THE York City revival continues to gather pace.
After back-to-back victories that had loudly announced the Minstermen as being well and truly back in the Football League, Gary Mills’s side are into the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second round after claiming the notable scalp of Rotherham United.
Matty Blair, the club’s two-time Wembley hero in May as promotion was secured from the Conference along with the FA Trophy, struck the vital blow 10 minutes from time.
The former Kidderminster Harriers man, making his first start of the season, finished with aplomb after latching on to a blocked Jason Walker shot to press his claims for a place in the line-up to face Chesterfield this weekend.
Mind, while Blair may have got the all-important goal, the true hero for York last night was goalkeeper Michael Ingham.
Against a Rotherham side who had netted seven goals without reply in their first two league games at the New York Stadium, York understandably came under heavy pressure at times.
However, thanks to some stunning saves by Ingham both before and after Blair’s strike, the League newcomers held on to claim a memorable win.
Choosing the pick of his saves was difficult with the manner in which Alex Revell was denied just after the hour being matched by the late effort that kept out Daniel Nardiello’s diving header.
Either way, there was little doubting the contribution Ingham made to the win – as was illustrated at the final whistle by several of the goalkeeper’s grateful team-mates rushing to embrace him.
It meant a frustrating end to the night for the majority of the 3,975 crowd, though those of a York persuasion will rightly point out that it wasn’t until the second half that the chances started to come for the hosts.
In fact, Rotherham came closest to finding the net in the first half at a time when the visitors momentarily let their guard down courtesy of a weak Clarke Carlisle back pass.
Ingham’s response was to dive on the ball as Kieran Agard closed in. Referee Richard Clark immediately blew for the free-kick but Evans could only fire into the wall from 12 yards after having the ball nudged in his direction.
The only other nervous moment for the Minstermen in the opening 45 minutes also came in a bizarre fashion as an overhit cross from Michael O’Connor arrowed towards the net before being tipped over by a furiously back-pedalling Ingham.
Otherwise, Mills’s side coped admirably with the Millers while also looking neat and tidy when in possession.
Unable to build up the sort of pressure Rotherham were able to exert, York did, nevertheless, give their hosts a few worrying moments as Jonathan Smith shot wide and Lanre Oyebanjo drilled an inviting pass across the face of goal that was almost begging to be touched in.
After the break, it was more of the same as Rotherham continued to press.
Upping their efforts around the hour mark, the Millers suddenly started to test Ingham more frequently but on each occasion he was equal to their efforts.
First, he tipped a goalbound effort from Agard round the post after Johnny Mullins had met an Evans corner with a firm header.
Moments later, Evans was released down the left but his fierce cross was bundled behind by the defence.
Ingham then stepped centre stage again with a stunning one-handed save to keep out Alex Revell’s first-time effort after a flick-on by Agard had caught out the visitors’ defence.
Revell understandably threw his arms up in frustration, an action that was copied 16 minutes from time by Evans after his low shot had been saved low to his right by Ingham.
The save to deny Evans came just a couple of minutes after York looked to have spurned their best chance of the night when Michael Coulson saw his shot blocked after darting in behind the Millers’ defence.
Any fears, however, that York had missed their chance were to prove unfounded as Blair latched on to Walker’s blocked shot.
Eight yards from goal, the York man then showed the kind of predatory instinct that brought 20 goals last season to drill the ball past Andy Warrington in the home goal.
With 10 minutes still on the clock, Rotherham predictably threw everything at York as Nardiello wriggled through only to be denied by Ingham.
The former Barnsley striker was frustrated for a second time in as many minutes when his diving header was beaten away by the York goalkeeper.
At that stage, it seemed like it really was destined to be York’s night but there was still time for Ben Pringle to create one last opening for David Noble but the substitute could only head over.
Rotherham United: Warrington; Bradley (Noble 23), Mullins, Sharps, Wilson; Ainsworth (Nardiello 78), O’Connor (Pringle 46), Taylor, Evans; Revell, Agard. Unused substitutes: Odejayi, Denton.
York City: Ingham; Oyebanjo, Carlisle, C Smith, Taylor; Blair, J Smith, Parslow, McLaughlin, Coulson; Walker Challinor 90). Unused substitutes: Musselwhite, Bullock, McReady, Fyfield.
Referee: R Clark (Northumberland).