A draw without discipline?
Stevenage Boro 1 York City 1 THIS was a quite extraordinary 90 minutes and more of football. Three sending offs for desperate Boro, including manager Graham Westley being banished to the stands, suggests the home side completely lost their discipline. Thi
Stevenage Boro 1 York City 1
THIS was a quite extraordinary 90 minutes and more of football.
Three sending offs for desperate Boro, including manager Graham Westley being banished to the stands, suggests the home side completely lost their discipline.
This is true to a point but the performance of referee John Hopkins must also be called into serious question.
Darryn Stamp, Westley and skipper Jason Goodliffe all saw red for dissent on a heated afternoon at Broadhall Way.
While not condoning their actions, some of the decisions puzzled both teams in such a high-pressure game.
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Boro, needing all three points, pushed in the early stages against the visitors whose play-off aspirations had all but disappeared.
The lively Jon Nurse (twice) and Adam Miller tested out York keeper Chris Porter before Stamp received his first caution for persistent fouling.
Boro continued to threaten with Jefferson Louis denied by a vital block from James Dudgeon and Dino Maamria's weak finish straight at Porter after wing trickery from Nurse.
The first real flashpoint of the match came on 36 minutes although the ref had been over-fussy up to this point as well.
Nathan Peat's free-kick was flicked on by Dudgeon and Clayton Donaldson turned the ball home although he appeared to be offside.
Stamp went to argue the case with the assistant referee and was promptly shown a second yellow by Hopkins.
It seemed an unbelievable decision considering his assistant had not even been consulted and left Boro to play the remaining 50 minutes a goal down and with 10 men.
Westley had run down the touchline to protest and he was also sent to the stands to accompany Lionel Perez, his number two who was serving the second game of his two-match ban.
The scoring disadvantage lasted barely five minutes though. After Maamria's deflected shot was pushed behind, the resulting corner saw the ball run loose and Goodliffe absolutely buried it for an equaliser.
Boro had a chance to regroup at the break and certainly came out will all guns blazing. A Goodliffe header drifted wide, Nurse volleyed spectacularly over and Maamria missed the best chance when he fired over after a clever one-two with Louis.
York had generally offered little going forward but Alan Julian was at full stretch to save Neill Bishop's shot and then Joe O'Neill was flagged offside as he lunged to send the rebound against the post.
Boro had a massive escape when Ronnie Henry and Goodliffe both tried to chop down Donaldson in the area. The latter succeeded and it looked a cast-iron penalty but not to the referee.
Louis wasted a glorious opportunity, heading over when well placed, and he was soon replaced by Justin Gregory.
Ollie Berquez also came on for Nurse as the game looked to be winding down.
No fear as the passionate Goodliffe launched a volley of abuse at Jamie Price and the York physio as they took an age to leave the pitch following an injury.
With the crowd predicting a caution to be issued at worst, Hopkins produced another red to the incredulity of the Boro skipper.
The seven minutes of added time saw Boro push on despite their two-man numerical disadvantage.
Dudgeon, already booked, escaped censure for hoofing the ball away before the final dramatic moment of this incredible afternoon.
York broke forward and sub Mark Convery squared the ball across.
The Conference's top scorer Andy Bishop, quiet for most of the match, had only Julian to beat but the keeper produced a fabulous save.
Defeat would have ended any realistic Boro hopes of the play-offs but they live to fight another day.