Bolton Wanderers 2 York City 0: Davies breaks York's hearts

Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander stepped off the bench to fire Bolton through to the FA Cup fourth round and deny non-league York the replay they would have deserved.

STICK with us on our journey back into the Football League is the call to the 5,000 York fans whose magnificent backing almost helped bridge the biggest gap between rival clubs involved in the weekend's third-round ties.

There were 99 places between Premier League Bolton and Blue Square York but the difference in quality was minimal.

In fact, it took the appearance off the bench of two international strikers, England's Kevin Davies and Sweden's Johan Elmander, to end 40 years of hurt in a manner of speaking for Bolton.

For the last time the clubs met in the FA Cup, midfield man Ian Davidson's brace gave Tom Johnston's York a 2-0 home win in 1971 as they successfully chased promotion to the old Division Three as Bolton were slipping into it from Division Two.

How times have changed since then, Bolton looking for a place in Europe with a ground and facilities – if not a support – to match their ambition, while York are stuck in a time-warp at Bootham Crescent ahead of a long-awaited move of their own.

Under Gary Mills, however, there is genuine belief that their seven-season stay in the Conference could be coming to an end.

Frozen pitches over the festive season have left them with a lot of catching up to do, starting tomorrow at home to Grimsby Town but Saturday's performances should provide the ideal fillip for a genuine charge towards the play-offs.

Not that Mills nor outstanding midfield man Neil Barrett believes York raised their game against the Trotters.

Former European Cup winner Mills has only had the job a few months but is producing a fluent outfit in the manner of his old Nottingham Forest side.

There was no sense of masking what had actually happened in the preceding 90 minutes when he stated: "I didn't see a lot of difference in the sides other than Davies stuck the ball in the back of the net with seven minutes to play. It's cruel on us. I'm gutted but there's a lot of positives there.

"We haven't lifted our game. It wasn't a one-off, we have been playing like that and we have to ensure we maintain playing like that.

"I thought the least we would go home with was a 0-0 and I thought if anybody was going to get the first goal it was going to be us."

Of the support which was around double York's normal home gate, he added: "We certainly would like to have that every game. The FA Cup certainly does bring the fans out.

"It's what we want to get to. It's games like this that give you a lift. I want to get York out of playing at grounds where there are only 600 or 700 spectators. I want to get York to grounds where the crowds are. It's a difficult league to get out of so we have to play like that the majority of season to get where we want to.

"We have to get back in the Football League, that's what York City is about. I haven't come to a club to keep them in the Conference. I've come to get them out of there. If we can do that this time great, if not then my job is to do it next season."

Former Chelsea youngster Barrett, 30, who scored the opener in last season's 3-1 third-round defeat at Stoke, admitted to making a hash of his free header which would have given York a 50th-minute lead but said of his second opportunity in the 82nd minute: "I don't think I could have hit it any better but their keeper has pulled off a 'worldy' really. He probably guessed a little bit and went very early but for them to go to the other end and score was a bitter pill to swallow really."

That is when Davies showed his predatory instinct, challenging for a cross before scuffing the ball with enough power into the roof of the net after it had rebounded off the unfortunate Danny Parslow into his path.

Luck played its part in that goal but Elmander's was a sweet strike from outside the area after a crossfield ball from Matt Taylor.

Barrett, who had sent Ashley Chambers through to squander York's best opening in the early stages, added: "We are so disappointed but it wasn't to be. We have been playing like that every week and it's just nice that we can do it at a place like this, at a side who are top seven in the Premier League. It was great to receive that reception from both sets of fans at the end. The fans were fantastic and we are disappointed we couldn't get the result for them.

"After a performance like that you can only take the positives. There is no way we will have a downer on Tuesday night because we played so well. Even when they brought on some of their big guns, we were still holding our own. The players are disappointed but not down. If we can put a good run together then maybe we can reach the play-offs."

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan,Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Alonso; Blake (Elmander 72), M Davies, Cohen (Taylor 60), Petrov; Klasnic (K Davies 46), Rodrigo. Unused substitutes: Robinson, Muamba, Jaaskelainen, O'Halloran.

York City: Ingham, Parslow, McGurk, Smith, Carruthers; Weir; Chambers (Till 66), Barrett (Reed 85), Smith, Meredith (Racchi 84); Rankine. Unused substitutes: Knight, Mackin, Young, Constantine.

Referee: K Hill (Herts).

MATCH FOCUS

Hero: Neil Barrett

Some may class him a villain for failing to convert a free header but he was the pick of a York midfield triumvirate including Robbie Weir and Jonathan Smith which wrested control from Bolton.

Villain: Ashley Chambers

Why, oh why did the on-loan Leicester player not shoot when sent through into the area by Barrett's defence-splitting pass in the 5th minute instead of attempting to pass?

Key moment

82nd-minute: Barrett's first-timer produces the save of the match from Adam Bogdan. A minute later and York go behind.

Ref Watch

Keith Hill: Excellent performance from the official, who ruled by common-sense.

Verdict

This should be the benchmark for the rest of the campaign but have York left it too late?

Next game

York City v Grimsby, Blue Sq Premier, tomorrow, 7.45pm.

Quote of the day

I've got to build confidence and belief back into them because you've seen that there are certainly players here who can play in the Football League, no problem.

– York City manager Gary Mills after unlucky defeat at the Reebok.

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