WITH only two wins from their last ten trips to Kidderminster, York City supporters have grown accustomed to the host club’s famous Cottage Pies being the highlight of many a visit to Aggborough.

Indeed, during the first half of this latest Midlands pilgrimage, only braved by 89 hardy away souls, it seemed like the Harriers were set to make mincemeat of Martin Gray’s men such was their dominance in possession.

Two goals in as many minutes from James Pearson and Emmanuel Sonupe gave the home side an advantage at the break that did not flatter last season’s National League North runners-up, given their superiority during those opening 45 minutes.

But, just as those of a City persuasion were beginning to despair at their team’s inability to mount a befitting defence of the FA Trophy they won for a second time in May at Wembley, the away team at least mounted a bit of a fight after the interval.

Substitute Amari Morgan-Smith reduced the deficit on 76 minutes and, as the first-round tie entered its final throes, the visitors came close on several occasions to forcing a replay, most notably in stoppage time when Daniel Rowe rattled a post and Jon Parkin forced a fingertip save.

In the final analysis, City had managed two more goal attempts than John Eustace’s side, who have not lost on their own soil since the opening day of the season.

The visitors, playing in a blue-and-white strip necessitated by Kidderminster’s red-and-white colours, also won the corner count ten to four, although such statistics cloud the balance of play until Morgan-Smith’s spectacular reply breathed belief into his team.

Earlier, the Midlands outfit had bossed the opening exchanges, passing the ball around crisply with confidence, although they might have penetrated City’s back line with great purpose.

It took a poor ball out of defence by City centre-back Jonny Burn to present Kiddy with their first shot of the afternoon on 11 minutes and Sonupe only succeeded in blazing out of the ground from distance.

Joe Ironside’s far-post header after Sam Austin spun off Adriano Moke and delivered a cross from the right also failed to extend City keeper Adam Bartlett, while Sonupe drove wide with a 20-yard attempt following a typically slick passing move.

City top scorer Parkin then had two brief sights of goal, hooking a 25th-deflected chance on to the roof of the net, before volleying well over from 15 yards.

David Ferguson also saw home keeper Brandon Hall make a meal of gathering his tame right-footed, 15-yard effort at the second attempt and, moments later, Kidderminster were in front on 35 minutes.

Debilitated by a knock that should have probably seen him replaced earlier, City skipper Sean Newton could not keep pace with Ryan Croasdale as he charged into the box.

Croasdale’s shot was blocked, only for the ball to fall to gambling and galloping right-back Pearson, who beat a vulnerable Bartlett with his controlled volley from eight yards.

Within seconds, the advantage was doubled when Ferguson was caught napping and Sonupe charged on to a ball through the right channel.

Attempting to atone for his error, the England under-21 international then unwisely barged into the Harriers winger’s side, but he was spared a possible second red card of the season when Sonupe retained his balance sufficiently to guide his shot past an advancing Bartlett.

It was the kind of blunder that led to Josh Law’s axing from the side following a similarly-conceded goal against Coalville but, with Newton belatedly hobbling out of the action, the former was introduced from the bench and brought some much-needed calmness to the Minstermen’s play.

After the break, on-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Alex Pattison, virtually anonymous in the first period, suddenly posed questions from his position in the hole of a 4-3-1-2 formation.

On 49 minutes, his diagonal drive was kept out at the near post after a first opportunity was blocked.

At the other end, Austin curled off target following a weak Rowe clearance and Sonupe blasted into the sidenetting after sprinting past Hamza Bencherif through the left channel.

On the hour, Parkin went close from a free kick that brushed the top of the net, with a badly-positioned Hall seemingly beaten.

Bartlett had to react smartly, though, to push over a strong shot by sub James McQuilkin, whose resulting corner saw Fraser Horsfall head off target at the near post with Elton Ngwatala also whistling a long-range strike just wide.

After Morgan-Smith had headed waywardly from Moke’s right-wing cross, however, he found his range in emphatic style with his next goal attempt.

Picked out in the inside-left position by Law’s crossfield pass, Morgan-Smith curled a brilliant edge-of-the-box effort into Hall’s opposite top corner.

For a side that had struggled to stretch the hosts’ defence, Gray’s team then proceeded to create chance after chance.

Pattison drove narrowly wide from 20 yards before sending in a centre that saw Bencherif head across the face of goal.

Both players threatened again with a deflected Pattison shot looping over and Bencherif’s downward header saved low to his left by Hall.

With City adopting a gung-ho approach, they might have been punished twice on the counter attack, but Declan Weeks curled over from the edge of the box in a three-against-two situation and Sonupe sidefooted tamely at Bartlett after exploding through the left channel.

The visitors finished the match strongest, though, with Moke missing from just outside the penalty area, before Rowe’s well-struck 30-yard attempt hit the outside of Hall’s right-hand post.

A dipping edge-of-the-box volley Parkin was also pushed to safety by Hall and the Minstermen were out of a tournament they have won in each of the last two years they have competed in it.

For the first time since 2011, therefore, City fans know they will not be ending a non-League season at Wembley.

The players must now pull out all the stops to ensure 2017/18 is not concluded at Brackley instead on April 28 – the date when play-off places are scheduled to be finalised.

City ratings

Adam Bartlett 6 – left exposed for goals and did little wrong throughout

Daniel Rowe 6 – grew stronger in second half when moved back into midfield anchor role

Hamza Bencherif 6 – stood up to early Kidderminster examination and late goal threat

Jonny Burn 6 – looked a little uncertain on ball at times and gave away possession

David Ferguson 5 – caught out badly for hosts’ second goal and risked another red card

Adriano Moke 6 – worked hard to carry out manager’s instructions, including defensive duties

Sean McAllister 6 – showed his pedigree with some of his touches during a difficult first half

Sean Newton 5 – never looked right after early knock and might have stopped first goal if more mobile

Alex Pattison 7 – provided some genuine forward thrust as City got on front foot late on

Jon Parkin 6 – couldn’t quite drag his team into second-round hat, but always posed problems

James Gray 5 – did not influence game before second-half withdrawal

Substitutes: Josh Law 6 – assured (for Newton, 42), Amari Morgan-Smith 6 – clinical (for Gray, 58), Aidan Connolly 6 – scheming (for McAllister, 66).

Subs not used: Dan Parslow, Luke Simpson.

Star man: Pattison

Kidderminster: Brandon Hall, James Pearson, Fraser Horsfall, Tyrone Williams, Joel Taylor, Ryan Croasdale, Declan Weeks, Elton Ngwatala (Andre Wright, 85), Emmanuel Sonupe, Joe Ironside, Sam Austin (James McQuilkin, 61). Substitutes: Andre Brown, Liam Truslove, Lee Vaughan.

Kidderminster star man: Sonupe – explosive pace caused City trouble

Referee: Martin Woods rating: 7/10 – sensible with majority of decisions

Booked: Ngwatala 60, Rowe 71

Sent off: None

Attendance: 1,138 (89 from City)

Shots on target: Kidderminster 5, City 6

Shots off target: Kidderminster 7, City 8

Corners: Kidderminster 4, City 10

Fouls conceded: Kidderminster 15, City 11

Offside: Kidderminster 1, City 1