York City take on Altrincham in play off game

It was Tom Peers’ third goal against the Minster men this season that sealed a 0-2 win for Altrincham as they dashed City’s play off hopes as the curtain came down on what was a miserable way to end the season at an empty Bootham Crescent. The fact that this could have been the last competitive fixture before York move to the new Community Stadium made the occasion that extra bit sadness with nothing to celebrate after was a very lack lustre performance.

Question marks were over a lot of the players performances today but the game could have told a different story in the first five minutes when Alex Kempster, a player who has had a share of the goals throughout the season, completely miss hit his strike as it bounced up right in front of him with a clear opportunity on goal and that set the tone for the rest of the game.

It was a tight first half with chances for both sides but it was only a few minutes later when a free kick gifted to Altrincham resulted in their first goal of the game. Former City player Elliott Durrell’s free kick found Josh Hancock at the far post after poor defensive judgement from Adam Buxton allowed him to hit the ball which bobbled under Peter Jameson.

The first half seemed to pass some players by but for the likes of Kallum Griffiths and David Ferguson, they took their opportunities to get forward on every occasion as they caused all kinds of problems for the visitors, it was sadly a lack of end product from players around them where that really let City down with an issue that has been far too common this season with poor positioning and forwards not getting into the correct areas and quite frankly even before PPG came into play that has cost us finishing the season being crowned as champions.

It was the aforementioned Griffiths who then minutes later found himself in a position on the edge of the Altrincham area when he struck a long range effort that looked to be heading on goal but Josh Lundstram launched himself in front of the ball with a great block to deny his effort.

Again Griffiths was involved in yet another effort along with some neat passing moves which he put in a great ball to the far post only to be cleared as far as Newton who came extremely close with a long range effort striking against the corner of the woodwork to be again denied.

It was Durrell’s turn to have a chance as Altrincham once again played some great build up play as they had continued to do throughout the first half as he fired a fizzing shot just wide of Peter Jameson’s right hand post. It wasn’t’ the last time we saw chances for to Durrell as he was a constant threat throughout the game and time and time again managed to create chances for the Robins. A player City clearly just couldn’t find room for during his unsuccessful spell with the club in the first part of the season.

Another chance and what was a rare mistake from captain Steve McNulty after he tussled with Altrincham’s Hulme as he managed to get the better of the former Tranmere player Hulme turned a got his shot away but only managed to fire it wide from what was a tight angle which came just before half time. It was a moment in the game that probably captured McNulty’s performance on the day, never really looking match fit and off the pace of the game throughout.

City probably couldn’t wait for the first half to end, the second half started very similar for York as they started brightly with good chances to equalise including a chance from Ferguson who drilled it just wide of the goal and then Burrow a little later on who squandered probably City’s best chance of the second half should have seen City level and yet again Altrincham punished again for poor finishing as substitute Tom Peers scored his third goal at Bootham Crescent this season having scored both the winners in the other two previous outings here.

Steve Watson used his substitutes wisely bringing on all his attacking players at his disposal with Maguire and Langstaff making substitute appearances along but it just wasn’t to be this season as yet again Altrincham came away as victors to play in the final next weekend. Andy Bond’s shot from the edge of the area just summed up the game for York as he well and truly skied over the bar into the Shipton Street housing estate.

For City now its a case of going again next season. It was clear to see the extra game for Altrincham against Chester last weekend was of huge benefit to them in this game. Questions of fitness over a number of the City side as well as the question of Altrincham looking like they really wanted this more.

Overall it was a poor display and yet again another season in National League North beckons when the season of course is safe to resume in September. Steve Watson now has a lot of questions to ask his players and to pinpoint the areas where it went wrong. Only three players are contracted for next season and after that performance it feels as though that it should have made Watson’s decisions a whole lot easier. Improvements particularly, maybe even overhauls in the midfield, an area crying out for a few years now and a clinical centre forward the key areas needing addressing if the team are to get out of this division next year.