YORK City boss Nigel Worthington has demanded that his players start Friday’s play-off, semi-final decider at Fleetwood in the same manner that they finished tonight’s first leg.
Worthington’s men lost 1-0 at Bootham Crescent, courtesy of a 50th-minute goal from former City favourites Matty Blair, with the former Northern Ireland chief feeling that certain players froze in the first half.
Following Blair’s goal, however, the hosts’ response was spirited and Worthington does not want anybody to suffer stage fright again on the Lancashire coast.
He said: “We were slow out of the blocks and there were a few nerves about. A few were shy in terms of their performance.
“Fleetwood won all the second balls in the first half and we have got to make sure we start from the first whistle on Friday night We need a high energy performance for 90 minutes, not 45 minutes.
“In big games, you need players to stand up and be counted. One or two didn’t in the first half and that puts you on the back foot.
“The crowd were fantastic and you have to step into that kind of arena and go and perform because these games don’t come around every season. There is a wonderful chance to do that again on Friday because I want to get to the final and so do our fans, so let’s put a shift in.”
Worthington also insisted his team still have a good chance of making the Wembley final on Monday, May 26, adding: “We are still very much in the tie and that’s the way we wanted it.
“We didn’t want them to be a goal to the good but the response was excellent in the second half and the York City that had been unbeaten in 17 games. There’s not a lot between the two teams.
“There wasn’t in the league games or last night and I don’t think it will be any different on Friday. After they scored, they had a couple of breakaways but that happens and we dealt with it.
“With a bit more rub of the green or more ruthlessness from ourselves, it could have been all square again. If Ryan Bowman had caught his chance sweeter and with more power, it might have beaten the keeper and Michael Coulson just shaved the post.”
Worthington also called on City’s players to follow the example of last night’s man-of-the-match Lanre Oyebanjo on Friday night with the rampaging right back carrying the game to Fleetwood in the second half.
“He was the beacon of what we are looking for,” the City chief said. “He was positive, drove at the opposition and got crosses in.
“We will be looking for the same from him and other people in the second leg.”