YORK City were dealt another cruel late blow as Doncaster Rovers edged a 1-0 victory in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
Harry Forrester’s 91st minute strike, smashed into goalkeeper Jason Mooney’s bottom left corner, condemned the Minstermen to League Cup heartache – in a game they had bossed throughout.
Curtis Main held up the ball on the edge of the penalty area and there seemed little danger as he fed a pass to the second half substitute.
But Forrester took a touch inside and hammered a shot low and past a stranded Mooney into the net from about 18 yards.
It became the Minstermen’s ninth successive opening round defeat in the competition, a run of results which saw them win their last tie in 1997.
But this defeat was hugely undeserved.
They were superior throughout, continually hassling Rovers and creating a number of clear-cut chances.
Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalise and it eventually cost them.
Manager Nigel Worthington had suggested he may make changes in the wake of City’s 1-1 draw at Tranmere Rovers on Saturday but, in the event, he made just one – Dave Winfield coming in at centre-half for Prenton Park goalscorer Keith Lowe.
As they were at the weekend, the Minstermen were quickly out of the blocks. In the first minute, Anthony Straker gave Rovers full-back Liam Wakefield the first of what would be a series of recurring nightmares in the first half.
In stride, he skipped inside and outside the defender before firing a shot that Doncaster keeper Jed Steer handled easily.
Lindon Meikle had a shot blocked after Michael Coulson failed to narrowly get on the end of Straker’s bye-line cross and the best chance of a hugely encouraging opening then came in the seventh minute.
The assistant referee may have thought Coulson was offside, waving his flag in protest, but referee Mark Heywood carried on and so did the York City forward.
He pulled the ball back from the touchline to Ryan Jarvis, running into the area. The former Torquay frontman couldn’t get the purchase he wanted though – slightly scuffing his effort and allowing Steer to get down to his left and make the save.
It was midway through the first half before Doncaster managed their first shot and it wasn’t worth waiting for as Main, finally finding some space, ballooned an effort well over the bar from 20 yards.
Kyle Bennett, from a similar distance, at least tested Jason Mooney on 27 minutes but the giant City goalkeeper merely had to extend his hands to grasp the weak, curling effort.
Tom Platt’s strike, low and drilled from just outside the area ten minutes before the break, caused far more concern and Steer was grateful it rocketed narrowly past his right-hand upright.
They began the second half in similar fashion. Russell Penn grazed an effort just over the bar from the right side of the 18-yard box as Rovers, through Bennett and Theo Robinson, continued to resort to speculative efforts from range.
Steer was almost caught out as he raced out to meet Mooney’s long clearance only to see Meikle get there first. The winger was unable to find a teammate as he stole ahead of the Rovers custodian.
Steer did much better seconds later, however. Straker’s searching ball into the box found a willing Coulson running onto it in stride. He fired in a shot at the near post but Steer got his body in the way and forced it behind.
Coulson then had a fierce drive from 12 yards blocked and it looked like the Minstermen were starting to run riot.
But Theo Robinson reminded City of the visitors’ threat when heading over the bar and Forrester, with his opening touch of the ball, stumbled when Rovers finally got in behind York for the first time in the match on 66 minutes.
Straker continued to be influential. Steer parried a driven shot at point blank range which was arrowing towards the top corner after the winger weaved his way through the left side of the pitch, and several challenges, to smash an effort goalwards.
Coulson tried his best to win it for York late on, but his effort – on the turn following a fine piece of control eight yards out – was on the ground and straight at the Doncaster keeper.
Then Forrester produced a moment of magic to steal the tie away from the Minstermen.
Jason Mooney 7, Marvin McCoy 7, John McCombe 7, Dave Winfield 7, Femi Ilesanmi 7, Lindon Meikle 7, Russell Penn 8, Tom Platt 7, Anthony Straker 9, Ryan Jarvis 7, Michael Coulson 8.
Subs: Ben Hirst (for Ryan Jarvis, 77). Not used: Ingham, Parslow, Lowe, Summerfield Montrose, Murray.
City star man: Anthony Straker.
Jed Steer, Liam Wakefield, Jamie McCombe (Rob Jones, 81), Luke McCullough, Cedric Evina, James Coppinger, Marc de Val Fernandez, Dean Furman, Kyle Bennett (Harry Forrester, 65), Theo Robinson, Curtis Main (Paul Keegan, 90). Not used: Marko Marosi, Nathan Tyson, Alex Peterson, Ben Askins.
Referee: Mark Haywood (Cheshire).
Bookings: Jamie McCombe 36, de Val Hernandez 57.
Red cards: None.
Attendance: 3,357 (1,073 away fans).
Shots on target: City 7, Rovers 4.
Shots off target: City 4, Rovers 2.
Corners: City 9, Rovers 3.
Fouls conceded: City 9, Rovers 8.
Offside: City 0, Rovers 1.