YORK City manager Gary Mills insisted his team’s battling performance in a 1-1 draw at Cheltenham proved his players are no soft touch.
Mills believes there is a theory in certain League Two circles that his side cannot cut it in a physical contest.
But, after watching Jason Walker’s 84th-minute equaliser cancel out Shaun Harrad’s second-half goal for the hosts, Mills was delighted that his side demonstrated they are no pushovers against Mark Yates’ competitive promotion hopefuls.
The Minstermen chief said: “The result against Exeter in our last match was cruel on us, but we’ve gone to Cheltenham and put in a strong performance against a strong side.
“We gave as good as we got and proved we can mix it, even though a lot of teams in this division think we can’t.
“When we needed to put our foot in or hook the ball away we did and I was very happy with the lads. The response after their goal was immense and it’s another big point against another team who will know York City are a tough side to beat.”
An injury to Alex Rodman, coupled with the absence of fellow wingers Ashley Chambers, Oli Johnson and Michael Coulson, caused Mills to experiment with a new 4-1-3-2 formation at Whaddon Road.
Rodman, who is ineligible for this weekend’s home match against parent club Aldershot anyway, pulled a hamstring muscle during Friday afternoon’s training session in Gloucestershire, leading to a recall for Lanre Oyebanjo at right-back with Dan Parslow shielding the defence in midfield and Matty Blair pushing up front to partner Walker in attack.
On the system’s success, Mills added: “We’ve not had much luck with strikers and, when Alex Rodman pulled his hamstring, I had to have a think and I fancied Blairy through the middle with his pace and he got in a couple of times.
“We also had Pars working in front of the back four and he’s disciplined in there, which is what we wanted. Lanre did not get out of defence as much as we would have liked because they are a direct side and they pushed us back, but I thought the system worked well for us really.”
Following Walker’s goal, City still needed to rely on ’keeper Michael Ingham to make a stoppage-time double save to deny Jermaine McGlashan and Harrad, which also earned him the plaudits of his manager, who enthused: “Inghy’s double save was magnificent. He picked up a lot of pace to get across those two or three yards to make the second one and that’s superb.”
Mills is now hoping the neck injury that caused centre-back David McGurk to be stretchered off after Harrad’s goal will clear up in time for the Aldershot game, saying: “He got spasms from his neck right down his back and was in a neck brace after he came off but we think he will be okay for next week.”
McGurk was replaced by teenager Tom Allan, but Mills also had praise for the response of another substitute, Jamie Reed, who was given a 20-minute run out despite handing in a transfer request last week. The City boss added: “Reedy might want to move on but I brought him on and he did a professional job and did well for us.”