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Match preview: York City v Rotherham
YORK City midfielder Craig Clay would love a good run in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy to compensate for being left behind when former club Chesterfield won the 2012 Wembley final.
Clay was not invited along to the national stadium by former Spireites boss John Sheridan despite having made seven appearances for the then League One outfit that season prior to the final, including a 3-1 victory at Notts County during an earlier round of the competition.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who was 19 at the time, missed out on the celebrations, therefore, when Chesterfield defeated Swindon 2-0 to lift the trophy.
It is a setback he remembers well and could provide motivation as City look to progress to the last 16 of the tournament during tonight’s home meeting with Rotherham United.
Clay said: “I played in a game during that run but I wasn’t taken to Wembley. There was only myself and another younger player that didn’t go on the trip, which was a bit disappointing, but I will have to see what happens in the competition this season now.
“You obviously want to do well in every cup and everybody wants to play at Wembley. It’s one of the best places in the world so hopefully we can push on in that competition, as well as in the League.”
Clay went on to make the first team again that season after being overlooked for the final by Sheridan and then played 23 times for the Derbyshire club in 2012/13 before making a summer switch to Bootham Crescent.
He was also an unused substitute as Chesterfield failed to defeat promotion-bound Rotherham twice last term, so has a good idea of what to expect this evening, saying: “It will be tough.
“They had a good team last season and will have improved since then. But we have a bit of momentum at the minute and, if we play the same as we have done for the last few games, we have a chance of beating them.”
Having filled in for the suspended Lewis Montrose, who is now available again, during Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Torquay, Clay is hoping to have provided manager Nigel Worthington with a selection headache.
Prior to his recall in Devon, the Nottingham-born midfielder had not even made the bench after being axed from the starting line-up following last month’s 2-0 home defeat to AFC Wimbledon, leading him to add: “It was the best feeling ever to get back in the team.
“I was a bit fortunate that Lewis was suspended because he has been quality but, hopefully, I have given the gaffer a problem now when he picks the team for the next game. You get dropped in football and get disappointments but you have to work hard to get back in and I will keep doing that.
“Even though, on a personal note, I’ve been disappointed not to be involved in recent games, it was good to see the team get a few results.
“I’ve just been concentrating on keeping my head up because anything can happen in football like Lewis getting suspended.
“Then, if you get the nod, you have to take your chance, which I hope I did. I think all the lads played well on Saturday and I don’t think anybody had a bad game.
“The first half could have gone either way because they had one or two chances but we stuck at it, stayed resilient and kept a clean sheet. Then, in the second half, we got at them and, once we got the first goal, I thought we looked dangerous and could have got four or five.”
Saturday’s victory, following on from the 4-2 defeat of Portsmouth, lifted City up to 16th in the League Two standings and Clay insisted nobody in the squad ever lost faith in the team’s ability to bounce back from a run of four straight defeats that had left the club floundering in the relegation zone.
“Even when we were losing by the odd goal or getting draws, we were playing well and, in training, all the lads knew it would turn if we just stuck at it,” he reasoned.
“We are confident and have a good little squad and, with a bit more confidence, the football is flowing now.”
Clay’s restoration to the first XI also saw him line-up alongside on-loan Sheffield United teenager Elliott Whitehouse in the Minstermen’s midfield for the first time.
On that experience, he said: “It was good. He’s a bit younger than I am but you wouldn’t think it and I thought we looked mature in there.
“I thought we came out of the game with our heads held high for two young players. We ratted around and got on the ball as well.”
Clay’s cross for house-mate Wes Fletcher’s first goal at Plainmoor, meanwhile, provided another excuse to perform a goal celebration first witnessed during the victory over Pompey.
Revealing that his own dance-floor skills were the inspiration behind the choreographed routine, Clay laughed: “Me and Wes live together so there’s always banter flying around even if it’s usually bad banter from him.
“The goal celebration is meant to be about my rascal moves on a night out, but I think my moves are quality.”
THIS is the fifth time York City and Rotherham United have been paired in the Football League Trophy.
In the late 1980s, they twice met in the group qualifying stages, drawing 0-0 at Bootham Crescent in 1985/86, with United winning 3-1 at Millmoor four years later.
In 1995/96, Rotherham won 4-1 at home in the northern area semi-final – City’s best run in the competition – and last season in the first round Matty Blair netted the only goal at the New York Stadium.
The line-up on September 4, 2012, was: Ingham, Oyebanjo, C Smith, Carlisle, Taylor, Blair, Parslow, J Smith, Coulson, Walker (Challinor), McLaughlin.
It happened on October 8
1932: Reg Baines was the scorer in a 1-0 win at New Brighton in Division Three North.
1938: A 2-0 win over Hartlepools United in the Northern Section watched by 6,208. On target were Bob Mortimer and George Lee.
1994: In the Second Division (League One), City and Peterborough United drew 1-1 at Bootham Crescent. Jon McCarthy was the marksman and the crowd was 3,601.
2005: A 2-2 draw at Gravesend & Northfleet in the Conference with Clayton Donaldson and Andy Bishop on the scoresheet.
2011: City beat Braintree 6-2 at home in the BSP in front of 2,640 with Ashley Chambers, Patrick McLaughlin (2), Jamal Fyfield, Jason Walker (pen) and Adriano Moké the marksmen.
• Footnote: The 3-0 victory against Torquay United at Plainmoor on Saturday was York City’s biggest away success in the Football League since August 18, 2001, when they won 3-0 at Torquay.
Compiled by David Batters
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