Date: 10th March 2012 at 5:36pm
Written by: Vital York

York City take a narrow 1-0 lead to Luton Town in their FA Trophy semi-final second-leg but it should have been so much better after the visitors finished the tie with only nine men at Bootham Crescent.

Jamie Reed scored the winner from the penalty spot on fourteen minutes after Jake Howells was sent-off for deliberate handball. The Hatters then lost Keith Keane for a second bookable offence early in the second-half but despite virtual exclusive possession the hosts couldn’t manage to add to their lead as they found opposition goalkeeper Mark Tyler in inspired form.

York manager Gary Mills earlier made four changes to his starting line-up, including a shock recall for striker Moses Ashikodi, who hadn’t featured since the middle of January. Another former Luton trialist, Matthew Blinkhorn, was also selected in place of sidelined ex-Hatter Jason Walker. Skipper Chris Smith and Reed similarly returned.

Stuart Fleetwood failed a fitness test for the visitors but former City duo Alex Lawless and Janos Kovacs were named in their side. However, Andre Boucaud, who departed York for Luton earlier this season, was amongst a number of absentees.

The Minstermen began at a fast tempo and Ashikodi delivered a rapid second-minute cross but was then promptly booked for a heavy challenge on Charlie Henry. Keane drove wide in reply before York took an early stranglehold of the tie after Lanre Oyebanjo’s 13th minute corner was flicked on by Blinkhorn for Reed’s point-blank shot to be handled on the line by Howells. He was immediately sent-off and Reed calmly sent goalkeeper Tyler the wrong way from the spot for his tenth goal of the campaign.

Reed could have added to that lead just ten minutes later when being sent clear until Tyler thrust out a desperate hand to block before Smith headed over from Oyebanjo’s subsequent corner.

Adam Watkins replied with an effort over the bar and Scott Kerr did likewise from another long Oyebanjo throw, while Jon Challinor escaped down the right and crossed early for Blinkhorn to blaze over. York should have doubled their advantage just a couple of minutes later when James Meredith’s cross from the right was met by a bicycle kick from Oyebanjo and parried by Tyler – Ashikodi unable to turn the ball in with the keeper stranded on the ground.

Luton’s best chance of the opening half arrived with just seven minutes remaining as Kovacs headed wide from Watkins’ cross.

York were forced into a couple of early changes at the start of the second period after Ashikodi and Oyebanjo both suffered knocks and were replaced by Ashley Chambers and Michael Potts. But it was goalscorer Reed soon having a 25-yard free-kick turned over by Tyler after being hacked down by the cautioned Keane. A couple of minutes later Keane was dismissed for a poor challenge on Jamal Fyfield.

The Minstermen were unsurprisingly having loads of possession against Luton’s nine men and Kerr struck an effort into Tyler’s hands from the edge of the area after decent work from Chambers. Challinor’s shot then didn’t have sufficient power to seriously trouble Tyler at his near post but the keeper was certainly the hero when keeping out Chambers and Blinkhorn in quick succession.

Substitute Chambers soon drove across goal and Blinkhorn was only inches away from diverting it in before Meredith had a shot deflected through to Tyler, while both Potts and Blinkhorn failed to press him into further action after firing over and Tyler was also required to snatch hurriedly during a late goalmouth scramble.

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

subs (unused): McLaughhlin, Blair

Goals: Reed (pen 14)

Luton Town: Tyler, Asafu-Adjaye, G. Pilkington, Kovacs, Taylor, Keane, Lawless, Watkins (Osano 83), Henry (Blackett 59), Crow (Woolley 88), Howells

subs (unused): O’Donnell, Kidd

Ref: P. Tierney

Att: 3,365 (457 Luton)

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