NIGEL Worthington continued to talk down York City’s promotion hopes despite his team now only lying outside the Sky Bet League Two play-off zone due to goal difference.
The Minstermen drew level on points with seventh-placed Southend following a Ryan Bowman penalty and Josh Carson’s fifth goal of the season during an impressive 2-0 home win over Wycombe.
It was a result that represented City’s fourth straight victory, extended the side’s unbeaten run to an eighth game and moved the club beyond the 51-point mark Worthington set to secure Football League status for another season.
But he did not propose any further specific targets following Saturday’s triumph, simply saying: “We have got to keep doing what we are doing and not get carried away or distracted by anything someone might say or write.
“We’ve got all to play for and the lads have been tremendous, so we’ve just got to gain as many points as possible from the game we have left. We’ve got 27 to play for and, if we keep the solidity we have in the team, there is a chance we can pick up a fair number of them.”
Bowman and Carson both netted in a first half described as the best the City boss has witnessed from his players.
“The first 45 minutes was probably as good as I have seen from us,” Worthington enthused. “The movement, energy and invention in the team was fantastic.
“Ryan slotted another penalty away nicely and Josh’s goal took the pressure off our forwards and we have got to continue doing that. You know, at some stage over the course of 90 minutes, the opposition will try and halt you and we had a stiff breeze in our faces during the second half but we kept a clean sheet and stayed in control for a big three points.”
Worthington added that Carson’s goal was the reward for his willingness to try his luck from distance.
The ex-Ipswich winger’s 25-yard drive deceived Wycombe keeper Matt Ingram when it bounced off the Bootham Crescent turf and the City manager joked: “Josh hit a volley that was more Van Morrison than Van Basten in the first half, but it’s important to pull the trigger because, if you don’t, you won’t score.
“You’ve got to have a go and also be prepared to follow in as well because the goal areas will be bobbly during the next seven or eight weeks. There will be bits and pieces floating about for you if you are bright and Josh is a great character who is full of energy.
“The spirit in our group is good and it’s important that we keep that.”
Centre-back Keith Lowe, meanwhile, was denied his first goal for the clib when an 11th-minute header was controversially ruled out by referee Steven Rushton.
On that incident, Worthington said: “It was disallowed because of Michael Coulson being around their keeper apparently but I couldn’t see a problem. It was a fantastic set-piece from Will Hayhurst.
“He whipped it in with pace and Keith met it well with his head. I am just disappointed for him and us that it didn’t count because it was a fantastic goal.”
But the ex-Northern Ireland boss also felt his side were guilty of passing up several opportunities to add to their first-half lead, explaining: “We did not have enough bodies piling in on top of their keeper from crosses into the box so, while there are plenty of good things at the moment, there are still little bits we can improve on. We are by no means the finished article and there is a lot of work to be done, so we will carry on working on that.”
The team’s profligacy meant an excellent far-post interception by Ben Davies seconds before Carson’s second goal proved a pivotal moment, highlighting the teenage left back’s growing maturity, according to Worthington.
“For me, Ben came here as a young lad and he will be finishing the season a man,” the Minstermen chief claimed. “He has grown in stature and he wants to learn.
“He takes information on board and it was a good piece of defending prior to our second goal. He was where a full back should be and made sure the ball didn’t go in the net.
“That’s credit to him because he’s working hard at his game to improve.”
Attention has now switched to Saturday’s visit to fallen giants Portsmouth and Worthington is hoping his players will relish the chance to play in front of a big crowd at the club’s famous Fratton Park home.
He said: “There will be around 16,000 fans in the stadium next week and the game of football is all about big players stepping into big arenas and enjoying the occasion.”