York City 1 Luton Town 0: City supporters leave boss Mills fuming despite Trophy triumph

FA Trophy Semi-Final 1st LegYORK CITY manager Gary Mills has launched a stinging attack on the Bootham Crescent boo-boys in the wake of his team’s 1-0 victory over nine-man Luton.

Mills is furious with those supporters who vented their displeasure after the final whistle on Saturday due to his side’s inability to score further goals against depleted opponents.

Luton had Jake Howells sent off in the 14th minute for deliberately handling Jamie Reed’s goal-bound shot, Reed himself converting the resultant penalty, and then lost Keith Keane to a second bookable offence in the 54th minute to leave their Wembley aspirations in jeopardy. But splendid goalkeeping by Mark Tyler and adamantine defending prevented York from taking a commanding advantage into next Saturday’s second leg at Kenilworth Road.

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Although York were the better team and played some slick stuff at times, with the redoubtable Scott Kerr orchestrating operations in midfield, a minority of a 3,365 crowd allowed their frustration to boil over at full-time – much to Mills’s indignation.

“We’d just beaten Luton 1-0 in the first leg of a cup semi-final and we get booed for that? Do me a favour,” fumed the former European Cup winner.

“I can’t believe what I heard, I really can’t.

“If I was to put nine men behind the ball in a training session, let’s see how many times our forward line score.

“Fair play to Luton – they defended well and, yes, we could have done better in certain situations in the final third, but to get booed is beyond me, absolutely beyond me.”

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Mills pointedly added that he was “the only man smiling” after York ended a feisty, fractious and full-blooded affair with their noses slightly in front.

The result must certainly be put into proper context.

Even with nine men, Luton – third in the Conference, four points and three places above a York side who slipped out of the play-off positions on Saturday due to results elsewhere – gave nothing away.

They were always likely to take some beating and proved once again the time-honoured maxim that teams reduced in numbers often roll up their sleeves and try that bit harder.

Yet even before Howells’s dismissal changed the game, York’s football was of a quality that gives hope that the job – half done at present – can be completed in Bedfordshire.

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Ironically, given that Luton ended up two men down, it was York who might have conceded a man advantage in just the second minute.

Moses Ashikodi, recalled to the starting XI, seemed just a little too keen to impress as he scythed down Charlie Henry in the centre of the Luton half with a tackle so late it should rightly have been sponsored by British Rail.

Referee Paul Tierney deemed it a yellow card – much to the consternation of the Luton dug-out and the 457 travelling supporters.

A journalist not far from this parish, handily positioned within conversing distance of the referee’s assessor, extracted the delightfully diplomatic opinion that the offence was “probably worth an orange card”.

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It would have been Sod’s Law had Ashikodi – one of four changes to the side that drew with Tamworth in midweek – gone on to score the winning goal, but his afternoon was ended by an ankle injury shortly after half-time.

Instead, after Reed netted what proved the winner, York’s likeliest threat came from the same player, who several times stung the gloves of the acrobatic Tyler, who flung himself this way and that on an afternoon of powerful winds, pleasant sunshine and, it should also be noted, an impeccably observed minute’s silence for the Yorkshire soldiers who last week tragically died while serving their country in Afghanistan.

York’s Lanre Oyebanjo produced the effort of the game, though, launching a spectacular scissors-kick in the 35th minute which Tyler parried into the path of Ashikodi, who should have done better with the follow-up.

But although Luton were mostly impotent going forward on account of their numerical disadvantage, York received a warning just before half-time when Janos Kovacs headed badly wide from close range, the former City defender muttering angrily to himself as he made the long trek back towards his own penalty box.

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After Keane was sent off for a high challenge on Jamal Fyfield, his second booking in a matter of minutes, the majority of York’s midfield and forward line tested Tyler as play became so condensed in the Luton half that one might have assumed the other half of the field was mined.

Tyler produced a fine double save from Ashley Chambers and Matthew Blinkhorn towards the end to leave the tie delicately-balanced and difficult to call.

York City: Ingham, Fyfield (Pilkington 63), Oyebanjo (Potts 54), Smith, Parslow; Meredith, Kerr, Challinor; Ashikodi (Chambers 48), Blinkhorn, Reed. Unused substitutes: Blair, McLaughlin.

Luton Town: Tyler, Taylor, Asafu-Adjaye, Pilkington, Kovacs; Keane, Lawless, Watkins (Osano 83), Henry (Blackett 59); Crow (Woolley 88), Howells. Unused substitutes: O’Donnell, Kidd.

Referee: P Tierney (Lancashire).