2013/14: Sky Bet League Two: York City v Accrington Stanley

Football is all about routine for fans and this Saturday that seemed to resonant even more than usual as games up and down the country were involved in marking the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.

With my son back from University we took the opportunity to get to a game together. So it was great to take the train from Leeds and pass the time catching up on his ‘new’ life as a student and some football talk. The conversation continued as we blended into the background with the tourists in York city centre en-route to Bootham Crescent.

With programmes purchased, we dropped into the ‘Pitchside Bar’ at the ground and enjoyed a couple of pints as QPR v Nottingham Forest played out on the big-screens in the background.  There was a great ‘buzz’ in the bar as home fans mingled with those from visitors Accrington Stanley – York fans hoping for a home win that would keep their play-off hopes alive, whilst Stanley fans were looking for a result which would go towards ensuring their Football League survival.

With kick-off creeping nearer it was time to go into the ground. We opted to stand in the away end and within minutes of entering the terrace were getting something to eat. I’ve watched football for forty two years, but today I enjoyed the best pie at a game – so a special mention to Wrights pies of Crewe – Chicken Balti, absolutely fantastic.

As a mark of respect for the 96 who died at Hillsborough, kick-off here and across the country was delayed to 3.07. The reasoning behind this was that at 3.06 in 1989 the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup Semi-Final was stopped and with a minutes silence observed today, this would take kick-off to 3.07. At Bootham Crescent, the mark of respect was met with an impeccable silence; the only sound to be heard was the chorus of birds in the trees behind the Popular Stand.

Then a blast from the official’s whistle and the normal match-day sounds resumed.

League Two has been a keenly contested division this season and has meant that there hasn’t been much to differentiate between sides chancing a play-off spot and those trying to avoid the relegation spots. So it proved today, York were unbeaten in twelve games (their last loss being in the final week of January), whilst Accrington had won four in their last twelve, but had lost to relegation threatened Northampton last weekend.

Stanley were not overawed by their hosts and in the first-half had chances through Luke Joyce, Piero Mingoia and Kayode Odejayi, in a battling display during the opening forty five minutes. The Minstermen though created their own fair share of opportunities with Ryan Brobbel, John McCombe and Calvin Andrew going close for York. However, it remained 0-0 at the break.

York came out stronger in the second-half and were rewarded just after the hour, when Odejayi was perhaps a little unlucky to be penalised for handball in the area. Michael Coulson converted from the spot and City had the lead. Accrington though didn’t buckle and continued to put York under pressure with good chances falling to Naismith and Odejayi. York though should have killed off the game when Calvin Andrew could not apply a touch to Will Hayhurst’s cross.

With the fourth official signalling four minutes of time added on, fans of both clubs started to drift away. Those that did missed the Stanley equaliser. From Lee Molyneux’s corner, City keeper Pope misjudged the flight of the ball and Shay McCartan had an easy header into the goal. The home fans were silenced and it nearly got worse, when in the last minute Pope saved from Naismith to ensure that the game ended 1-1.  Accrington though deserved their point. It could prove to be a costly result for York, as they dropped out of the play-off spots, with four games remaining.

With the game over it was time to make our way back to the railway station. There was however time for a pint and idle chat about the game and results across the country.

As football fans we perhaps take for granted our own match-day routines – the people we go with, the places we meet, the banter, the beers, the high and lows. And like life itself, we shouldn’t – instead we should stop and consider how lucky we are.

25 years ago, fans set out on a sunny day in April to attend a game at Hillsborough, 96 didn’t return, never again to enjoy another match-day.

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Posted April 15, 2014 by Editor in category "Football Features

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