NIGEL Worthington confessed that Michael Coulson has been unlucky to lose his starting place at York City after the winger’s key role in the win at high-flying Fleetwood.

The Bootham Crescent boss made his admission after seeing substitute Coulson set up Wes Fletcher for an injury-time winner in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Cod Army.

Coulson was dropped from the first XI following the 2-0 defeat at Hartlepool and, after featuring from the bench in last week’s 2-0 loss to Chesterfield, was given another cameo at Highbury for City’s tiring full-debutant Will Hayhurst on 83 minutes and his impact proved decisive.

Worthington could not have been more pleased with his contribution, saying: “Michael has been very unfortunate to miss out in the last two matches.

“I have explained that to him but the game is no longer about 11 players and that was summed up at the end when we took a player off who had done a good job and brought another one on, like Michael, who is capable of doing what he did.

“It was a good move on the left side and he worked his way into the box before putting a ball across the face of goal which is always dangerous because there is a chance somebody will get a touch and it ended up getting us the winning goal.

“Prior to that, all 11 players had been at it all game, but it was just a case of young Hayhurst, who played as well as anybody else, picking up cramp.

“We had the ideal replacement to come on and I keep telling the players it’s not a team game, it’s a squad game, so you have to keep a clear head and be ready when you are called upon to do a job.”

Following on from a disappointing showing against Fleetwood’s promotion-chasing rivals Chesterfield, Worthington reasoned that Saturday’s triumph now represented a “benchmark” for the standards he expects from his team between now and the end of the campaign, starting with this weekend’s home match with fellow mid-table outfit Cheltenham.

He added: “We were playing a very good side so, to go there and take all three points, was a very good achievement. We did what we are good at and, when we do that, we can get good results.

“We got off to a decent start and grew into the game the more it went on so I am delighted with the three points. This result is a benchmark now because, in such difficult conditions with the cold, wind and rain, we played some very good football which we didn’t do against Chesterfield.

“It’s Cheltenham at home next and we have got to stay focused and get our teeth into the game and show the same resilience, courage and guts to get another good result because winning at Fleetwood is a good platform to work off but, if we get an inept performance this weekend, Saturday’s game will count for nothing.”

City were without skipper David McGurk at Fleetwood due to a back injury, meaning midfielder Russell Penn donned the armband and Keith Lowe and John McCombe were paired together at the heart of the defence for the first time.

On that switch, the City manager said: “Dave’s back spasm did not clear up at all, even though we gave him every chance to recover but, hopefully, we will get him back in good shape this week. John played there with Keith instead and had a good, solid game.

“I said to the players at half-time that the whole game would change in the second half because we were playing against the wind.

“We knew that there would be a lot of balls going into our box and that Jon Parkin is a handful getting knock downs but we dealt with it and got what we deserved.”