BRUISED and battered York City were today counting the cost of their 3-0 defeat at Rushden and Diamonds.

With Halifax Town beating Lincoln 3-0, just one goal now separates City from rock bottom of the Football League.

But as the Minstermen get ready for tomorrow night's visit of promotion chasers Rochdale and then Saturday's FA Cup clash with Premiership Fulham, manager Terry Dolan has been rocked by fresh injury worries.

Defender Matt Hocking was a late withdrawal from Saturday's team after picking up a stomach bug.

It is now feared striker Alex Mathie, who came off the bench at Nene Park, is showing the same symptoms.

To make matters worse, Lee Nogan was withdrawn at half-time with an ankle injury following a late tackle while midfielder Lee Bullock suffered a similar blow, although he was able to play on.

Gary Hobson suffered a facial injury while goalkeeper Alan Fettis damaged his neck early in the first-half.

To add further insult to injury, defender Chris Smith will be suspended for next month's game with Lincoln City after receiving his marching orders on Saturday.

City chief Dolan admitted it was a case of not raining but pouring on his team in difficult times.

"I am not too hopeful for some of them," said Dolan on the chances of his walking wounded being fit for the visit of Dale.

The City boss admitted his team rarely came close to matching their FA Cup exploits of midweek.

"Unfortunately, we are not in a position to be able to rotate the squad, but I just thought we were half-a-yard off the pace in the first-half," said the City manager.

City suffered the worst possible start, conceding an early goal on four minutes before also suffering the body blow of condeding a second goal on the stroke of half-time.

"It was a bad start but after that there wasn't much in it," said Dolan.

"To be fair, it was an excellent header for their second goal but we didn't close the full-back down quick enough to prevent the cross from coming in."

Despite his disappointment, Dolan refused to be critical of his team's efforts, particularly as they were forced to play with ten men for almost the entire second half

"The players have worked their socks off but at 2-0 once Chris Smith was sent-off it becomes very, very difficult for us

"The game is not finished but we are left with a mountain to climb

"We stuck at it and created one or two chances. We even hit the post but it was inevitable with the extra man they are going to create chances of their own."

The City manager refused to criticise the match officials but Dolan had good cause for feeling aggrieved as Duane Darby, who Smith brought down to earn his red card, looked yards offside when he raced clear.

"I will watch the video before making any comment," said Dolan.

Updated: 09:01 Monday, January 21, 2002