SUPERSTITON counted for little at Morecambe as, instead of providing the setting for a case of third time lucky for York City, Christie Park witnessed the completion of a hat-trick of first-round exits in the FA Trophy.

City are yet to taste victory in the competition since their relegation from the Football League in 2004 with previous knockout blows delivered by Burton and Northwich.

Saturday's 2-1 defeat also meant the KitKat Crescent club have now lost at Morecambe in three successive seasons.

At least Billy McEwan's men should not need to wait long to try to correct that sorry record with the Conference visit to the Shrimps scheduled for New Year's Day.

Perhaps by then, with the transfer window reopening, Morecambe striker Michael Twiss might also have moved on because the former Manchester United trainee, as on most previous meetings between the two clubs, was the best player on the pitch.

Twiss, playing in a wide-left role, scored Morecambe's first goal direct from a corner and then created the second with a masterful dribble into the City penalty-box.

His manager Sammy McIlroy reckons the former Chester forward, despite being just 28, could still play in the Championship with more belief.

Twiss has never appeared short on confidence against City but, on Saturday, he received a helping hand from the visitors in claiming his 11th goal of the season with goalkeeper Tom Evans bundling his 56th-minute, inswinging flag-kick into the back of the net at his near post.

Twiss' contribution for Wayne Curtis' second goal four minutes later owed little to City's seasonal spirit.

He displayed excellent close control to weave his way past Anthony Lloyd and David McGurk before drilling a low shot against Evans' right-hand post.

The ball then spun and came to a stop one yard from goal, where substitute Curtis was waiting to complete the formality of finding an unguarded net.

In two actions, Twiss, had won the match for Morecambe.

Sadly, for City, Craig Farrell fell short when presented with the same opportunity at the other end.

Four minutes before Twiss opened the scoring, Farrell lifted a gilt-edged chance over the bar with only home 'keeper Steven Drench to beat after Clayton Donaldson had sent him clear.

The misfiring former Exeter striker then failed to control in front of goal when picked out by a Lewis McMahon cross.

Less than ten minutes later, City trailed 2-0 and Donaldson's well-executed 15th goal of the season could not rescue the tie.

The ex-Hull striker bent the ball expertly with the outside of his right boot into Drench's bottom corner from 15 yards after his intial shot had been blocked by Morecambe captain Jim Bentley.

But Donaldson's 78th-minute effort was one of only two on-target attempts from the visitors all afternoon.

Captain Manny Panther managed the first, charging unopposed into the penalty box to collect Martyn Woolford's through ball before Drench smothered his 23rd-minute effort.

In a dreary first half, Farrell also curled narrowly wide from 15 yards while an upright kept Michael Howard's drive out at his near post and Twiss and Garry Thompson both volleyed waywardly over the visitors' bar.

Following the second half goals, Evans went some way to atoning for his earlier error by saving late efforts from Twiss and Curtis.

Steve Bowey went closest to forcing a replay for City after Donaldson, so rarely replaced in his City career, was substituted on 82 minutes.

The ex-Queen of the South midfielder flashed a shot wide from 15 yards and then saw penalty appeals rejected when he collided with Shrimps full-back Adam Yates.

City's early exit and Morecambe's continued presence in the Trophy could prove a blessing in disguise in terms of both team's league fortunes with a congested fixture programme never ideal for play-off contenders.

McEwan's post-match mood, however, illustrated his disappointment with the result. With £88,000 in prize money for the winners and the possibility, albeit surely a long shot, of a final at the new Wembley, it remains to be seen whether the competition's pros outweigh its cons.

Billy rails at defence, the referee and even at City's own pitch

YORK City boss Billy McEwan admitted he nearly fell off his dugout chair in shock after watching his team sloppily concede the opening goal at Morecambe, writes Dave Flett.

The home side's first goal was scored direct from a corner kick by Michael Twiss as City 'keeper Tom Evans and his defence failed to deal with his inswinging delivery.

An unimpressed McEwan said afterwards: "To go behind like that is just not good enough. I nearly fell out of the dugout because I couldn't believe it.

"Tom felt there were players in front of him that could have headed it away, but it's all about spotting danger and somebody taking the responsibility to clear it."

For the second successive week, McEwan also claimed his side were denied a penalty for handball, saying: "It was so blatant that I think the player had enough time to sign his autograph on the ball, but we didn't get one here last season when Clayton Donaldson was brought down. Maybe the ref needs to go to Specsavers.

"That penalty decision was a big moment for me although it did not excuse the way we played in the early stages.

"We did not get going until we were 2-0 down.

"We have started the last two games slowly and you can't do that."

McEwan made only one change at Morecambe, recalling Lewis McMahon to the starting line-up after deciding not to risk midfielder Neal Bishop, who was nursing a slight hamstring pull but is likely to play against Halifax on Saturday.

The Minstermen will be returning to KitKat Crescent after three successive away matches but McEwan said: "I'm not particularly looking forward to playing there again because we've got the worst pitch in the league."

Match facts

Morecambe 2(Twiss 56, Curtis 61), York City 1 (Donaldson 79) Evans 6, Lloyd 7, Goodliffe 6, McGurk 7, Peat 7, McMahon 5 (Craddock 69, 6), Bowey 7, Panter 7, Woolford 5 (Greenwood 74), Donaldson 6 (Webster 82), Farrell 5.

Key: 10 - Faultless; 9 - Outstanding; 8 - Excellent; 7 - Good; 6 - Average; 5 - Below par; 4 - Poor; 3 - Dud; 2 - Hopeless; 1 - Retire

Subs (not used): Reid, Dudgeon.

Star man: Panther - worked hard throughout and drove City on when tie looked a lost cause.

Morecambe: Steven Drench, Adam Yates, Jim Bentley, Chris Blackburn, Michael Howard, Craig Stanley, Fraser McLachlan (Conal Platt, 55), Michael Twiss, Adriano Rigoglioso (Jamie Burns, 74), Garry Thompson (Wayne Curtis, 53). Subs not used: Scott Davies, Ged Brannan.

Bookings: Bowey 90.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Craig Evans (Lincolnshire) Rating: Generally okay although another who won't be on Billy McEwan's Christmas Card list.

Attendance: 1,017.

Weather watch: Surprisingly mild and dry for a change.

Game breaker: Farrell's missed chance just four minutes before Morecambe broke the deadlock.

Match rating: Poor first half. Both sides improved in the second when Morecambe illustrated why they are strong play-off contenders again.

Billy's verdict: "They did not have to work hard for their goals and you can't give a side like Morecambe a two-goal start."

Player watch - Lewis McMahon

Goal attempts on target: 0Goal attempts off target: 2Blocked goal attempts: 0Passes to own player: 24Passes to opposition: 15Crosses to own player: 1Crosses to opposition: 3Pass success rate: 58.1 per centDribbles ball retained: 2Dribbles ball lost: 4Dribble success rate: 20 per centHeaders: 1Tackles: 2Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 34Free-kicks won: 0Free-kicks conceded: 0Offsides: 0Bookings: 0Final summary: Lewis McMahon struggled to have an influence on the game in City's midfield before being replaced on 69 minutes. Hit far too many stray passes and both his shots in the game were well off target. Looks the kind of player who needs to play regularly to stay fit and produce his best form.