|York City 4||Scunthorpe United 1|
This is proving to be an extraordinary season for York City and their long-suffering supporters. There have been highs (Portsmouth at home, Torquay away and last night’s blistering display) and there have been lows (Wimbledon at home, Newport away and Fleetwood at home on Saturday).
No one knows what’s coming next and, after the deeply disappointing display against Fleetwood, when City were comprehensively outplayed, last night was completely unexpected. But it was hugely enjoyable, all the same.
During more than 45 years of supporting York City, I cannot remember such a brilliant first 45 minutes, underscored by four splendid goals – the last of which, a sweetly-struck volley by the amazing Ryan Brobbel, was right up there with Jason Walker’s legendary overhead kick against Grimsby a couple of seasons ago.
The other three goals were pretty sensational too, sending City fans into dreamland.
Thankfully Nigel Worthington reverted to 4-4-2 (or, more accurately 4-2-4) last night, after his tactical clanger of playing one striker against Fleetwood and City were on the front foot from the start.
Josh Carson, who has been consistently outstanding since he joined the club from Ipswich, opened the scoring after only two minutes, when his well-struck 20-yard shot took a deflection and beat the helpless Scunthorpe keeper Sam Slocombe.
City’s second goal was even better, when the resourceful Wes Fletcher, the pick of City’s strikers this season, surged into the penalty area on the right and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the left hand corner of the goal from the tightest of angles.
On most other days, it would have been the goal of the game. Scunthorpe were being blown away.
Ryan Brobbel, one of the few bright sparks against Fleetwood and a scintillating exponent of old-fashioned wing play, then moved to centre stage. Fed by Fletcher, he neatly side-stepped two groping defenders in the box before curling a right-foot shot into the roof of the net.
Twenty-one minutes gone – and City were 3-0 up. Could this really be happening? Indeed it could. Bootham Crescent was a sea of happy faces, savouring a very special night.
Brobbel then ensured it would be an unforgettable one as he volleyed Luke O’Neill’s hard-hit right-wing cross into the top left-hand corner of the goal. It was one of the great York goals, demonstrating amazing technique and confidence, and it capped a magnificent 45 minutes.
Inevitably the second half was something of an anti-climax, with Scunthorpe scoring early on, but City continued to battle, refusing to allow those first 45 minutes go to waste.
There was time for Lewis Montrose, a powerhouse in midfield along with the tireless Elliott Whitehouse, to hit the post from 30 yards, and for City to miss another couple of chances.
But Scunthorpe, to their credit, battled hard and never gave up. It was a grim day for the Lincolnshire town, with the announcement earlier that hundreds of jobs would be lost with the closure of the Tata steel plant.
It would be foolish to get carried away by this performance, but we can still savour it.
There are problems in central defence, where Chris Smith looked especially rusty in the absence of both David McGurk and Tom Allen, and Worthington has yet to work out what his best striking partnership is (hint – it must include Fletcher).
There is also an injury to Josh Carson, which is worrying. And, crucially, we have no idea which version of this Jekyll-and-Hyde York City side will turn up at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Nevertheless, as City near the end of their days at our beloved Bootham Crescent, last night’s first 45 minutes will be forever part of Crescent folklore.
You had to be there to believe it and some of us who were there still can’t quite believe it.