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Gray upbeat despite FA Trophy exit

16th December 2017
Match Result
Kidderminster Logo
York City Logo
York City
Aggborough Stadium
Saturday 16th Dec - 15:00

York City manager Martin Gray felt his side produced the best 45 minutes of football since his appointment this afternoon against Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Trophy first round.

The Minstermen suffered a 2-1 defeat at Aggborough and exited the competition they won last season at Wembley.

But Gray was still hugely impressed by his side's second half display as they recovered from a 'minute of madness' and came within a whisker of forcing a replay.

The Harriers, who have not lost at home since the opening day of the season, had scored twice in the space of a minute during the first half to leave City with a mountain to climb.

But substitute Amari Morgan-Smith pulled a goal back for City in the 76th minute and defender Daniel Rowe struck the post in stoppage time.

Harriers goakeeper Brandon Hall also produced a finger-tip save to push a volley from Jon Parkin over the crossbar.

"There was not an awful lot in the game in the first half but we had a minute of madness," said Gray afterwards. "I asked the players at halftime to show me some character and be brave and that's the best second half performance, probably the best performance I have had, since I have been here - and we have been beat!

"We dominated the second half and we deserved better than what we got," he added. "If we continue to play with that bravery on the ball, we are going to get where we need to get to."

Loan signings Sean McAllister and Alex Pattison both started the game as Gray made two changes from the defeat at Boston United two weeks ago. Defender Daniel Parslow and striker Morgan-Smith dropped to the bench.

City, wearing new navy blue shirts to avoid a colour clash with Kidderminster, came under pressure for long periods of the first half but were not helped by an ankle injury to captain Sean Newton.

The midfielder went to ground following a robust challenge with just 14 minutes gone yet battled on until three minutes before the interval when he was replaced by Josh Law.

Newton’s lack of full mobility may have been a factor in Kidderminster’s first goal which was scored by James Pearson after 35 minutes.

Ryan Croasdale slipped Newton near the City box and, when his shot was blocked, Pearson volleyed home the loose ball.

The home side doubled their advantage almost immediately as winger Emmanuel Sonupe escaped the attention of fullback David Ferguson on the left and slotted the ball home from 12 yards.

Ironically, Ferguson had just missed a great opportunity for City when, after running onto a pass from Newton, his low drive was gathered at the second attempt by goalkeeper Hall.

The introduction of substitutes Morgan-Smith and Aidan Connolly in the second half gave City fresh impetus.

Morgan-Smith, who is still popular with Kidderminster supporters following a one season spell at the club (2013-14), curled a spectacular shot past Hall to set up a thrilling finale.

And City were knocking on the door for an equaliser all the way to the final whistle with both Rowe and Parkin unlucky not to find the net in stoppage time.

Referee Martin Woods also rejected strong penalty appeals for handball and a first half push on James Gray.

Kidderminster Harriers: Hall, Pearson, Taylor, Croasdale, Horsfall, Williams, Sonupe, Weeks, Ironside, Ngwatala (Wright 86), Austin (McQuilkin 61). Unused substitutes: Brown, Truslove, Vaughan.

City: Bartlett, Rowe, Ferguson, Bencherif, Burn, Moke, Newton (C) (Law 42), McAllister (Connolly 66), Parkin, Gray (Morgan-Smith 58), Pattison. Unused substitutes: Parslow, Simpson.

Referee: Martin Woods

Attendance: 1136 (including 89 City supporters)

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