York City 2 Tranmere 0: Fletcher in at double to ease drop fears
So there was a huge sigh of relief around Bootham Crescent as they pulled out of the relegation zone after only their second home win of the season on Saturday.
Ironically, it was their failure to overturn a red card for striker Jake Hyde after he was dismissed for violent conduct in the 2-2 midweek draw at Luton Town which played a part in the Minstermen registering this first home win since the Boxing Day triumph over Accrington Stanley.
Wes Fletcher was the man who replaced Hyde and justified manager Russ Wilcox’s decision by scoring both goals in a victory which could have been more emphatic but for some fine goalkeeping from Owain Fon Williams and two unlucky strikes against the woodwork in quick succession.
The switch of system to 4-2-3-1 has also paid dividends and York would surely have been celebrating six points from two games had Hyde not seen red when they were 2-0 ahead.
The mind-boggling new £5.1bn broadcasting deal for Premier League clubs has also concentrated minds for those running clubs in the Football League’s bottom tier, making it even more important they do not fall into the two trap-door slots – Cheltenham and Hartlepool being the two there.
League Two clubs are currently handed £240,000 as their share of TV money and that figure is expected to rise to over £400,000 when the new deal comes into place.
Such an increase would make dropping out of the Football League financially calamitous, with Conference payments a fraction of that figure.
York director Sophie McGill underscored the point.
“The new broadcasting deal does have a positive effect on us. Obviously, the amounts of money that are received by Premiership teams are vastly different to those at the lower end of the Football League, but the positive thing is that money does filter down and it will benefit York City Football Club,” she said.
“For clubs at our level, any increase in income is vitally important and especially here at York because everything that we do generate goes into the team. It bodes well for the future for us.”
The club also do not want to enter their new ground in the Conference, from which it took eight years to rebound.
McGill adds: “We will be moving into the new ground in July, 2016, all being well. The detailed planning application is being submitted and we are hoping to get a positive outcome from that.
“It will be about a 60-week build and hopefully we will start in April. Next season will be the last here at Bootham Cresecent. It will be emotional, but we know that the new community stadium offers us a bright future.
“The stadium itself is a £17m project so anything we can get from the broadcasting deal is welcome – obviously the stadium is a project run by the City of York Council – and the key point for us is that any additional TV revenue goes into our playing budget.
“It is imperative that we stay in the Football League and that’s what we are focusing on at the moment.
“We have a great manager in Russ Wilcox and are very confident in his ability so we will stick together. There have been a lot of good performances away from home and it is a question of trying to change the home form and, hopefully, this second home win will kick-start things.”
Man of the moment Fletcher was delighted to get back on the scoresheet for the first time since November, having battled to get into contention following a serious knee injury.
He slid the ball home in the 20th minute after Michael Coulson’s free-kick rebounded off the wall across to Russell Penn, who teed up Bradley Halliday for a low drive which the striker converted.
Fon Williams denied him a second before the break, but Fletcher made it 2-0 in the 58th minute, cutting in from the right past both centre-backs before firing beyond the diving Tranmere goalkeeper from the edge of the area.
Malvind Benning struck the left-hand post and Josh Carson the outside of the right as the ball rebounded to him and Fon Williams also denied Fletcher his hat-trick as York dominated, restricting the visitors to one shot on target, in stoppage time.
Of his goals, Fletcher said: “For the first, the ball was going wide but I knew Brads was not the best at shooting so I got myself in the box and luckily it just fell for me.
“For the second, we got to play in behind them and that’s what I’m best at. I was looking to pass it at first, but I sensed the opportunity to go a bit more central, saw the goal gaping and hit it with my left.
“It’s a massive boost to me and it has always been in my head that I had not scored but I am not one to shy away from it. I know I have to score goals and it has been frustrating.
“I don’t think it was a red card for Jake, but the ban was held up so I got the chance and was lucky to take it. The win has given everyone a big boost, but we have to keep going and show the same desire and I am sure we will be out of trouble.”
York City: Olejnik, McCoy, Lowe, Zubar, Benning; Halliday, Penn; Sinclair, Coulson, Carson (Meikle 87); Fletcher. Unused substitutes: Ilesanmi, McCombe, Montrose, Platt, Hirst, Ingham.
Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams, Holmes, Dugdale, McGahey, Taylor; Myrie-Williams (Molyneux 75), Power, Jennings, Donnelly; Hume (Kirby 67), Odejayi (Koumas 69). Unused substitutes: Ridehalgh, Laird, Brezovan, Thompson.
Referee: R Clark (Northumberland).