York have now taken 17 points out of the last 24, crucially only two on their travels and it is this poor away form – they have the worst away record of the leading 11 teams – which is proving a handicap.
Still with nine games to play, six of them at home, they must still have every chance of reaching their target.
Cambridge just about deserved their win in a close contest which could have gone either way, home supporters revealing that this was their team’s best display for three months.
York began with a 4-3-3 formation but switched to 4-4-2 after 10 minutes and also played 4-2-4 as they tried to maintain their fine recent run.
They had their chances, Jamie Reed hitting the bar just after Liam Hughes had put Cambridge ahead in the 18th minute; Michael Rankine going close twice; Peter Till shooting over and David McGurk heading wide.
Although Reed equalised in the 24th minute and York did plenty of attacking in the second half with Rankine wasting a gilt-edged chance, Cambridge often stretched the York defence and after Hughes had been unlucky with a shot which rebounded from the bar, Danny Wright cracked home the winner in the 77th minute after bursting through the middle unchallenged.
York manager Gary Mills said: “It was the most open game since I joined the club and while it was a disappointing result we must bounce back on Saturday.”
Cambridge United: Brown; Roberts, Saah, Partridge, Jennings; Berry (Walker 59), Wellard, Bentley, Patrick (McAuley 88); Wright (Platt 88), Hughes. Unused substitutes: Naisbitt, Hudson.
York City: Ingham; Darville, McGurk, Parslow, Meredith; McDermott, Kerr, J Smith (Constantine 83); Reed (Carruthers 75), Rankine, Till. Unused substitutes: Knight, Hatfield, Boucaud.
Referee: N Kinsley (Wickford, Essex).
Man of the Match: Scott Kerr.