YORK City’s dead-ball deliveries were praised by manager Nigel Worthington following Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Exeter.
Both of the Minstermen’s first-half goals – scored by John McCombe and Michael Coulson – came from set plays.
McCombe headed in at the far post from an Adam Reed corner, while Ryan Bowman teed up Coulson after climbing highest to meet Will Hayhurst’s left-wing free-kick.
Exeter also reduced the deficit on 28 minutes from a corner and Worthington was quick to stress the importance of set pieces at the final whistle.
He said: “Our deliveries from set-pieces, whether they are taken by Adam Reed, Josh Carson or Will Hayhurst, are very good and that’s why I put pressure on the other players to get on the end of them. You cannot pinpoint a set-piece on to somebody’s head without the opposition trying to intercept it, so it’s all about players attacking the ball rather than waiting for it.
“I was disappointed with the goal we conceded because it was not like us, but I was delighted with our two from set-pieces because we do a lot of work on them. It’s very important to try to keep the ball in the box and it’s all about staying switched on.
“John charged in at the far post to get his goal, which he’s good at. We then kept the ball in for the second goal and Couls did what he does very well. He got the ball into his feet, turned quickly and got a great strike away.”
Worthington admitted his side rode their luck on the way to a first home victory in five games as Exeter responded strongly in the second period, but reasoned that the hosts were due some fortune.
“It was three great points and we had to work very hard for them,” Worthington said. “For the first 25 minutes, we played how we like to with a high tempo but, after going 2-0 up, we got a bit comfortable and untidy.
“We took our foot off the accelerator and, when you do that, it’s hard to put it back on. You have to keep doing what you are good at and not stray away from that to manage the game and see it through rather than creating a tense situation.
“They hit the post and probably should have scored but we performed very well in some games earlier in the season and didn’t get results. We got some luck against Exeter, but I am a big believer in what goes around, comes around.”
The City chief also switched to a 4-5-1 formation on 76 minutes in an effort to safeguard maximum points with Lewis Montrose introduced as a third central midfielder and fellow substitute Ryan Jarvis seeing out the game as a lone striker.
Worthington said: “We were getting over-run a little bit and, even though the ball probably came back a bit easier from up top after making the change, we have got enough at the back to deal with that and get a head or something on the ball. It was nice to get Jarv on the pitch for 20 minutes as well.”
The Minstermen moved up to tenth in Sky Bet League Two after their sixth win in 2014 and are now seven points short of a play-off place with Worthington keen to close that gap further.
He said: “I am looking at catching up on those top-seven places. Since the turn of the year, we have gone on a very good run.
“That’s been very pleasing and I want us to keep that going because, if we had been getting those results over the course of the season, we would be in the top three. First of all, we are homing in on the 51 points or so we need to make sure we stay in the League.
“Once we reach that goal, we will head towards the next one – whatever that may be.”
Worthington has succeeded in extending Preston winger Hayhurst’s loan stay at Bootham Crescent until the end of the season although the League One promotion hopefuls can recall him to Deepdale at any stage during the next two months.
“Hopefully, barring injuries at Preston, he will remain with us until the end of the season,” Worthington said of Hayhurst.
“He has been enjoying his football and we are delighted to have him.
“He has a great left foot and can whip in dangerous crosses with pace, which are difficult for goalkeepers to come out for.”
Top scorer Wes Fletcher was unavailable for a second consecutive weekend due to a groin injury with Worthington adding: “He’s coming on but his recovery has been a bit slower than he and we hoped.”