ON-LOAN Blade Diego De Girolamo scored his second goal in three outings for York City but new boss Russ Wilcox will be looking for a greater cutting edge to revive the team’s fortunes in coming weeks.

For the fifth time this season, the Minstermen failed to hold on to a single-goal lead, despite dominating possession for long spells of an encouraging first period against Mansfield that carried on the good work witnessed four days earlier at Morecambe.

Just as at the Globe Arena, though, Wilcox’s side were pegged back and City have now tossed away 11 points from winning positions in 2014/15 - the difference between the club lying just outside the play-off zone on goal difference and their current position one place above the relegation zone.

A second goal in four of those contests would have seen the Minstermen recoup eight of the 11 points and rendered the stoppage-time goals for Tranmere, Northampton and Morecambe mere consolations rather than agonising equalisers.

But the Bootham Crescent club have only managed to score more than once in four of their last 28 fixtures and that lack of firepower must be addressed soon.

Of Saturday’s starting line up, four of the players occupying the hosts’ six advanced positions in a 4-4-2 formation had managed just one goal in 148 collective appearances.

Centre-forward Ryan Brunt has now failed to net in 30 matches, while right-winger Lindon Meikle’s barren run stretches to 46 games – the equivalent of a full league campaign.

In midfield, meanwhile, Lewis Montrose has not featured on the scoresheet in 37 fixtures and Russell Penn has mustered only one goal in 65 outings.

On Saturday, Brunt worked hard to lead the line without managing a goal attempt, while Meikle disappeared as an attacking presence after the break having been prominent in the final third during the first half against his old team.

Montrose and Penn also retreated to positions just in front of the back four, having imposed themselves higher up the pitch during the opening 45 minutes with a positive burst from the City skipper having led to De Girolamo’s goal.

Part of the battle for Wilcox might be changing a mindset – the seeds of which were probably firmly sewn during the club’s extraordinary charge into the play-offs last season when an ability to defend 1-0 advantages was built on a run of 14 clean sheets in 18 matches – a pattern that was never going to be sustainable.

The availability of injury-prone pair Wes Fletcher and Jake Hyde, along with the return of long-term absentee Josh Carson, would also help improve City’s potency.

For all their quality during the first half, De Girolamo’s 20th-minute goal was the hosts’ only dangerous opening.

Otherwise, Penn saw an ambitious 35-yard attempt saved and Coulson curled a free kick into the David Longhurst Stand before shooting wide from distance.

City forged ahead, though, when Mansfield keeper Sascha Studer’s poor clearance was seized upon by Penn 30 yards from goal.

He then powered into the penalty box and crossed from the inside-right channel to De Girolamo who, four yards out, turned smartly to deceive nearby defenders before finding Studer’s bottom right-hand corner.

At the other end, Rakish Bingham earlier had a hat-trick of chances within the first 15 minutes, forcing a close-range save from City debutant Alex Cisak with his head, before shooting wide of the on-loan Burnley keeper’s near post from ten yards and then firing across the face of goal after tormenting a back-peddling Keith Lowe through the right channel.

The Stags offered very little else before the interval but, aided by the home side’s nervous reticence, were a different proposition during the second period.

After Studer had kept out a low drive from De Girolamo within 30 seconds of the restart, Mansfield midfielder Rob Taylor hit the base of a beaten Cisak’s right-hand post from 15 yards after Montrose and Penn had dived into challenges on the edge of the penalty box.

The visitors then drew level on 62 minutes after Meikle had shot weakly wide for the Minstermen.

Adam Murray’s cross from the left saw Vandaine Oliver climb above Femi Ilesanmi at the far post to head back towards an unmarked Daniel Carr who volleyed past an exposed Cisak from six yards.

In response, De Girolamo and Coulson exchanged passes brilliantly to leave the Italian under-20 international clear on goal but Studer saved low to his right to deny him a second goal of the afternoon.

Either side of Carr curling inches wide, at the other end, a deflected 20-yard shot by Coulson almost found a helpless Studer’s top left-hand corner and the City winger also called the Swiss net-minder into action from a well-struck free kick.

But it was Mansfield who finished the match strongest.

Bingham’s shot from 15 yards was pushed around his right-hand post by Cisak, who then watched on as Carr’s shot on the turn trickled wide.

In stoppage time, the former Australia under-20 international was also equal to a low Taylor drive from 20 yards, while Murray blazed wildly wide with the game’s last chance.

A draw means City have now gone ten matches without a home win – the second-longest sequence in the club’s history.

Match facts

York City 1 (Di Girolamo 20), Mansfield Town 1 (Carr 61)

York City

Cisak 7 – made a couple of smart saves and dealt with Mansfield’s aerial threat positively.

McCoy 7 – conservative in his forward forays but reliable in the main defensively.

Lowe 7 – marshalled the back four well and made several sensible headed clearances.

McCombe 7 – sliced several first-half clearances but contested every ball that came his way.

Ilesanmi 7 – competed with determination and looked to play the ball out of defence when possible.

Meikle 7 – took the game to his old team in a positive first half but went missing a little after the break.

Montrose 7 – battled for midfield supremacy before sitting deeper and deeper during second half.

Penn 7 – drove team on during first period, as typified by his role in De Girolamo’s goal, but less influential later on.

Coulson 8 STAR MAN - always looked a danger to Mansfield and married work-rate with guile.

Brunt 6 – a willing target for the team but struggled to create for team-mates or threaten himself.

De Girolamo 8 – showed impudence for his goal and has the ball skills and movement to hurt sides.

Subs: Tom Platt (for Montrose, 73), Anthony Straker (for Meikle, 75). Not used: Jason Mooney, Dan Parslow, Luke Summerfield, Cameron Murray, Ben Hirst.


Sascha Studer, Liam Marsden, Ritchie Sutton, Jamie Sendles-White, Lee Beevers, Daniel Carr, Jamie McGuire, Adam Murray, Rob Taylor, Vadaine Oliver (Ollie Palmer, 83), Rakish Bingham. Subs not used: Fergus Bell, Reggie Lambe, Jack Thomas, Dimitar Evtimov, Chris Clements.

Star man: Carr – got his goal and went close to winning match.

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Preston).

Rating: over lenient and error prone - 4/10.

Booked: Sendles-White 77.

Attendance: 3,370 (579).

Shots on target: City 5, Mansfield 6.
Shots off target: City 5, Mansfield 9.
Corners: City 4, Mansfield 4.
Fouls conceded: City 12, Mansfield 11.
Offsides: City 0, Mansfield 0.