Braintree Town 0 York City 1
We’ve made it! York City are in the Blue Square Premier play-offs and their dream of being promoted back to the league is alive and kicking.
Substitute Erik Tonne was the unlikely toast of York City as the visitors confirmed an end-of-season play-off place courtesy of his 75th minute winner at ten-man Braintree Town.
The on loan Norwegian kept his nerve to steer past goalkeeper Nathan McDonald from around fifteen-yards as the visitors’ pressure finally told with 15 minutes remaining.
Braintree had earlier been reduced to ten-men when striker Sean Marks was sent-off for simulation before York’s leading scorer Jason Walker missed an absolute sitter from only a couple of yards out.
Fellow striker Ashley Chambers had already headed a cross from full league debutant Michael Potts against the post.
But with the visitors needing a goal to guarantee themselves a play-off place, on-loan Sheffield United forward Tonne popped up with their winner only four minutes after his introduction.
The result means York also broke their club record of fewest away league defeats in a season – bettering their total of four in their promotion campaign of 1973-74.
The Minstermen were again forced to include goalkeeping coach Paul Musselwhite and he claimed a couple of early corners before Daniel Parslow appeared to take a nasty elbow from Braintree striker Sean Marks.
The visitors went desperately close on eighteen minutes as Potts supplied a cross from the right headed against the inside of an upright by Chambers and in turn hacked off the line.
Marks was then booked for a challenge on Challinor before Musselwhite was required to turn over a Billy Gibson cross and Adam Bailey-Dennis headed over from the subsequent corner.
Braintree were reduced to ten-men shortly before the half-hour when Musselwhite had to come out to clear an underhit backpass from Chris Smith and Marks fell under his challenge and was dismissed for simulation.
Skipper Smith soon had a shot blocked amidst handball claims after a foul on Walker, who almost got on the end of Matty Blair’s flick until Bailey-Dennis cleared.
Walker then missed an absolute sitter when firing against the underside of the crossbar from a couple of yards out after Blair’s cross had left goalkeeper Nathan McDonald stranded.
Jamal Fyfield also had a soaring cross towards the back post gratefully clasped by McDonald, while Potts thumped a late 30-yard effort straight into his midriff just before the interval.
Chambers laid off a Walker pass and Potts drilled narrowly over from fifteen-yards after a rather slow start to the second-half.
Braintree keeper McDonald then claimed a low Chambers shot before beating away from Jon Challinor at his near post and also gathering at the second attempt from the subsequent corner.
Challinor was becoming increasingly influential as the hosts were again stretched and his shot was soon parried by McDonald.
York were continuing to dominate without finding the final ball, although Walker’s excellent cross narrowly evaded Chambers and Blair, who also had a cross parried by the under pressure McDonald.
His opposite number Musselwhite easily dealt with Gibson’s drive at the other end before Walker’s shot was deflected behind and James Meredith hoisted over as the visitors still chased the breakthrough.
Blair cut inside and his shot was blocked for another corner before the goal finally arrived with just fifteen minutes remaining.
Good work from the visitors ended with Walker sliding across a pass and Tonne arriving ahead of keeper McDonald to steer into the net from around fifteen-yards – directly in front of the numerous York fans behind the same goal.
Chambers was next with another effort fended off by McDonald while Bailey-Dennins headed onto the roof of the net following a corner at the opposite end.
Back came the visitors with Walker twice having attempts wide of the mark, Challinor drilling wide of the near post and then crossing for Potts to shoot straight at the keeper.
Braintree Town: McDonald, Bailey-Dennis, Paine, O’Connor, Wells, Reason (Symons 80), Davis, Gibson (Guy 90), Peters (Quinton 80), Marks, Wright
Subs (unused): Haxell, Pooley
York City: Musselwhite, Challinor, Parslow, Smith, Fyfield, Meredith, Potts, McLaughlin (Tonne 71), Blair, Walker (Ashikodi 90), Chambers (Brown 82)
Subs (unused): Reed, Blinkhorn
Goals: Tonne (75)
Referee: S. Martin
Read more: VitalFootball.co.uk