York City have another FA Trophy quarter-final this weekend – exactly five years to the day since their most recent one.
York City have another FA Trophy quarter-final this weekend, exactly five years to the day since their most recent one – which ironically had followed on from a potentially damaging midweek home defeat to Gateshead.
Midfield dynamo Scott Kerr was the unlikely hero, with a late winner at Grimsby Town earning the visitors a place in the FA Trophy semi-final for the third time in five years.
The former Lincoln City skipper headed his first-ever goal for the club from the recalled Lanre Oyebanjo’s cross with only seven minutes remaining of an always tense encounter at Blundell Park.
That was enough to inflict a first defeat in a dozen games for the in-form Mariners. City now line up with lower-ranked Wealdstone, Newport County and old rivals Luton Town in the last four of the competition.
Manager Gary Mills earlier made two changes with comebacks for both Oyebanjo and James Meredith, who operated on the left-hand side of midfield. He went on to witness his team start brighter than in recent games, with plenty of possession during the opening exchanges.
Matty Blair soon had a cross diverted behind for a corner before Chris Doig looped a header over from an Ashley Chambers delivery. But when York lost possession moments later, 26-goal Liam Hearn forced Michael Ingham into a low save at his left-hand post.
On loan Hull City defender Conor Townsend then struck a 35-yard free-kick straight at Ingham as the more direct style of the hosts began to appear increasingly threatening, with Ingham twice racing out to counter the presence of Hearn, who also had a sharp volley deflected over by Doig.
At the opposite end Chambers drilled wide of the near post from 30-yards following a neat build-up by the visitors, although Anthony Church shot wide in reply and Ingham was once more chasing out to block Hearn in the corner.
The contest really burst into life after Blair was fouled by Michael Coulson on the edge of the area and despite Patrick McLaughlin mis-kicking from the free-kick, the ball eventually fell for skipper Chris Smith to head wide from five-yards.
The Mariners immediately switched to the opposite end and danger-man Hearn fired against Ingham’s left-hand upright before the former Northern Ireland international keeper gathered Charlie I’Anson’s header from the subsequent corner.
York were then claiming a penalty for a challenge on Smith inside the area following a cross by McLaughlin, while Blair collected a pass from Jason Walker and drove inches wide of the far post before Chambers surged deep into the area until being denied by keeper James McKeown.
Grimsby started the second period with added impetus and Shaun Pearson headed tamely at Ingham from a Townsend free-kick before Coulson blazed well over the crossbar.
However, Walker had a half-volley clear the target in reply from a long throw by McLaughlin, who then saw his own shot charged down before Chambers chipped wide across goal.
But clear chances were nowhere near as frequent as towards the end of the opening half, and Hearn tried to test Ingham from a decidedly sharp angle with the contest entering its final ten minutes.
Then on 83 minutes the deadlock was finally broken following some sustained pressure from the visitors. Oyebanjo delivered from the right for Kerr to head back across goal for the winner.
Chambers twice went close to adding to it before the end as his side held on to maintain their excellent recent record in the competition.
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Silk, Pearson, I’Anson, Townsend, Disley, Church (Wood 63), Thanoj, Coulson (Makofo 80), Hearn, Duffy
subs (unused): Southwell, Freeman, Croudson
York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Smith, Doig, Gibson, Kerr, McLaughlin (Challinor 82), Meredith, Blair (Moke 72), Walker (Blinkhorn 62), Chambers
subs (unused): Parslow, Reed
Goals: Kerr (83)
Ref: S. Bratt (West Midlands)