AT what point does a drama become a crisis?
Not yet, insists York City manager Gary Mills, even though he is presiding over the stickiest spell in his two-year reign at Bootham Crescent.
A 2-0 defeat against Torquay stretched the Minstermen’s run without a win to seven games but, to clutch at the positives, the performance was nowhere near as bad as the AFC Wimbledon debacle the last time this side suffered home discomfort.
The Gulls had three shots on target, scored two of them, and then hunkered down as York largely controlled possession and made the better chances.
But while it is said there are lies, damned lies and statistics, some also cannot be disputed.
Mills’ men are painfully struggling to get results in front of their increasingly frustrated supporters.
Two wins from ten npower League Two matches is hardly the sort of form to propel City into the top half of the table.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and, given the chance again, Mills might think differently about starting a midfield trio consisting of two defenders in Lanre Oyebanjo and Daniel Parslow and a winger in Matty Blair.
He was quick to change that set-up at half-time.
By then, York had made it easy for the Gulls to get a foothold in a game which they should not have had any real part in. Despite their victory, they still looked like a side that hadn’t won in their last four.
As the first half wore on, things began to get better for City. More play and more penetration followed and, once Scott Kerr came on at the start of the second period, and Jon Challinor was pushed into midfield with Oyebanjo dropping back into the defence, City began to boss the encounter.
By the time Mills pulled out the big guns, and Jason Walker and Ashley Chambers had settled into the fray, there was only one attacking force in the match.
But by then the points had already gone and to two simple goals that would have embarrassed York’s players had they been conceded on the training ground.
Danny Stevens collected Kevin Nicholson’s low cross from the left in the tenth minute and was in such space he had time to take a controlling touch before stabbing his finish coolly past Michael Ingham and into the ’keeper’s left corner.
The second came in equally disappointing circumstances on the hour mark.
Billy Bodin’s slide-rule pass put in Rene Howe on the left side of the area and, after he rode Oyebanjo’s desperate challenge, he played a simple pass across goal to Joe Oastler, who flicked the ball into the net from six yards.
It had been 20 minutes before City staged their first proper attack – Blair driving down the centre of the pitch before releasing Danny Kearns.
His shot was straight at Michael Poke but the offside flag had already been raised.
Poke then gathered a firm 20-yard shot from Oyebanjo at his near post at the second time of asking while, at the other end, Challinor executed a perfectly timed challenge to deny Stevens a second strike at goal.
York found more fluency as the half wore on – gradually wrestling more and more possession even though they were unable to seriously test Poke in the Torquay net.
Parslow made way for Kerr at half-time as Mills re-jigged his midfield and City were immediately further on the front foot.
The former Lincoln midfielder drove forward, and got Challinor involved, before Alex Rodman fired a shot from 12 yards that squeezed past Poke for a corner.
The on-loan forward worked the Torquay custodian again on 55 minutes. His shot from the left was parried away towards Blair six yards out but last season’s leading scorer was unable to find a telling touch goalwards.
Jamie Reed glanced a header just wide of the right hand post – his only meaningful contribution in front of goal on a frustrating day and, as he made way for Walker, Torquay struck the crucial second blow.
York continued to create.
Kearns had a penalty shout waved away on 65 minutes after going down heavily in the area when challenged by Oastler, and Challinor had a header cleared off the line by Poke after the ’keeper had earlier palmed Kearns’ shot behind following some neat play with Walker.
But as Torquay successfully protected their advantage it was City, like the boxer Ricky Hatton, who were left reeling from another knockout blow.
York City 0, Torquay United 2 (Stevens 10; Oastler 61)
Michael Ingham 6
Little to do except pick the ball out of the net twice.
Jon Challinor 6
Moved into midfield in the second half after starting at right-back. Turned a couple of times early on but did better when forward.
Chris Smith 6
Recovered from virus to play and suffered nervous moments early on. Competent afterwards.
Chris Doig 6
Worked hard in the air and on the deck. Coped adequately.
Jamal Fyfield 5
Promising opening with Oyebanjo down the left side but couldn’t push on from that.
Lanre Oyebanjo 6
York’s main attacking threat in first half, moved in to right-back after the break.
Daniel Parslow 5
Struggled to get a grip of the game in middle of the park. Unusually wayward with a couple of passes. Subbed at half-time.
Matty Blair 5
Worked hard and always energetic but little came off for him.
Alex Rodman 6
Worked the Torquay ’keeper on a couple of occasions in the second half but was then substituted.
Jamie Reed 5
A glancing header wide, right before his substitution, was his only real contribution on a difficult day.
Danny Kearns 7
STAR MAN – complicates matters by trying to do too much at times but looked the man who might get City back into the game.
Subs: Scott Kerr (Parslow 46) – instant direction 7; Ashley Chambers (Rodman 59) – scant contribution 5; Jason Walker (Reed 59) – more impact. Not used: Musselwhite, McGurk, McLaughlin, Blanchett.
Michael Poke, Joe Oastler, Brian Saah, Aaron Downes, Kevin Nicholson, Billy Bodin, Craig Easton, Nathan Craig, Danny Stevens (Thomas Cruise 82), Ryan Jarvis (Damon Lathrope 76), Rene Howe (Saul Halpin 89). Subs not used: Martin Rice, Angus MacDonald, Ashley Yeoman, Niall Thompson.
Star man: Saah – gave Jamie Reed no quarter.
Referee: Rob Lewis (Shrewsbury).
Rating: 7/10 – angered home fans by waving away penalty shout, but firm otherwise.
Booked: Oastler 73, Howe 86.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 3,174 (255 from Torquay).
Shots on target: City 6, Torquay 3.
Shots off target: City 5, Torquay 3.
Corners: City 9, Torquay 2.
Fouls conceded: City 8, Torquay 13.
Offsides: City 2, Torquay 0.