GUTTED York City boss Gary Mills blamed controversial referee Joseph Johnson for a “cruel” home draw against Sutton.

The Minstermen were leading 2-1 against ten-man Sutton, who had lost defender Dean Beckwith to a second bookable offence on 77 minutes, thanks to goals from Daniel Nti and Danny Galbraith that had turned the tables following Jamie Collins’ early penalty.

But Johnson awarded Sutton a second spot kick on 89 minutes and Collins converted again to secure a share of the spoils.

Even away boss Paul Doswell confessed that he would have felt aggrieved had he been on the receiving end of both decisions, whilst also admitting he felt City should have been awarded a penalty of their own when Galbraith was tripped by Roarie Deacon.

Simon Heslop was punished for the first after brushing Craig Eastmond with his arm, while Mills was left fuming by the second after insisting debutant Sean Newton won the ball as he tackled Dan Fitchett.

The incredulous City chief said: “I understand what a tough job refereeing is, but come on. We had two penalties given against us that never should have been and I don’t get what the officials saw.

“Newts put in a good tackle at the near post. He took the ball so, for the linesman, or whatever they call them these days, not to see that, is beyond me.

“I have to be careful what I say, because you can never win in these situations, but it was cruel on everybody and I’m gutted for the players and supporters because we deserved to win and had that taken away from us by an unbelievable decision. I wasn’t even thinking it might be a penalty when it happened and I’m angry, but we’ve got to get over that and I will calm down.

“We’ve let late goals in during the last two home games and those four points would make a massive difference, but we’ve not got them and have to move on.”

Following the dismal 2-0 midweek defeat at Southport, though, Mills added that standards were beginning to rise during his fourth game in charge, praising Newton and on-loan midfielder Charlie Cooper following their respective arrivals from Wrexham and Birmingham.

“Our shape was good and the players gave absolutely everything,” Mills reasoned. “The improvement was there to be seen.

“There’s no two ways about that. We passed the ball well before the second goal and got our rewards from that.

“We were also on our front foot and more positive. The two lads who came in did really well.

“Charlie is confident and can see and execute a pass. He’s not afraid to take the ball in tight areas and got into the box a few times as well, but wasn’t picked out.

“He can get up and down the park and gave us that bit of energy we needed. He is brave enough to get on the ball and make things happen.

“For somebody who hadn’t played in this league before, coming in from development football, I thought he did incredibly well.

“Sean is a winner and a leader. He wasn’t playing in his position, because he’s a full back, but he did a good job.”

But Mills is still ready to apply more surgery to his over-sized, inherited squad after striker Fraser Murdoch became the first out of the door last week.

“There will still be other changes,” the Bootham Crescent manager pointed out. “Kaine Felix went through at 2-1 and it should have been game over.

“I’m sorry, but it’s got to be better, because it’s a tough, tough world and game.”

Mills went on to stress that those with a different work ethic and attitude to him could be the first cast aside, explaining: “People are living the lives of footballers, but you’ve got to earn that.

“I wish I was a player again. I trained hard and was disciplined and, when players aren’t, I find that hard to believe. If I see players who I don’t think are earning their salaries, then I will make a decision.

“I believe I’ve given everybody a chance and I needed to see them all to prove to me which of them are not going to let me or the club down. I need players who want to get better, whether they are 18 or 38 and, if they don’t, we will sit down and everything will be done in the right manner, because I want players who want to be here, take pride in their job and are ambitious to get this club back up the league.”