YORK City manager Gary Mills blamed a slip in standards for his side’s second-half demise during a 3-0 Boxing Day defeat at Chesterfield.
Goals by Drew Talbot, Danny Whitaker and Tendayi Darikwa, all scored after the interval at the Proact Stadium, sealed City’s fate after a promising opening 45 minutes from the visitors in Derbyshire.
The defeat means the mid-table Minstermen are now six points behind Saturday’s hosts Fleetwood, who currently occupy the final play-off position.
Reflecting on the Chesterfield game, Mills said: “Football’s a 90-minute game and you have to play to the level we did during the first 45 minutes for the whole match if you want to get a result in this League, but our standards slipped and we lost our discipline and shape.
“In the first half, we were on our front foot and our shape and ball retention was excellent. There was not an abundance of chances, but I was pleased with how we were doing coming to a side like Chesterfield because we were in their faces.
“We weren’t as good in the second half and that cost us three goals and the game. We were too deep right from the restart and it was disappointing to concede so early in the half.”
Mills was also unimpressed with the nature of the goals shipped by his team, with an unmarked Talbot netting from six yards following a free-kick and Darikwa’s goal following an under-hit Chris Smith back pass.
“They were poor goals to concede,” Mills complained. “We gave them the third and that was game over then – there was no way back.
“I’d have to look at the first one again because, even though it was a great ball in, their player looks like he’s put it in from inside our six-yard box.”
Mills was, nevertheless, adamant the final outcome could have been different had referee Christopher Sarginson awarded his team a penalty when Jason Walker looked to be dragged down by Liam Cooper just four minutes after Talbot had opened the scoring.
“It looked like a penalty to me,” the City boss claimed. “I was a long way away but Jason says it was and everybody appealed for it.
“I don’t know why the referee had to look over to his assistant because he had a clear view and, if he’d given that penalty, it might have changed the game.”
Vale push on as Gillingham fall to Barnet
Port Vale closed the gap on npower League Two leaders Gillingham to two points after triumphing 2-1 at Rotherham.
Vale took the lead when Ryan Burge’s pass fell to Louis Dodds to prod home and soon after Tom Pope added a second, before home substitute Kieran Agard was on target to set up an anxious finish.
Gillingham saw their lead trimmed after losing 1-0 at home to Barnet with Jake Hyde’s first-half strike settling the contest at Priestfield Stadium.
Cheltenham bounced back from their surprise 4-1 defeat at Rochdale with a 4-0 drubbing of Wycombe.
Southend extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches with a brace from Gavin Tomlin helping them beat Dagenham & Redbridge 3-0.
Bradford remain just adrift of a top-four berth after defeating Accrington Stanley 2-1 thanks to goals from Garry Thompson and Alan Connell.
Oxford made it five games unbeaten with an impressive 3-1 victory at Exeter.
Former York City boss John Ward earned a point on his managerial return to Bristol Rovers after the Pirates left it late to earn a 2-2 draw at fellow strugglers Aldershot.