York City 3 Portsmouth 1: Minstermen gain revenge but it all comes far too late

THE end may be near for York City, but Jackie McNamara's men are clearly not ready to face the final curtain just yet.

York Citys Bradley Fewster rises to head his side in front and on their way to victory over Portsmouth at Bootham Crescent last night (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

On a night when anything but a victory would have meant relegation from the Football League being confirmed, the Minstermen earned a reprieve. Of sorts.

Goals from Bradley Fewster, Lewis Alessandra and Luke Summerfield were enough to clinch those precious three points against promotion-chasing Portsmouth.

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However, with Newport County drawing at home to Oxford United, York now trail the Welsh side by nine points with just three games remaining.

Factor in Newport’s vastly superior goal difference and the Minstermen are effectively down.

Still, last night was one when a semblance of pride was restored by a team who, it seemed, had forgotten how to win.

Twelve games and more than two months had passed since York’s previous triumph in a season that has contained few highlights and far too many lowpoints.

Perhaps the worst of those came at Fratton Park, as McNamara’s side contrived to turn a goalless scoreline at the interval into a 6-0 hammering that, if anything, could have been even heavier.

Last night saw pride restored, even if ultimately the denting of Portsmouth’s own promotion attempt merely delayed what has appeared inevitable for months as far as the home side are concerned.

As the players took to the field, the sun was setting behind the Popular Stand.

The same could be said about York’s stint in the League as the game kicked off, something that the players were clearly well aware of judging by their first-half efforts.

Certainly, it is difficult to recall a performance anywhere near as good as that put in by McNamara’s men during the opening 45 minutes.

Against a club chasing promotion, the Minstermen made a mockery of their lowly standing with two goals inside less than 240 seconds around the half-hour mark.

The first came via a corner, the second time in as many games York had scored in such a manner – quite remarkable considering in the previous five months under McNamara they had not managed even one.

Luke Summerfield’s delivery allowed Scot Bennett to head back across goal for Fewster to finish from close range.

York doubled that advantage courtesy of a quite sublime move, Fewster spreading play to the right flank where Luke Hendrie raced clear of the visitors.

He then looked up and rolled a pass across the face of goal that was just begging to be converted, which Lewis Alessandra did with glee.

Portsmouth could not claim that the goals came against the run of play, with goalkeeper Paul Jones having had to save smartly from Fewster on 15 minutes and Josh Carson also going close early on.

York could have added a third in stoppage time at the end of the first half when Hendrie again got clear down the right.

Jones half-cleared the cross and Summerfield scuffed the resulting volley to hand Pompey a reprieve.

As the players left the field at half-time, it was difficult to believe Paul Cook’s men would be able to capitalise on the let-off.

Not after their abject efforts in those opening 45 minutes, Kyle Bennett’s shot that flew high and wide being their only genuine sighting of the home goal.

So it proved, with any lingering hope among the 1,000 or so fans who had travelled from the south coast being all but killed off just three minutes after the restart.

Summerfield, collecting the ball 30 yards from goal, took one touch before unleashing a ferocious shot that gave Jones no chance.

Portsmouth’s reply was impressively swift, Gareth Evans pulling a goal back with a shot that Scott Flinders really should have dealt with comfortably.

That gave the visitors, who moments earlier had gone close through Michael Smith, fresh hope and for the next 20 minutes or so York visibly wobbled.

However, despite Evans striking a post aand Ben Davies curling a free-kick just wide, there was to be no way back for the visitors.

Instead, as the game entered the closing stages, it was the hosts who looked most likely to grab the night’s fifth goal.

Fewster missed twice in quick succession before then being denied by Jones, who moments later managed to keep out a follow-up from Danny Galbraith.

York City: Flinders; Hendrie, Cameron, Bennett, Carson; Penn, Summerfield, Berrett; Galbraith (McEvoy 90), Fewster, Alessandra. Unused substitutes: Riordan, Swan, Thompson, Dixon, Ingham.

Portsmouth: Jones; Davies, Webster (Barton 44), Clarke; Stevens, Hollands; Doyle, Evans, McNulty (Chaplin 78), Bennett (Tollitt 70); Smith. Unused substitutes: McGurk, Naismith, Freeman, Murphy.

Referee: N Miller (County Durham).