ROTHERHAM UNITED bowed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the first hurdle as they slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of York City.
Matthew Blair’s late strike saw Steve Evans’ men suffer their first competitive defeat at their New York Stadium home.
Following their handsome victory over Bradford, Andy Warrington was given an opportunity between the sticks at the expense of Scott Shearer.
Johnny Mullins was brought back in the home rearguard with Kari Arnason on international duty with Iceland while Lionel Ainsworth and Jason Taylor were re-introduced into the starting line-up in the midfield berths.
There was also a new look to the home strikeforce with Alex Revell and Kieran Agard leading the line at the expense of Daniel Nardiello and Kayode Odejayi, who dropped to the bench.
The Millers had the better of the early exchanges and in-form winger Gareth Evans had the first sight of his goal but his speculative effort was charged down by Daniel Parslow giving ‘keeper Michael Ingham an easy sighter.
At the other end, Jonathan Smith shrugged off the attentions of his marker to drill an effort which rolled tantalisingly across the box before Mark Bradley’s mis-hit cross had Ingham backtracking nervously but it narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Following a quick York counter-attack, Bradley was on-hand to prevent Matthew Blair breaking away but the converted right-back was the latest to suffer the injury jinx, which has plagued first-choice full-backs Dale Tonge and Nicky Hunt, as he was forced off following a hefty fall which saw him replaced by David Noble.
With Jason Taylor being the latest to be utilised as an emergency right-back , Laurence Wilson’s rasping effort fizzed over the crossbar before Ingham was forced to collect Clarke Carlisle’s backpass as Agard looked to pounce but from the resultant free-kick, Evans smashed his point-blank free kick into the defensive wall.
Just past the half-hour, Jason Taylor tried his luck from distance and his deflected effort almost fell invitingly for Agard, but the ex-Yeovil frontman was inches from making a telling connection.
In a rare foray by the visitors, Jonathan Smith stung the palms of Warrington with a fierce drive before Michael O’Connor’s swirling cross almost caught Ingham by surprise, who was forced to palm over his own crossbar after a hasty retreat.
With half-time approaching, O’Connor’s clever pass gave Revell a sight of goal but his curling effort failed to trouble Ingham before Ainsworth’s tame volley was comfortably gathered by the York stopper minutes later.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 York City 0
Following the restart, the visitors started the stronger and a long punt forward saw Jason Taylor and Warrington hesitate to clear the danger but Patrick McLaughlin failed to capitalise as his floated effort saw the ex-Minstermen ‘keeper recover to collect near his own line.
Minutes later, a quick counter led by McLaughlin paved the way for a three-on-two situation but Jason Walker’s snap shot was blocked by a retreating Mullins.
In their first attack of note in the second stanza, Rotherham came within a whisker of the breakthrough when Evans floated a delightful centre which saw Mullins climb highest to direct a downward header which was heading for the bottom corner until Ingham’s late intervention.
The effort sprung the Millers into life and following a carbon-copy in the next phase of play with Mullins’ header clearing the crossbar, Revell looked to have given the home side the lead when he cleverly latched onto a Warrington clearance, but his dipping effort was superbly parried to safety by Ingham.
The visitors almost stunned the home faithful when Noble’s error paved the way for Blair to launch a marauding run before releasing Michael Coulson but his goalbound effort was superbly blocked by Mullins.
With 15 minutes to go, Evans drilled a skimming effort which forced Ingham into a full-length save but with the game tantalisingly poised, York made the vital breakthrough with 10 minutes remaining.
Following promptings in and around the home box, Walker’s instinctive effort was blocked by a retreating defender but the ball rolled kindly into the path of Blair, who kept his composure to calmly roll the ball past the outstretched hand of Warrington to find the bottom corner.
The Millers responded bravely and they looked to have equalised with immediate effect when Evans’ text book cross found the diving head of Nardiello but his point-blank effort was kept out by a superb reflex save by Ingham.
With time running out, the Millers piled on the pressure and Noble jinked his way into the box before floating a cross which saw Revell direct his header goalwards but to the home side’s despair, the ball narrowly cleared the crossbar with Ingham just a helpless bystander.
Despite late pressure from the home side, York held on to claim their place in the next round of the competition at the expense of the Millers.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 York City 1
Rotherham:- Warrington, Bradley (Noble 22), Mullins, Sharps, Wilson, Ainsworth (Nardiello 78), O’Connor (Pringle 46), J Taylor, Evans, Revell, Agard. Unused:- Odejayi, Denton.
York:- Ingham, Oyebanjo, C Smith, Parslow, Walker, Coulson, J Smith, Blair, Carlisle, McLaughlin, C Taylor. Unused:- Musselwhite, Bullock, McReady, Fyfield, Challinor.
Referee:- R Clark.
Attendance:- 3975 (362)