YORK City might be down after last night's 2-0 FA Trophy defeat at Torquay, but they are definitely not out ahead of next Saturday's semi-final, second leg at KitKat Crescent.

The pre-match excitement at the prospect of a Wembley trip led to inevitable disappointment at the final whistle last night, especially having gone so close to reaching the newly-developed home of English football last season.

But the Minstermen's performance, especially in the second half, should not lead KitKat Crescent regulars to make alternative plans for May 10 just yet.

Colin Walker's men managed more shots and forced more corners than their promotion-chasing hosts last night.

They also carved out great chances to take a goal into the return match, with David McGurk going close with two headers, Stuart Elliott rattling the crossbar, Manny Panther firing narrowly wide and Onome Sodje missing a stoppage-time sitter.

Two sloppy goals at the other end, conceded early in both halves, admittedly undermined some of the visitors' valiant and adventurous play but then Plainmoor was never going to be plain sailing.

Only League One outfit Brighton and Blue Square Premier play-off promotion contenders Aldershot, Cambridge and Burton have won there all season.

But on the road, Torquay have lost 2-0 to Grays and St Albans - a scoreline that would force the semi-final into extra-time come next Saturday.

The Devon club have also shipped four goals twice on their travels against Histon and Exeter, as well as conceding three at Oxford.

Having already defeated runaway league leaders Aldershot by the required two-goal margin at KitKat Crescent, City should not feel that next weekend's task is insurmountable, especially if a more intimidating atmosphere is created than the home fans managed in last night's surprisingly modest 2,886 crowd.

Torquay, nevertheless, forged ahead after just five minutes when Lee Phillips spun past Darren Kelly following a low ball into the penalty box from Lee Mansell.

Tim Sills then simply allowed the ball to hit him a yard from goal after Phillips' cross travelled across the face of goal to the far post.

City's first shot of the evening came five minutes later, but Martyn Woolford's 20-yard effort failed to trouble recalled home 'keeper Martin Rice.

Torquay regularly looked to play long balls in the gaps between and behind City's three-man defence during the first half and Phillips almost profited when Kelly allowed a hopeful punt to sail over his shoulder.

The former Exeter striker prodded the ball past an advancing Evans, but Kelly recovered to clear for a corner and McGurk then headed wide from a deep Craig Farrell cross at the other end.

On the stroke of half-time, though, Sills' header narrowly flashed past the near post from a Mansell cross and the home side doubled their lead less than a minute after the restart.

Parslow gave a free-kick away for climbing and, when Sills miscued Kevin Nicholson's centre, the ball fell fortuitously for Phillips, who completed the formality of tapping into an inviting net from a yard at the far post.

Rather than opting for damage limitation prior to the home leg, Walker's response was to switch to 4-4-2 with first Sodje and then Sam Duncum summoned off the bench with the latter and Woolford operating as out-and-out wingers. His bravery and adventure was almost rewarded.

Elliott struck the woodwork with an edge-of-the-box volley on 58 minutes and McGurk headed on to the roof of the net.

Torquay's potency on the break, which could be a dangerous weapon in seven days' time, saw Evans required to make a smart near-post save from Danny Stevens seconds later though and ex-Scarborough defender Nicholson also forced the City 'keeper into a low stop from 30 yards following a free-kick incorrectly awarded against McGurk.

But City had three great chances to pull a goal back in the last ten minutes.

First, Panther narrowly missed the target with a deflected 15-yard drive.

Then, Richard Brodie's header cleared the crossbar, before the best opportunity fell to Sodje in the fifth minute of injury time.

The 19-year-old blazed over from six yards after Brodie's firmly-driven cross had found him courtesy of a ricochet off a home defender's arm, according to the 6ft 4ins former Newcastle Benfield forward.

Brodie was dragged away by referee Gavin Ward after haranguing his assistant, but the Minstermen will know such profligacy cannot continue if City are to stage a successful comeback in the second leg.

Match report

Torquay United 2 (Sills 5, Phillips 46)

York City 0

Player ratings:

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

Tom Evans 7
Danny Parslow 6
David McGurk 8
Darren Kelly 6
Ben Purkiss 8
Anthony Lloyd 6
Stuart Elliott 7
Nicky Wroe 6
Manny Panther 6
Martyn Woolford 7
Craig Farrell 6

Substitutions: Onome Sodje (for Kelly, 51) 6
Sam Duncum (for Elliott, 62) 7
Richard Brodie (for Farrell, 70) 6
Subs not used: Mimms, Craddock.

City's star man: Purkiss - showed quality in possession and commitment throughout.

Torquay United: Martin Rice, Lee Mansell, Chris Todd, Mark Ellis, Kevin Nicholson, Danny Stevens, Matt Hockley, Chris Hargreaves, Chris Zebroski (Kiad Mohamed, 84), Tim Sills, Lee Phillips. Subs not used: Chris Robertson, Darren Mullings, Rosco Dsane, Mikkel Andersen.

Yellow cards: Zebroski 3.

Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).

Rating: the Football League ref made one or two puzzling decisions.

Attendance: 2,286.

Shots on target: Torquay 4 York 5

Shots off target: Torquay 4 York 7

Corners: Torquay 8 York 11

Fouls conceded: Torquay 12 York 6

Offsides: Torquay 3 York 0

Shot of the match: Stuart Elliott rattling the woodwork for the second time in three matches.

Sporting gesture of the match: Colin Walker insisting that Ben Purkiss throw the ball back to Torquay following a late injury after previous attempts by Manny Panther and Martyn Woolford had gone awry.

Miss of the match: Sodje's stoppage time chance that went begging.

City player watch: Centre-back David McGurk

Goal attempts on target: 0
Goal attempts off target: 2
Blocked goal attempts: 0
Passes to own player: 22
Passes to opposition: 1
Crosses to own player: 0
Crosses to opposition: 0
Pass success rate: 95.7 per cent
Dribbles ball retained: 0
Dribbles ball lost: 0
Dribble success rate: 0
per cent Headers: 24
Tackles: 5
Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 10
Free-kicks won: 0
Free-kicks conceded: 2
Offsides: 0
Bookings: 0

Final summary: David McGurk gave a typically combative performance for the Minstermen and also twice went close to scoring at the other end.

His performances for City over the last three seasons deserve a day out at Wembley and he coped well aerially with Torquay's direct approach, winning 24 headers.

His distribution - long and short - was also impressive with just one stray pass all evening.