Once again the Minstermen can point to a lack of luck contributing to yet another downfall.

GET UP: Plymouth skipper Mick Heathcote, a former City loan player, beats midfielder Scott Jordan in the air

Just inches prevented striker Marc Williams from handing new City chief Terry Dolan a dream start to his Bootham Crescent career when his fifth minute effort cannoned back off the inside of the post.

If that had gone in, well ... football is full of ifs. Instead, reality bit and bit hard.

For those watching City these days the overriding emotion remains one of frustration.

Because the Pilgrims, while worthy winners and with a persistent pest down the right in former Nottingham Forest striker Paul McGregor, were hardly a cut above.

And for much of the opening period and patches thereafter City, playing with renewed energy and conviction, looked well able to cope with a team still harbouring hopes of a play-off place and undefeated at Home Park since April last year.

Their passing and movement was more than decent in the opening quarter but then they never really built on their carefully laid foundations.

Dolan, hit by the loss of young Christian Fox due to a family bereavement, had rung the changes, handing teenager Marc Thompson his Football League debut and Mark Bower his first appearance in a City shirt since sealing his loan move from Premiership outfit Bradford City.

The versatile Andrew Dawson was recalled and midfielder marauder Kevin Hulme made his first outing since the beginning of December after a double hernia operation.

The former Halifax Town skipper looked intent on making up for lost time and was easily the liveliest player on the park with his runs forward and willingness to lend his weight to the City attack.

But despite Hulme's promptings perhaps the writing for City was on the wall after Marc Williams' strike thwacked back off the post.

Argyle over-complicated a free-kick deep in City's half, Dawson pinched the lose ball and set Marc Williams scampering down the right.

The Welshman cut inside, looked up and smacked his effort past Jon Sheffield in the Argyle goal only for the woodwork to intervene.

Followers of City have seen it all before; the scare sparked Argyle into life and ten minutes later they took the lead.

Bobby Mimms hesitated in coming from his goal as Chris Hargreaves latched onto Jon Beswetherick's searching pass into the left hand corner.

Having made his mind to come for the ball, the veteran 'keeper arrived too late and upended unceremoniously Hargreaves.

Mimms was booked but worse was to follow.

From McGregor's resultant free-kick the veteran 'keeper punched the ball clear, but only as far as Middleton hovering on the edge of the area, who volleyed the ball back just hard enough to creep through a crowded penalty area, past the despairing dive of Mimms and inside the post.

It was harsh on City, who suddenly lost their shape and started to look ragged.

However, gradually they lifted themselves with a succession of corners that although came to nothing offered hope of better things to come.

Alas, just as hope returned, it was the Pilgrims who doubled their lead with a goal of true class.

Persistent play down the right by an increasingly influential McGregor and Sean McCarthy saw the flowing locked youngster roll the ball into the path of his senior colleague.

Without breaking stride McCarthy unleashed an unstoppable, rising drive from 20-yards into the City net. It is doubtful Mimms had even seen it.

McCarthy, McGregor and Hargreaves promptly ripped off their shirts to reveal the legend 200 on their T-shirts, commemorating the former Bradford striker's 200th senior goal.

Even the staunchest of City followers would deny it was a goal that deserved such an accolade but the Minstermen now faced a mountain if they were to return from the South Coast with any crumbs of comfort.

After the break, Hulme did his utmost to spark a red revival and stung the fingers of Sheffield with a fierce snapshot before cleverly lifting the ball over his shoulder from an acute angle that the Plymouth keeper had to claw out from under the bar.

But by and large with Argyle looking content with their lot and City looking resigned to their fate, the game was tamely petering out.

The Pilgrims enjoyed sporadic bursts by slinging the ball over the City defence, now playing higher up the field, to release the fleet-footed McGregor who failed to capitalise on his good fortune.

City, meanwhile, huffed and puffed, offering a more concerted threat with the arrival of former Pilgrim Craig Skinner, who saw a diving header just clear the bar and then danced his way through a posse of Plymouth defenders only for Sheffield to race from his line and smother the ball.

Thompson drove a speculative effort straight at the keeper after Hulme just failed to get a touch to Scott Jordan's corner, but in reality it was little more than half chances and City still await their first win on foreign soil in the 21st century.

Nationwide Division Three

Saturday, February 19, 2000

Plymouth 2, York City 0

YORK CITY: Bobby Mimms 5 (Russ Howarth 72mins), Matt Hocking 6, Mark Bower 6, Scott Jordan 6, Mark Sertori 7, Barry Jones 7, Kevin Hulme 7, Marc Thompson 6 (James Turley 84mins), John Williams 6, Marc Williams 6, Andrew Dawson 6 (Craig Skinner 7, 61mins)

Subs unused: John Keegan, Graham Rennison

Goals: None

Bookings: Mimms, 15mins, foul; Bower, 45mins, foul; M. Williams, 89mins, foul.

Man of the mach: KEVIN HULME

Made his first start since the beginning of December but it was like he had never been away. Aggressive as always and ever willing to find space, break from midfield and lend his support to City in attack.

PLYMOUTH: Jon Sheffield, Wayne O'Sullivan, Jon Beswetherick (Adam Barrett 90mins), Craig Middleton, Craig Taylor, Mick Heathcote, Paul Wotton, Martin Gritton (Lee Phillips 80 mins), Sean McCarthy (Barrington Belgrave 80mins), Paul McGregor, Chris Hargreaves.

Subs not used: Ken Veysey, Adam Barrett, Jamie Morrison-Hill

Goals: Middleton 16mins, McCarthy 39mins

Bookings: Taylor 60mins foul

Referee: Mick Warren (Walsall)

Crowd: 4,343

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.