YORK City boss Gary Mills is on a mission to turn Louis Almond into a better player by making him work harder than he has ever done in his career.

Almond teed up every goal in City’s 5-0 National League North victory at Bradford Park Avenue, leading to Amari Morgan-Smith (2), Dan Parslow, Sean Newton and home defender Luca Havern all getting on the scoresheet.

But Mills was just as pleased with Almond’s industry as his creativity, with the City chief arguing that the former Blackpool and Tranmere attacker’s progress in the game has been halted in the past because his effort levels have not matched his undoubted talent.

Outlining his challenge to Almond this term, Mills said: “Louis dropped out of training on Friday and said his legs were aching and I told him it’s because he’s never worked so hard.

“But you have to enjoy working hard and he’s not worked hard enough in his career. He knows that and I’ve told him I will turn him into a player just by working hard, because he’s got ability.

“You just need that discipline to work hard too and, if he doesn’t show that, he won’t play, but I thought he was immense against Bradford. He’s 25 and I’m pleased we’ve got him, because his best years should still be ahead of him.

“He didn’t score, even though he had the cheek to try and claim the own goal. But, if he works as hard as he did again, he will probably get one against Darlington on Tuesday.”

Mills once more reiterated that Almond and fellow attacker Morgan-Smith will need to emulate the endeavour of 2012 double-Wembley winners Matty Blair and Ashley Chambers if the team’s switch to 4-3-3 is going to continue bearing fruit, with the Park Avenue thrashing, following the 2-0 triumph at Blyth using the same formation.

“I’ve spoken about how Matty Blair and Ashley Chambers used to come off the lines and hurt teams, then drop into defensive areas when we didn’t have the ball and you need to do that with the system were playing now,” Mills reasoned. “We’ve worked on that and are getting better at it.

“I know they both want to score goals, but now we know they can do the other side too.”

Mills also learned that his team can still find the net on a regular basis without talismanic striker Jon Parkin, who topped the goal charts last term on 16, following his December arrival from Newport.

Fellow targetman Michael Rankine was passed fit after a hamstring problem to replace Parkin and the City chief pointed out: “We’ve got players who can score goals.

“They’ve all done that in their careers and will continue to do so, which you need in any team. It was nice to score five with probably our main striker, whose career has always been about scoring goals, sat in the stand.

“It was nice to get Ranks back, because I feel that presence down the middle is important. He worked hard and won a lot of headers but, at 4-0, he came off because we didn’t want to risk his hamstring.

“He’s had a scan on it and got the all clear so, hopefully, he’ll be fine now because, sometimes, players just need to know there’s nothing there to get back out on the pitch. Jon’s still a bit sore and we’ll have to see how his calf settles before the Darlington game.

“Alex Whittle has also been feeling his Achilles for a couple of weeks, so we took him off as a precaution too.”

Former Cheltenham marksman Morgan-Smith grabbed City’s second and third goals, but Mills reasoned they shouldn’t have been his first of the campaign, arguing: “He’ll be disappointed not to be sitting on six goals now.

“He got two against Bradford, but probably had better chances at Blyth. If you work hard like Amari does, though, you get your rewards.

“He was on a hat-trick, but he came off because he’d played three games in a week and I told him Cask (football consultant Darren Caskey) made that decision anyway.”

Six of City’s seven goals this term have now been scored in the first half of games and Mills stressed the importance of continuing to come out of the blocks quickly.

“How you start a game often dictates how it will go and we started really well,” he explained. “It was an excellent first half and we dominated the whole 45 minutes.”

With more than 800 City supporters making the short journey to West Yorkshire, Mills was also delighted to reward them with the club’s biggest victory since he oversaw a 7-0 demolition of Kettering in December 2011 during his first spell at the Bootham Crescent helm.

“I’m pleased for the fans, because they turned out in their numbers and haven’t seen that for a long time,” he enthused. “We’ve got to build on it now.”

The only blemish for City at the Horsfall Stadium saw Hamza Bencherif sent off on 73 minutes for a second bookable offence when he tugged on ex-Bootham Crescent forward Adam Boyes’ shirt.

Mills blamed sloppiness for the indiscretion and warned: “A couple of players lost their shape and discipline at 4-0 up and you can’t do that.

“It was a matter of poor decision making for the sending off. Mokes (Adriano Moke) got a bit lazy with his pass and, at 0-0, I don’t think he would have done that.

“I don’t think Hamza would have run out with the ball on a difficult pitch either. He should have booted it out of the ground and not doing that has cost him a red card because he lost the ball and pulled somebody back.

“Their player would have got away from him, so I agreed it was another booking.”