RUSS WILCOX needs Florence Nightingale in the York City dressing room.

The Minstermen slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Harrogate Town in their latest pre-season friendly – undone by goals from Dominic Knowles and Lloyd Kerry – and the Bootham Crescent chief still has half his side on the treatment table.

City, perhaps leggy from a hard week at camp, weren’t at the races, Wilcox frustrated by their lack of shape and the gaps between defence, midfield and attack.

It is the latter that must currently be of most concern to the manager.

Striker Vadaine Oliver was given a harder time in the air then against Championship Sheffield Wednesday last time out but he still won plenty of ball, there was just no-one there to latch on his service.

And the problem is, with the League Two trip to Wycombe two weeks away, forward players Michael Coulson, Emile Sinclair and Jake Hyde have yet to take to the field.

With midfielder James Berrett also not making the Harrogate squad, resting a stiff back, Tom Platt was the only change from the side that started against Wednesday.

Where so much had been good in that encounter, City were lethargic against Town – that high-tempo pressing game, so effective against more illustrious opponents, was missing.

But, while there was little to get excited about for York supporters, they can console themselves with this. It’s only pre-season.

Wilcox had warned that the Wetherby Roaders would be highly motivated to spring a surprise and they underlined the point in the first 60 seconds.

Joe Colbeck gave John McCombe the slip on the right side of the area and the winger’s driven cross was deflected behind for a corner.

Their lightning start bore fruit in the fourth minute. City’s high line of defence was undone by a simple flick-on and Knowles, through on goal, had the composure to take a touch and send the ball past Scott Flinders into the bottom left hand corner.

Town could have been further ahead just a couple of minutes later. Colbeck again gave McCombe nightmares down the right before smacking a thunderbolt that only just whistled past Flinders’ right hand post.

He came even closer on the quarter-hour mark, this time his fierce drive narrowly shaving the crossbar on the angle as Harrogate looked good value to get a second.

City gradually composed themselves, Penn shooting just wide after good link-up play with Josh Carson and Platt unable to direct his header on target after back-pedalling to connect with Carson’s cross from the right side.

Town, and particularly Knowles, continued to threaten, though. Flinders produced a fine save, low down with his legs, to deny the striker after some technical wizardry – fine drag-backs with both left and right foot – created some space for the shot.

City’s chances, meanwhile, mostly came from range and none troubled Peter Crook in the Harrogate goal.

Straker came the closest, firstly with a low driven shot that skidded wide, before lashing clumsily after half an hour after he had attacked Nathaniel Pells inside the box.

Wilcox sent the same 11 out to start the second half for the first time in this pre-season campaign and, in the driving rain, an acrobatic overhead kick from Paul Clayton was scrambled away as Town forced a trio of corners.

City could have been level soon after when Platt barrelled his way through the Harrogate defence and the ball broke to Oliver on 52 minutes.

About 14 yards out, he struck a curling snapshot, on the half turn, that only narrowly cleared Crook’s left hand post.

But the Minstermen were struggling to wrest the initiative.

Clayton’s fine shot from 18 yards was tipped onto the post and behind by Flinders and, from the subsequent corner, centre-half Danny Ellis had a free header at the back stick that failed to find the target.

The game became fractured as the obligatory substitutes piled on and, while substitute Brendan Daniels fired past the post with 12 minutes remaining, City were unable to muster much of any consequence at the other end.

Harrogate put the seal on their performance with three minutes remaining.

Flinders did well to save a close-range Ellis header but, as the home side attacked again, Kelly’s curling shot from the left side – about 25 yards out – evaded everyone and nestled in Flinders’ left-hand corner.

An Oliver header, which struck the crossbar, came too little, too late.

Harrogate Town: Peter Cook, Nathaniel Pells, Cecil Nyoni (Lloyd Kelly, 72), Luke Shiels, Andy McWilliams, Joe Colbeck (Jordan Thewlis, 72), Danny Ellis, James Cadman (Paul Thirlwell, 61), Louie Swain (Royal Johnson, 81), Paul Clayton (Brendan Daniels, 65), Dominic Knowles (Connor Bower, 72).

Subs not used: Rob Worrall.

York City: Scott Flinders, Marvin McCoy (Taron Hare, 72), Dave Winfield, Keith Lowe, John McCombe (Femi Illesanmi, 63), Anthony Straker, Luke Summerfield, Tom Platt (Ben Godfrey, 72), Russell Penn, Josh Carson (Callum Rzonca, 63), Vadaine Oliver.

Subs not used: Michael Ingham, George Swan, Lindon Meikle.

Attendance: 580.