York City. . . . . .1
(aet; York win 5-3 on pens)
FOR THE third year in succession the basement play-off was settled by penalties, the artificial conclusion contrasting strikingly with the natural fluency of the football that had preceded it. After Wednesday's woes, jubilant Yorkshire voices were at last heard beneath the Twin Towers when Dean Kiely, the York City keeper, saved Crewe Alexandra's third penalty from Gareth Whalley and Wayne Hall made the most of York's advantage to lift them into the Second Division.
The rain descended after the denouement but nothing could dampen the Minster men's high spirits as their hordes of supporters - who, like Crewe, were making their debut at the national HQ - queued to have their picture taken before the stadium.
As well as Crewe played, York narrowly deserved their win. They were twice denied by the woodwork but still appeared to have secured promotion in extra time through Gary Swann. However, a handball by Steve Tutill a minute from full-time allowed Dave McKearey to equalise and ensured more drama.
The victory was a personal triumph for the York manager, Alan Little. His only previous experience of Wembley had occurred in 1972 when he carried out Aston Villa's flag before the centenary FA Cup final; but yesterday was his real flag day. Little, whose brother Brian seeks similar Wembley success with Leicester tomorrow, said: 'It was a pity only one of the teams could go up.'
York, who were never out of the top four all season, could have settled the game in regulation time but for the agility of Crewe's keeper, Mark Smith, and the hostility of the goal-frames. Tony Canham was the first to touch wood, the York midfielder intercepting Neil Lennon's under-hit pass before curling a delightful right-foot shot around Smith but on to the bar. His team-mate Jon McCarthy also hit a post after one of a series of lengthy dribbles from the half-way line.
Crewe had their chances from an early McKearney lob and an acrobatic Tony Naylor strike, which ended in the net but was disallowed for offside by the faultless Allan Gunn.
The final had everything but the goal until the 14th minute of extra time. Paul Barnes squeezed the ball through to Swann whose low drive did the rest. Swann clearly times his goals well - his first for his home town club took them to Wembley by defeating Bury in the semi finals. His second nearly settled the final.
But then it was Tut-Tut Tutill time, McKearney's punishing penalty serving to prolong the tension. After a season spanning 287 days two clubs' hopes came down to a five-minute finale. Kiely stood firm and York, who had spent the morning practising spot kicks, then delivered.
Crewe Alexandra: M Smith; D McKearney, S Smith, S Evans, D Carr, G Whalley, A Ward, T Naylor, N Lennon, S Walters (P Clarkson, 104 min), R Edwards (A Woodward, 70 min). Manager: D Gradi.
York City: D Kiely; A McMillan, W Hall, N Pepper, P Stancliffe (S Tutill, 107 min), P Atkin, J McCarthy, T Canham, P Barnes, G Swann, I Blackstone. Sub not used: J Borthwick. Manager: A Little.
Referee: A Gunn (South Chailey, Sussex).
Goals: Swann (0-1, 104 min); McKearney pen (1-1, 119 min).