Both sides had chances to win it in the final half-hour – most anxiously former York defender Femi Ilesanmi after bursting through – but the fact it was Nathan Ashmore who had to pull off two tremendous saves was something the Minstermen could take heart, if not all three points from.
As it was, goals from Dipo Akinyemi and Quevin Castro – two of three changes on the new manager's first team-sheet – at least got them one.
Castro scored his deflected goal as Alex Hurst was stood on the touchline ready to replace him Sometimes you just need a bit of luck.
But you need to be able to defend well too, and the Minstermen were too generous to allow Lee Ndlovu – who despite being a fellow Zimbabwean striker is no relation to former Coventry City player Peter – to score twice.
Tyler Cordner was the culprit for the second equaliser having done brilliantly very late in a drawn-out opening period to prevent a first.
Clearly Ardley has work on his hands, but he would not have got the job otherwise. There were signs, though, that he has tools to work with and now a modicum of momentum.
Wood had two chances from throw-ins – Ndlovu shooting wide from a long throw, Tom Whelan hitting a bouncing ball off target from a much shorter one – shortly before Akinyemi made the breakthrough.
Olly Dyson – another back in the side – had been dropping into a position just in front of the defence down the inside-right channel to ping some eye-catching passes and York's opening goal was made there, but this time it was winger Kai Kennedy coming off the flank to play a ball inside the left-back for Ryan Fallowfield galloping on the overlap.
For the second time running fomer Harrogate Town right-back Fallowfield picked out a man in space at the back post but whereas Ashmore had been able to save once Castro got the ball under control, Akinyemi put it past him.
A change of manager had created a good mood at kick-off, not dampened by the point Southend United took at Halifax Town to drop the Minstermen to the bottom of the table, the hot weather or the annual minute's silence for David Longhurst, 23 years and a day after he died playing for York against Lincoln City.
The home players looked hungry too, Dyson rattling into an early tackle and Callum Howe winning his headers impressively.
Even so, Wood were the more dangerous, so it was a relief when Akinyemi found the net.
The visitors were undeterred, Tyrone Marsh hitting a free-kick into the sturdy wall and Ndlovu heading straight at Ryan Whitley.
Ardley's former Solihull Moors player Tom Whelan looked the biggest threat in the hole and when Castro slipped, he shot wide. Whitley would deal unconvincingly with a Whelan shot in the 10th added minute of the half, Billy Sass-Davies heading wide from the corner.
By then we had witnessed a couple of unusual moments, starting with Ashmore casually catching the ball about eight yards out.
Akinyemi pounced on the ball to take a free-kick before the goalkeeper could get back into his goal but fell straight to the ground. In punishing heat, thank God it was nothing on the scale of Longhurst's heart attack, although the striker needed treatment to his foot after blasting the kick over.
Then we had a six-minute delay when one of the linesmen got something in his eye and had to go to the dressing room to sort himself it out, stretching the first half to 59 minutes.
City could have conceded in the last of them, Cordner clearing off his line after an unconvincing Whitley punch from the latest Chris Bush long throw-in.
The game restarted with York twice getting in behind down the inside-left channel but Maz Kouhyar shot wide, Akinyemi at the goalkeeper, and the hosts paid the price.
They gave the ball away cheaply in midfield and Bush threaded a lovely ball for Ndlovu to finish as coolly as was possible in the searing heat.
Castro's goal was hardly a thing of beauty, pouncing on a second ball in the penalty area, but was celebrated like on regardless, restoring the lead in the 63rd minute.
But they soon gifted it back, Ndlovu gliding too easily past Cordner and never shut down as he got himself into a position to slot the ball past Whitley four minutes alter.
Hurst put in a great tackle to deny Ndlovu the chance of a hat-trick and Whitely kept out the follow-up.
Having already put one effort wide, substitute Zanda Siziba slipped a chance off target when one-on-one.
But at the other end Whitley tipped Angleo Balanta's volley from a bouncing ball over and Cordner did well to put a cross over rather than under his crossbar
Having put Hurst's shot behind for a corner, Ashmore did brilliantly to keep out Howe's volley when the corner came slightly behind him and Sass-Davies did well to head a goalbound Kouhyar header behind.
A stoppage-time header from Dyson was fantastic.
York City: Whitley; Fallowfield, Howe, Cordner, Crookes; Dyson, Castro, Batty (McLaughlin 45+7), Kennedy; Kouhyar, Akinyemi.
Unused substitutes: Hurst, Siziba, Stott, Latty-Fairweather.
Boreham Wood: Ashmore; Coxe, Sass-Davies, Bush, Ilesanmi, O'Neil (Balanta 75); Griffiths; Marsh, Whelan, Abraham; Ndlovu.
Unused substitutes: Payne, Stephens, Abayomi, Miller.
Referee: M Barlow.