YORK CITY 1-1 BURTON ALBIONAdam McGurk gave himself the perfect 26th birthday present with an 88th minute equaliser to grab a more than deserved point from Burton Albion's visit to York City. The Brewers looked to be heading for just their second defeat under manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink when debutant Emile Sinclair poked home a scrappy goal for the hosts with just twenty minutes left but the mercurial Irishman conjured up a precise finish as the clock ran down to extend Albion's unbeaten run to eight games and still within a point of the lead of League 2.
McGurk, on as a second half substitute for Matty Palmer on the left hand side of midfield jinked past a challenge and from the edge of the box curled a right foot effort towards the far post, hoping for a final touch from an onrushing team mate but with keeper Bobby Olejnik unsighted, the ball evaded everyone and nestled inside the post.
Albion went into the game with an unchanged side, the fourth game in a row that Hasselbaink has started with the same eleven. The only change was on the substitutes bench where Ian Sharps returned to the matchday eighteen in place of Stefan Maletic.
York responded to last weekend's 2-0 home defeat to Stevenage with two debutants in their line up, Mal Benning on loan from Walsall coming into the defence and striker Sinclair joining Jake Hyde in attack after his midweek move from Northampton Town.
It was Sinclair who gave Albion an early scare as they made heavy weather of clearing a hopeful cross into the box. Benning retrieved the situation on the left and when his cross was helped into the path of the former Forest youngster he turned and fired in a shot that Jon McLaughlin did well to get across and push wide of the post.
The Brewers were somewhat slow out of the blocks as York went in search of just their second home win of a disappointing campaign. Matty Palmer tried to make the most of a good free kick opportunity but after getting a flick on at the edge of the box Albion only won a corner for their efforts.
Sinclair was proving something of a handful and his flick on fell nicely for Jake Hyde as George Taft slipped but from an acute angle his low shot hit the legs of McLaughlin who stood tall. A corner from Michael Coulson caused Burton some problems and after the ball had pinged around inside the box it came out for Luke Summerfield who failed to trouble the keeper with a somewhat wayward shot.
Sinclair kept McLaughlin on his toes with a curling 22 yard shot that the Albion stopper had to watch carefully go over his bar before Albion began to come back into the game more.
Stuart Beavon worked hard to win possession and fed Jacob Blyth to his left but having shrugged off the attentions of his marker the Leicester loanee could only fire wide from the edge of the box.
On 35 minutes skipper John Mousinho made a rare foray out of defence and found Kelvin Maynard with an accurate pass and he in turn helped to set Beavon free down the right. Bursting into the box he crossed low into the six yard box where Blyth was only denied a sixth goal of the season by a smart save from Olejnik at close range.
Maynard then appeared to get a whack in the back from Benning as they tussled for the ball and once physio Nick Fenton had signalled that the Dutch midfielder could no longer continue and Lucas Akins was brought on for the closing five minutes of the first period.
Taft, facing his former side, picked up a yellow card for a rash challenge on Michael Coulson by the touchline but York were unable to capitalise.
Matty Palmer picked up a knock on the stroke of half time and it was questionable whether the youngster would reappear for the second period as Fenton helped him from the pitch as referee Ben Toner brought the first half to a close.
Half time: York City 0-0 Burton Albion
McGurk replaced Palmer after the youngster tried, but failed, to run off his first half injury during the break and immediately slotted in on the left hand side.
Taft was adjudged to have fouled Hyde as the striker looked to break clear and having already picked up a booking towards the end of the first half, the former Minstermen loanee was on something of a disciplinary tightrope with referee Toner for the rest of the half. The resulting free kick was aimed towards commanding defender John McCombe but he could not divert his header on target.
Albion began to pick up the tempo and when Beavon's industry blocked an attempted clearance the loose ball fell kindly for Blyth who blasted his shot wide.
With Akins and McGurk in the wide positions Albion began to look more threatening in attack and a good chance went begging when McGurk aimed a shot from the edge of the area towards the far post. His shot was going wide but Blyth was on hand at the far post but well placed he scooped the ball over the crossbar with Olejnik beaten.
Beavon also picked up a yellow card after trying to trick his way into the box and putting in a slightly over eager challenge on McCombe in an attempt to win the ball back.
Back came York and after Sinclair's direct running had forced Albion to concede a corner that Luke Summerfield headed wide at the near post the home side turned defence into attack, from a Burton corner, to go as close as anything to taking the lead. A swift counter found Jake Hyde chasing down a diagonal ball that had Albion's defence exposed and only McLaughlin, haring out to the edge of his area, kept Albion's clean sheet in tact with a vitally timed challenge.
McGurk was penalised for a foul on Penn with twenty minutes to play and Albion were punished with Sinclair opening his York account. The free kick was played short to Coulson and he had plenty of time to deliver a teasing cross into the centre that was headed back across goal by Hyde. McLaughlin got a hand on the ball but it came loose and eventually the former Cobblers man had a simple task to poke home.
That gave Albion just twenty minutes to rescue the game but they were almost two down six minutes later as Coulson found room for a rising shot that McLaughlin did superbly well to turn over the bar.
With Dominic Knowles now on for Beavon, Albion had fresh legs in attack but York missed another chance to extend their lead, Taft allowing a long punt downfield by Olejnik to bounce giving substitute Wes Fletcher a good chance but again the Brewers goalkeeper was equal to it, getting down well to save.
Albion took heart from York's inabillity to find a second goal and made them pay with two minutes left. McGurk started the move down the left with a ball inside the full back for Damien McCrory to run on to. His low cross was kept alive by Knowles and the two of them were able to work the ball back inside to McGURK. Slipping past a desperate challenge on the edge of the box he used his weaker right foot to put a hopeful ball to the back post and watched gleefully as it went in.
Had there been longer left Albion might have gone on to snatch a winner but it finished honours even, a result that probably neither side was entirely happy with but which keeps Albion in the promotion hunt and York just clear of danger.