Keane delivers on an old promise

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The Independent Football

Ten days ago, York City beat MUFC 1-0. A crowd of 201 watched. Yesterday they were turned over by MUFC. A crowd of 9,003 watched.

Ten days ago, York City beat MUFC 1-0. A crowd of 201 watched. Yesterday they were turned over by MUFC. A crowd of 9,003 watched.

The lure of Manchester United, the Premier League champions replete with stars is clearly greater than the pull of Marske United from the Northern League, although Alex Ferguson will probably feel more drawn towards Shrewsbury today where Jesper Blomqvist and Wes Brown are expected to play their first games after missing all last season.

This game was agreed five years ago when Sir Alex Ferguson was so impressed by York's young goalkeeper, Nick Culkin, that he bought him after the Minstermen's 3-0 win at Old Trafford in a first leg Coca-Cola cup tie. The deal enabled York to build a training ground and a promise that if Culkin made his debut in the Premiership, United would pay Bootham Crescent a visit.

Early last season, in the last minute at Highbury, Raimond van der Gouw collected a facial injury and Culkin had his 60 seconds of fame - time enough to take a goalkick and earn his former club a lucrative match. After scaling such heights, Culkin, now 22, is starting a season's loan at Second Division Bristol Rovers.

Denis Irwin, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs played in that 1995 embarrassment - and were reminded of it when a local radio commentary was replayed just before kick-off - and took part in yesterday's entertainment. Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Gary Neville were also in action again on the ground where five years earlier they had won the second leg 3-1 but lost the tie on aggregate.

Perhaps, though, they should have been more mindful of another embarrassment. In 1996, Graham Potter was a substitute for Southampton on a grey day at The Dell when United's shirts caused them to lose 6-3. Just signed on a free from West Bromwich Albion, in the eighth minute Potter created the first chance of a half-pace game. He lobbed a cross from the left and Darren Edmondson's low volley required sharp intervention from Van der Gouw at the foot of the post.

It was one of several openings that fell to York who attacked with the overenthusiasm of schoolboys in the annual game against the masters. In contrast, Scholes peppered York's goal at will, Giggs produced moments of genius and Beckham lazily lobbed the entire York team from inside his own half to Dwight Yorke at the corner flag.

Keane, as ever, was keen. Twice in the first half he blasted powerfully at York keeper Alan Fettis and in the 52nd minute he scored from the rebound. On the hour, from a tight angle, Keane got the second.

None of the United stars sustained an injury and it was York who were suffering physically. In the 15th minute, Gary Hobson, signed from Chester, bought Yorke's feint so completely he twisted his ankle in the turf and was unable to continue after half-time.