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Match Reports

York City preview

16 May 2014

We are off to Wembley!

Fleetwood Town reached the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final at Wembley thanks to an aggregate 1-0 victory against York City over two legs in the semi-final.

The second leg at Highbury Stadium finished goalless between the two sides, but Matty Blair’s second-half tap-in at Bootham Crescent in the first leg proved to be the decisive moment in the tie.

There were chances for either side in the second leg to score a crucial goal, but Fleetwood held on reach Wembley for the first time since the 1985 FA Vase Cup Final.

Town boss Graham Alexander named the same side which beat the Minstermen 1-0 in the rearranged first leg at Bootham Crescent on Monday night, while Alan Goodall returned to the bench following a three-match suspension.

On the other hand, York manager Nigel Worthington made one change, replacing Ryan Brobbel with striker Ryan Bowman.

The teams entered to an electric atmosphere at a sold-out, 5,194-strong crowd at Highbury, and it was Fleetwood who went closest first in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Attacking the Percy Ronson stand in the first half, Josh Morris linked up with David Ball on the left before the former collected the ball inside the box and fired whiskers over Nick Pope’s crossbar.

At the other end, Michael Coulson’s corner found the head of Keith Lowe who nodded it forwards before Russ Penn eventually hooked over in a lively opening five minutes.

The visitors started strongly, and Town captain Mark Roberts was forced to dive in and block Adam Reed’s shot at the near post when the midfielder found a gap.

Chances were few and far between for Town in the first half, but one fell when Morris picked up a loose pass on the left before lifting his head to find Iain Hume at the far post, who smashed over on the half-volley with 13 minutes gone.

Chances arrived for either side, and the best of the opening period arguably fell to York when Coulson had time to pick his spot on the edge of the box before his strike was beaten away by Town goalkeeper Chris Maxwell.

There was also an opportunity for Calvin Andrew to level the tie for York, but he guided a header from Ben Davies’ cross over the bar when free inside the box.

Conor McLaughlin, Roberts and Antoni Sarcevic were all booked in the first period when Fleetwood were on the back foot.

A moment of danger also came when Will Hayhurst’s corner from the left caused an almighty scramble in the six-yard box, but Nathan Pond eventually headed away to safety.

However, there were two chances for Town in four minutes of first-half added time.

First, Steven Schumacher’s free-kick from the right glanced off the head of Pond in the centre before the ball flicked just wide off defensive partner Roberts.

Schumacher also had a strike when Morris pulled the ball back, but the midfielder scooped over and it remained goalless at the break.

Town attacked a packed-out Memorial stand full of Cod Army fans upon the restart, looking to pinch an important second goal in the tie.

They came close when Sarcevic flicked over a header from Morris’ corner at the near post.

There was then a chance for either side around the hour mark, with Reed just unable to connect fully with Hayhurst’s cross from the left for York.

At the other end, Sarcevic skipped past two challenges and pulled the ball back for the unmarked Morris on the edge of the Minstermen’s box, but the midfielder prodded the ball fiercely wide. 

Alexander introduced striker Jon Parkin with less than half an hour to go, knowing a goal could effectively finish the Minstermen off.

At one moment, Blair, the scorer in the first leg, broke in behind York left-back Davies and drove along the byline, but there was nobody there to meet his cross.

Sarcevic then drove into the left side of the area and forced a low, one-handed save from Pope when he fired across goal, with Pond then heading over the resulting corner from Morris.

It was a tense ending to the game as Town looked to hold on, with Andrew driving over from long range for York.

Alexander threw on defender Ryan Cresswell alongside sponsors’ man-of-the-match Pond as the Cod Army looked to hold onto their one-goal advantage in the tie.

Defender Charlie Taylor drove whiskers past the far post with two minutes of normal time left, while Ball was unable to pick out an open goal when York goalkeeper Pope went up for a late corner.

Maxwell also needed to hold on to a late drive from Hayhurst, while Morris was denied by Pope one-on-one when sent clean through by Parkin at the other end.  

None of the chances were to matter in the end though, as Fleetwood held on to reach the Play-Off final at Wembley on May 26 for the chance to play in the third tier of English football, League One, next season.

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