On a cold, wet and windy Saturday a club with plenty of proud history in the competition was knocked out 1-0 by a Northern Premier League team.
Buxton were in great form, only suffering their first defeat this season seven days earlier when Gary Hayward rested players with North Yorkshire in mind. They did, though, have a new manager in Steve Cunningham after Hayward and his assistant Mark Ward were sacked not for that FA Trophy surrender but apparently Ward wanting to spend first-round weekend on holiday.
York had lost once in seven games and were on the back of what many regarded as their best performance of the season, a 4-0 home win over Blyth Spartans. The Community Stadium welcomed it’s biggest crowd – 3,791.
But from the off, the mood beyond the away end was grumpy.
The game had barely started before the first chants of “Sack the board!” and “We want Jason out!” At least the South Stand is still on first-name terms with owner/chairman McGill.
When the goal former York and Sheffield United striker Diego de Girolamo threatened all afternoon came, the focus turned to “Attack! Attack! Attack! Attack! Attack!” and when the substitutes manager Steve Watson sent on failed to produce, the soundtrack changed again.
“This is embarrassing.”
It was as damning a terrace chant as you can get but a fair one which will still be ringing in Watson’s ears today. Goalkeeper Pete Jameson was York’s man of the match for good reason.
Just as much exasperation poured from Watson, who knows what his team is capable of but can never be sure he will get it.
“A lot of teams go out to teams in the leagues below when they dominate and just have one of those days – it wasn’t one of those days, we were beaten by a team that was better than us on the day,” he admitted. “There’s really no excuse for that.”
Buxton’s Theo Richardson had to make a good save from Clayton Donaldson and two when free-kicks picked Sam Fielding out, but precious little else. Jameson denied Jamie Ward at least three times, Tommy Elliot and Chris Dawson, and breathed four sighs of relief in the second half alone when de Girolamo wasted chances. A fifth was always going to be pushing it, and his 86th-minute finish was a worthy winner.
“We can’t achieve anything while we’re pulling out seven or eight out of 10 performances and four and fives the following week,” complained Watson.
“I’m the manager so I’m going to take responsibility but the players have to ask themselves why performances are so erratic.”
Anything could happen at Leamington in Conference North tomorrow.
“Our lads, depending on how the game starts or what happens in it, are capable of great things, great performances, and they’re also capable of being well below standards,” explained Watson.
“If we can nail down five or six consistent performances, we’ll be in and around it. If you look at where we are in the league, we’re not where we want to be but we’re still in striking distance (ninth). On Tuesday we might have another Blyth performance.”
Crossing your fingers is not much of a tactic.
Watson’s head is on the block but he suggested he does not have the tools he needs in a youthful squad unable to withstand the injuries it has suffered. It is another stick to beat the board with.
Asked what he must do, Watson said: “You do the same things (in training), your repetitive stuff without the ball, following, tightness, pressing.
“The ultra-consistent teams have people to help with that. It’s difficult for Sam, for instance, to play against very good teams when he’s only really played Under-23 football before and ask him to play central midfield, centre-half, right-back, wing-back. It’s difficult to ask Olly Dyson, a 22-year-old lad, to play right-back and central midfield, then at the top of a three and right of a three.
“Consistency will come from playing the same position. It’s very difficult for the lads to be chopped around but because of the injuries we’ve had no choice.
“And these are lads that haven’t played at massively high levels.
“A lot of them probably hadn’t played in front of 3,700 people,” he added.
York fans have learnt how difficult removing McGill is but that removing an unsuccessful manager is pretty easy.
“I genuinely think I’m capable of turning these inconsistent performances into a run but there’s no point saying it, it’s all about actions,” said Watson.
“I should feel under pressure. I’m not deaf, I don’t kid myself that I can’t hear things.”
Everyone could hear it on Saturday – all is not well at York City.
York City: Jameson; Fielding, Brown, Wright, Newton; Hopper, McLaughlin; Heaney, Dyson (Gilchrist 71), Willoughby (Beck 61); Donaldson. Unused substitutes: Haase, Campbell, Cunningham, Lancaster, Dale.
Buxton: T Richardson; Curley, Granite, Middleton, Fox; Meikle; Clarke, Dawson, Elliot (Hurst 89), Ward (Chambers 74); de Girolamo. Unused substitutes: Hinds, Dillingham, Houghton, Heath, H Richardson.