YORK City boss Jackie McNamara has taken on more loans in recent months than Coronation Street’s Tyrone Dobbs.
Both have been motivated with hope in mind but, while debt-ridden Tyrone still has Fizz, that was missing during a lacklustre display by McNamara’s misfiring Minstermen.
The former Dundee United chief gave three more temporary troops their debuts – Luke Hendrie and Kyle Cameron from the start and Ntumba Massanka from the bench – but Aaron Collins’ eighth-minute goal proved sufficient to move fellow strugglers Newport seven points clear of their beleaguered, bottom-of-the-table hosts.
None of the new recruits – the club’s 12th, 13th and 14th loan reinforcements of a turbulent campaign – could be held responsible for the defeat, indeed Hendrie and Cameron both fared well in yet another revamped back four.
But, while Alex Ferguson was largely credited with building four different sides during his three-decade dynasty, McNamara has now all but emulated his celebrated compatriot in as many months.
Team-mates and fans alike, therefore, were once more required to familiarise themselves with a fresh mixture of players entrusted with the weighty responsibility of saving a sorry season.
Ferguson, of course, was once famously told he would never win anything with kids before his team of fledglings won the league-and-cup double.
It remains to be seen whether McNamara’s policy of signing under-21 rookies proves just as unpredictably adroit in the dogfight for Football League survival.
Perhaps McNamara can, in that respect, take some consolation, on what was another desperately disappointing afternoon otherwise, from the fact that 18-year-old matchwinner Collins was the second-youngest player on the Bootham Crescent pitch behind Cameron.
Collins’ decisive strike came from the first shot of the match when he rode ineffective challenges by Kenny McEvoy and Luke Summerfield before driving a low 20-yard shot into Scott Flinders’ bottom-right corner.
City had handed Newport the ascendancy from the first whistle with McEvoy and Danny Galbraith, supposed members of the hosts’ front three, puzzlingly sitting deep, almost on top of their team-mates at full back.
Shortly after his goal, Collins went close to adding a second when he again shrugged off last-man Summerfield before beating Flinders with a dipping attempt that narrowly cleared the crossbar.
In between, Oliver saw a decent penalty shout rejected after he tangled legs with ex-Minsterman Ben Davies, but Medy Elito went on to hit the base of Flinders’ left-hand upright after a cross from right-back Danny Holmes was allowed to travel all the way to the far post.
City awoke from their slumber to force a flurry of corners, delivered by James Berrett, that led to four chances for Dave Winfield.
He guided the first well wide before heading just inches too high with the next two.
His final attempt, meanwhile, was on target but County’s top-scorer Scott Boden was well-positioned to make a goal-line clearance.
Summerfield’s curling free kick was also kept out low at his near post by on-loan Chelsea debutant Mitchell Beeney, while Oliver headed wide at the far post after Russell Penn had released an overlapping Femi Ilesanmi down the left.
After the break, Penn lifted an edge-of-the-box opportunity over before Oliver missed out on a chance to add to his modest tally of six league goals this term.
He rose high to meet Summerfield’s left-wing cross four yards from goal but was thwarted by an excellent reflex save by Beeney on 52 minutes.
Despite introducing prolific Burnley U21 striker Massanka and switching to 4-4-2, City only mustered one more shot in their search for a vital equaliser with substitute Michael Coulson’s tame 20-yard attempt failing to trouble Beeney.
As the game petered out, half-chances for Collins and Elito were not taken either but, with new County boss Warren Feeney freely admitting before the game that he would have happily taken a point from the contest, he must have been surprised how comfortably his side secured all three.
There was no grandstand finish of the kind that all too often compensated for all kinds of shortcomings during Russ Wilcox’s reign and the final whistle was greeted by an understandable chorus of boos from the frustrated and long-suffering Bootham Crescent faithful.
The players and management staff must now demonstrate that they are as desperate as those supporters to see the club stave off the threat of a return to non-League football.
There can be no more talk of spirits being good within the camp because, quite frankly, they shouldn’t be.
Only an Aston Villa side, enduring a dreadful top-flight campaign, have picked up fewer points from this country’s top four divisions and there should be a heavy dose of embarrassment and shame about that record.
Nobody expects contented players in such scenarios.
Faces of thunder, with a determination to put things right, would be much more preferable.
Players and coaches are never going to care about a club as much as its fans.
That is unrealistic, especially for those in the squad whose affinity is merely days old, but the squad need to be made quickly aware, nevertheless, of how much work, not in the least from the club’s board, went into regaining Football League status and appreciate what a devastating blow it would be to relinquish it again.
Scott Flinders: 6 – had little to do after picking the ball out of his net early on
Luke Hendrie: 7 – whole-hearted and plucky with just a bit more quality needed distribution wise
STAR MAN Dave Winfield: 8 – marshalled another new-look back four and an attacking threat
Kyle Cameron: 7 – coped well on his professional debut and held his own physically
Femi Ilesanmi: 7 – delivered a dangerous cross in first half but less decisive going forward at other times
Russell Penn: 6 – used ball well on occasions but City need him back to his inspirational best
Luke Summerfield: 5 – passing was off radar but not helped by lack of options in front of him
James Berrett: 5 – contributed from corners but peripheral in open play
Kenny McEvoy: 5 – weak challenge for the goal and fairly anonymous thereafter
Vadaine Oliver: 5 – couldn’t score from his two headers and lacked urgency
Danny Galbraith: 5 – had little impact in the final third of the pitch prior to withdrawal
Substitutes: Ntumba Massanka 5 – raw (for Galbraith, 56), Michael Coulson 5 – rusty (for Summerfield, 69).
Subs not used: Josh Carson, George Swan, Matty Dixon, Michael Ingham, Bradley Fewster.
Mitchell Beeney, Danny Holmes, Janoi Donacien, Andrew Hughes, Ben Davies, Connor Dymond (Scott Barrow, 76), Matt Partridge (Yan Klukowski, 30), Mark Byrne, Medy Elito, Scott Boden (Matt Taylor, 90), Aaron Collins. Subs not used: Nathan Ralph, Seth Nana Twumasi, Joe Green, Tom Owen-Evans.
Newport star man: Donacien – solid presence at the back
Referee: Darren England rating: 7/10 – on top of most things
Booked: Dymond 36.
Attendance: 2,933 (116 from Newport)
Shots on target: City 4, Newport 3
Shots off target: City 7, Newport 4
Corners: City 9, Newport 1
Fouls conceded: City 9, Newport 13
Offsides: City 2, Newport 1