No happy ending for Blair as York City lose in Trophy
As it was, the members of the travelling party who had pledged loyalty to the Minsterman were the ones left feeling blue on the return trip to the Midlands after two calamitous mistakes by the home side handed the League One club a safe passage into the Northern Area quarter-finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
First, Carlisle attempted a pass across the edge of his own penalty area 12 minutes into the second half that instead of finding its intended target went straight to the feet of McGoldrick.
With goalkeeper Michael Ingham stood to the right of his goal, the Sky Blues striker was left with the simple task of rolling the ball into an unguarded net from 20 yards out.
Falling behind had been harsh on York, who up until then had contributed fully to an entertaining tie that had seen play rage from one end to the other.
Unfortunately for the home fans in a crowd of 2,771, the self-inflicted damage was far from over with Kerr, making his first start since March after injury, hesitating fatally midway inside his own half.
Coventry didn’t require a second invitation as the former Scarborough midfielder was quickly besieged and Ball claimed possession before finishing with aplomb.
There were still 18 minutes left on the clock when Ball made it 2-0 but York never threatened to get back into the game and a third goal followed when McGoldrick exposed some slow reaction in the home backline to fire in his second of the night. Chris Hussey then compounded City’s misery with a tidy finish at the death.
Such a heavy losing margin was incredibly harsh on the Minstermen, who up until Carlisle’s blunder had threatened to continue their fine recent form in knockout football.
As recently as last May, three divisions had separated these two clubs in the football pyramid.
Since then, however, the gap has been narrowed markedly courtesy of York’s return to the Football League and Coventry’s relegation from the Championship.
That much was evident last night in the first half as York just about edged a goalless 45 minutes in which both sides had created chances.
Blair, who had revealed in the matchday programme how half of the 100 family and friends travelling up from Coventry intended supporting York for the night, was the first to threaten for the home side with a shot that goalkeeper Joe Murphy did well to block with his feet.
Last season’s goalscoring hero at Wembley as York won not only promotion but also the FA Trophy again went close in the ninth minute.
After exchanging passes with Oli Johnson, Blair attempted a cheeky back-heel that would have succeeded but for a desperate block by the visitors on the line.
At the other end, Coventry also asked serious questions with Ball finding Carl Baker with a low cross only for his team-mate to poke wide.
Michael Ingham, York’s hero of the first round win at Rotherham United, then had to make two fine saves to keep out a point-blank header from former Sheffield Wednesday defender Richard Wood and a curled effort by Baker.
With just 10 minutes on the clock, the breathless pace couldn’t be maintained and for the next half hour or so it was York who looked by far the more comfortable when in possession,
Boasting superior numbers in midfield, the Minstermen continued to press and Jason Walker was unfortunate to see an inviting cross from the left evade a couple of team-mates before the striker was played through by Dave Challinor only to shoot just wide.
Mark Robins, the former Rotherham and Barnsley manager, had seen enough and re-jigged his personnel to try and counter the host side’s ability to break in numbers from midfield.
The switch worked admirably with Coventry, thanks to a helping hand from Carlisle and Kerr, going on to win the tie with a clinical display of finishing to send their 374 fans – and the Sky Blue-supporting contingent among Blair’s family and friends – back home happy.
York City: Ingham; Challinor, Doig (Carlisle 51), C Smith, Fyfield; Chambers, Blair, Kerr (Reed 75), Kearns, Johnson (Parslow 68); Walker. Unused substitutes: Musselwhite, Parslow, Reed, J Smith.
Coventry City: Murphy; Clarke, Cameron, Wood (Christie 31), Reckford; Baker, Moussa (Hussey 76), Bailey, Fleck (Jennings 74); Ball, McGoldrick. Unused substitutes: Hussey, Dunn, Elliott.
Referee: G Eltingham (Tyne and Wear).