Yorks).

Last time: York City 0 Fleetwood Town 2; October 26, 2013; League Two.