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York beat Chorley to reach play-off semis

Henry Howard's match report as York City edged past Chorley in their crucial playoff tie

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York City 2–1 Chorley

BY HENRY HOWARD

York City kept their dreams of promotion alive after a cagey affair with Chorley ended 2-1 to York in front of a joyful yet unruly crowd, setting up an away tie with Brackley Town on Saturday.

As the shadows lengthened, the sense of occasion in the city could not be ignored. Queues of expectant fans swarmed the ground, brimming with both confidence and continental lager. An incredible 6,394 would be in attendance.

Despite a nervy opening, it was City who struck first with a beautifully taken goal by Lenell John-Lewis. A probing ball down the left from Sam Sanders was misjudged by the Chorley defence, setting the loanee through one-on-one with Matt Urwin. Noticing the keeper off his line, the onrushing forward deftly lobbed the ball into the vacant net, with the stiff evening breeze perhaps claiming the assist. Elation poured onto the pitch from the three home stands.

Chorley, unbowed by the deficit, were more than deserving to equalise a mere 15 minutes later. A free-kick from an unnecessary Scott Barrow foul was angled forward, flicked on, and stabbed in at the far post by an unguarded Connor Hall. The Lancastrian’s celebratory flares compensated for the somewhat lacklustre away support. Though quickly extinguished, they proved incendiary in the tense atmosphere, nonetheless.

Only a brilliant acrobatic save from Urwin would keep the scores level at the break. A searching cross from Mitch Hancox found the onrushing Jack McKay on the edge of the area who nailed a fervorous half volley towards the top corner. The Chorley No 1 desperately scrambled to his left before pulling off a save he had no right to make, even garnering some reluctant appreciation from an increasingly incensed South Stand.

Just 4 minutes into the second half Hancox broke the deadlock after capitalising on a woeful Urwin error, undoing his heroics from the first period. In his haste to clear, the usually assured Blackpool native misjudged a Maziar Kouhyar through ball, leaving Hancox with an open goal, who regardless of the acute angle tucked it away for his 11th of the season. The stadium erupted as fans streamed back into their seats from the bar below, cursing the cruel mistress that a half-time queue so often is.

Though both teams threatened, the last 40 was sparse of clear-cut chances. With time all but up Jack Sampson had a golden opportunity to equalise for the visitors at the far post, only to steer his free header low and wide.

Deep into added time, the organised regiment that had been the South Stand descended into jubilant juvenile chaos. Scores of young lads, pre-empting the final whistle on two separate occasions, rushed onto the pitch before turning and fleeing once realising the error of their ways. However, such a mistake would be forgiven as there was far too much excitement in the last hour and a half for a school night.

When the whistle did finally go, the full-scale invasion started in earnest. The stewards, who had long since deserted their posts, watched on, resigned to their fate.

York will face Brackley Town in the play-off semi-finals this coming Saturday at 3 PM at St. James Park.

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