YORK City lost their fourth straight reserve game of the season, but put in a much-improved performance during the 3-1 loss at Rotherham.

The Minstermen trailed 2-0 at the break to Mason Warren and Jerry Yates goals, but were the better side during the second period with former Tranmere winger Adam Dawson, playing as a trialist, replying with a spectacular free kick.

Aaron Haswell and Aidan Connolly then hit the frame of the goal for the visitors, before Millers striker Joshua Kayode headed in a contentious third goal for his team.

Yates, 21, was the only Rotherham player with first-team appearances in League One to his name this term, although five others in the home squad have figured in the Checkatrade Trophy.

City, meanwhile, boasted seven players with professional experience, including Dawson who, along with his goal, displayed good ball control and skills in possession.

Alex Whittle, playing in an unfamiliar central-midfield role, had the visitors’ first opportunity of the afternoon, when he worked himself into some space 15 yards from goal and called Rotherham keeper Laurence Bilboe into action.

A determined Tyler Walton also tried his luck from 25 yards, before Rotherham forged in front on 18 minutes.

Walton was penalised for a foul and Warren curled a free kick beyond Simpson’s dive into the former Accrington keeper’s top-left corner.

Moments later, Connolly and Haswell combined to send Flynn McNaughton clear through the right channel but he fired wildly off target.

A Dawson lob was also clawed out of the air by Bilboe, while Kuda Muskwe shot tamely at Simpson for the home team.

Yates then drove wide from distance, before doubling the lead on 36 minutes, turning 15 yards from goal to fire in off Simpson’s right-hand post.

After the break, Walton drove over from 25 yards, while Simpson was equal to a Muskwe header.

But the Minstermen reduced the deficit on 53 minutes when Walton won a free kick and Dawson curled a 25-yard effort in off the crossbar.

Shortly afterwards, Ben Wiles headed off target for the Millers before, on 70 minutes, good play by Walton and McNaughton sent Haswell sprinting through the left channel, but he could only hit the outside of Bilboe’s near post.

Connolly went on to drill a thumping drive against the bar and Whittle, after a powerful burst into the box, forced a parry from Bilboe with his weaker right foot.

But, as City pressed for an equaliser, Rotherham were awarded a controversial goal when sub Kayode’s header hit the inside of Simpson’s right-hand post only for the referee’s assistant to rule that the ball had crossed the line, despite Sam Muggleton having appeared to clear the danger in time.

City: Simpson, Smith, Rogerson, Watson, Muggleton, Dawson, Walton (Thompson, 90), Whittle, Connolly, Haswell (Jackson, 84), McNaughton.