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York City chief says Matty Blair’s got legs and goals for midfield role
YORK City manager Gary Mills believes last season’s leading marksman Matty Blair can carry on playing in midfield after his scoring return to the team at Aldershot.
Blair was preferred to Jonathan Smith in City’s engine-room at the Recreation Ground and responded by giving his team the lead in Saturday’s 2-0 triumph during a strong second-half performance.
Two goals in four minutes secured maximum points for the Minstermen with Jason Walker converting a penalty after Blair’s 48th-minute strike.
It was the second time this season that Mills had tried winger Blair in a midfield role, having also done so during last month’s 2-2 draw with Chesterfield.
And, on that tactical option, the City chief said: “I quite like ‘Blairy’ in that midfield role. He’s got the legs to do it and can run in behind teams from the centre of the park.
“He scored two like that in the reserve game at Doncaster on Monday and it’s nice to have him back scoring goals. I didn’t think we got going in the first half and it was a bit dead but we addressed that at half-time.
“‘Blairy’ needed the game because he’s not played too many minutes but I thought he got his second wind in the second half.
“He will get fitter and sharper the more games he has and we know how honest he is and that he will always pop up with goals.”
On his decision to leave summer signing Smith out of his squad of 18 completely, Mills explained: “Jonathan Smith is fine.
“There’s no problem with him but he hasn’t really been the player I wanted when I brought him back to the club.
“He knows that because there’s nobody more honest than Jonathan Smith.
“I just thought it was time for him to sit in the stand, watch a game and think about it. We got the result so it worked for us, but he’ll be back.”
Mills went on to praise the 357 City fans who made the journey to Hampshire as well as Walker, who also had a hand in Blair’s goal.
He said: “I am very happy. We had numerous chances to score more than our two goals and, along with that, we got a clean sheet, which is excellent.
“Their ’keeper pulled off two or three good saves, which is all credit to him but, when that happens, you just have to keep believing and I thought Jason Walker was unbelievable and outstanding for us.
“He deserved to get the penalty and to convert it the way he did and our supporters were absolutely superb too.”
Captain Chris Smith and Chris Doig also retained their places in the centre of defence despite the return of former Premier League performer Clarke Carlisle from an ankle injury.
On that decision, Mills added: “It was another I had to make and it proved the right one because we kept a clean sheet.
“‘Doigy’ was going back to his old club and I’m pleased for him that we got the result.
“I’m paid to make decisions and the best thing that is everybody who is left out or on the bench reacts excellently. We have a lot of games coming up and it's a squad game.”
Two players that will not figure in the next month for City, however, are transfer-listed striker Liam Henderson and first-year professional Tom Platt.
Explaining his decision to farm the pair on loan to Gainsborough Trinity and Harrogate Town respectively, Mills said: “They both needed to go out.
“Tom won’t get in my first team at this moment so he needs games somewhere else. With Liam, it’s not worked out for him at York.
“We’ve been trying to get him out and Gainsborough Trinity have come in for him.
“I am pleased for him because, even if he does not end up there, it gives him the platform to show people he can play and I am sure he will find the right club to suit him.”