York City 3-1 Darlington: City produce another rampant goalscoring display
Mitch Hancox and Kurt Willoughby celebrate (Photo: Tom Poole)

Two playoff battling rivals fought out a well deserved victory for York City who sent Darlington home empty-handed, for the second time this season!

Two goals in the space of two minutes sealed it for The Minstermen with Kurt Willoughby and Mitch Hancox getting on the scoresheet, before Clayton Donaldson added a late penalty to the tally at the LNER Community Stadium.

Cameron Thompson's goal in the final minute seemed to be way too late for The Quakers and was the most the visiting side could produce all evening.

  • Teams

York City: Jameson, Duckworth, Wright, Kouogun, Barrow, Greaves, McLaughlin (C), Hancox, Dyson, John-Lewis, Willoughby

Darlington: Taylor, Hedley, Hatfield, Rivers, Cassidy, Dos Santos, Lawlor, Purver, Griffiths, Thompson, Wheater

  • Story of the match

All the early pressure came from Darlington who looked the better side to begin with. However it took seven minutes for their first real chance - a combination between Will Hatfield and Kevin Dos Santos ended in Dos Santos skying a shot well over the bar.

Then it was time for former-York striker Jake Cassidy to try a brave effort from over 20 yards out. His shot came closer than expected, with it flying just over the crossbar.

A third of the way through the first half, York's Kurt Willoughby almost broke the deadlock after some Darlington domination. AJ Greaves won the ball back well, leaving Kurt Willoughby to try his signature curling shot, just missing out on the top corner.

City slowly began to ease into the game, having another chance, this time from a corner. Akil Wright headed the ball back into the middle where Mitch Hancox probably should have scored from in front of goal. 

26 minutes in, Akil Wright was in the action again. Wright's poor pass gave the ball away to a Darlington man and nearly resulted in a goal for the visitors.

However, it seemed to be just a blip as The Minstermen regained momentum again. Lenell John-Lewis took on a vicious half-volley which was brilliantly saved by a strong Tommy Taylor in the Quakers goal.

It had already been clear that referee Dane McCarrick had taken a strong dislike to the hosts right from the very first decision, but an alleged Darlington handball in the area, was also not given as a York penalty, despite the majority of the crowd spotting it.

Straight after the seemingly awful decision, Hancox and John-Lewis tried to make some great link up play count. It ended in Hancox's effort being smothered by the Quakers 'keeper.

The second half started just as the first half did - Darlington pressure. Jarrett Rivers was at the driving force of a break for the away side, laying it off to Cassidy who smashed it against the top of the crossbar.

And then York City took the game by the scruff of the neck, also just like the first period. The deadlock was soon broken with just over 20 minutes left to play. Kurt Willoughby swung in a cross which drifted past everyone, past Taylor, and surprisingly, into the back of the net!

Less than a minute later, in-form Mitch Hancox doubled the lead for The Minstermen. He was played in on goal, in an arguably offside position, and calmly finished past Taylor to double the lead for the hosts.

The referee probably made the biggest decision of the game in the 78th minute and it was a penalty that went York City's way. The reliable Clayton Donaldson stepped up and sent the 'keeper the right way but he couldn't get anything on it to prevent The Don's penalty from flying into the net. In anger, Taylor took his aggression out on a pitch-invading City fan.

York were just 15 seconds away from claiming all three points and a clean sheet, however the clean sheet was removed, thanks to a late consolation goal from Cameron Thompson, who cut inside and lifted it over Pete Jameson to reduce the deficit.

 

  • Takeaways

York City extend unbeaten run to nine games

A huge win for York took their unbeaten run to nine consecutive matches - the last time this happened was back in the 2019/20 season when The Minstermen were denied promotion by points per game.

Keeping the focus on this season, the result means City remain in 7th place, however they are now sitting two points below 6th, with a game in hand.

The next game for The Minstermen is on Saturday - it's a huge Buildbase FA Trophy Quarter Final tie away at Dagenham and Redbridge.

Quakers lose winning streak

With the chance to make it four straight wins away at a strong York side, Darlington were only capable of a late consolation goal, conceding three against their old rivals.

Playoffs are still a slight possibility for Darlington but they are slowly drifting further and further away - they now sit 6 points away from York in that 7th place.

However, Darlo look to continue their playoff charge on Saturday when they travel to promotion rivals Hereford.

  • Star Man

Maxim Kouogun

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