1 City are paying the penalty for conceding spot kicks

Jamie Collins’ two conversions from 12 yards meant the Minstermen have now had six spot kicks awarded against them in the last seven matches and eight over the course of the season. Those decisions have come at an expense of six points to the team, which represents the difference between being two and eight clear of the relegation zone.

Despite Luke Simpson initially saving Niall Cummins’ penalty during the FA Cup replay at Curzon Ashton, the striker also followed up to claim the winning goal that dumped City out of this term’s competition. Unlike the majority of those that have gone before, referee Joseph Johnson’s judgment in both incidents was highly disputable, but there were still measures that could have been taken that might have avoided each scenario.

For the first, although contact was clearly minimal, City skipper Simon Heslop did take a risk, in this era of simulation and gamesmanship, when stretching out his arm and gave Craig Eastmond the encouragement to throw himself to the ground and con a poor referee. For the second, despite gaining a numerical advantage following Dean Beckwith’s 77th-minute dismissal, City did not muster another goal attempt in the game, whereas Sutton managed five.

Retreating deep and failing to preserve a slender lead has been a recurring theme this term, as has dealing with set-pieces in an inadequate manner. When the long throw was not cleared sufficiently, the second ball wasn’t picked up either or the subsequent shot blocked.

Scott Flinders might have done better too with the direction of his parry and, having dived the other way for both of Collins’ penalties, that also begs the question whether the age-old theory that goalkeepers should anticipate which side a taker will choose, whilst immediately reducing their chance of saving to a 50-50 chance, is the right tactic. Mills understandably railed against both awards, but the above are all factors he will be taking into account as he looks at methods to improve the team’s penalty concession rate and mitigate against more damage being done by sub-standard officials.

York Press: 2 Scott Flinders has returned rejuvenated from his loan spell at Macclesfield

The former Hartlepool keeper’s stint at Moss Rose might just prove of benefit to player and club. Having left Bootham Crescent with a record of two clean sheets from his last 38 games, he kept the same tally during his five matches with Macc.

Despite the penalty episodes, Flinders looks to have restored some confidence – first evidenced with his decision making and cross handling when he replaced an injured Kyle Letheren at Southport. Like Letheren this term, Flinders has also been kept busy during the last two games and, having been forced into several good saves against Sutton, his first from Adam May was truly outstanding. Hopefully, the break from Bootham Crescent will help reinvigorate Flinders as he looks to recapture his early form with City, although Letheren has done little to merit losing his starting place when fit.

York Press: 3 City benefitted from greater energy in midfield

During his previous spell in charge, Mills employed full-backs James Meredith and Lanre Oyebanjo in midfield because of their ability to break quickly and support attacks. Indeed, both operated in such roles as the Minstermen pulled off their historic 2012 Wembley double.

Much of City’s midfield play this term has lacked that dynamism and looked predictable, but on-loan Birmingham City teenager Charlie Cooper introduced some much-needed forward thrust to that department of the team. Matty Dixon also made the occasional darting run, but will need to prove he is capable of getting involved more if he is to survive under Mills.

York Press: KAINE'S ABLE: York City winger Kaine Felix believes he can provide goals for his new club. Picture: Gordon Clayton4 Missing simple chances is proving costly 

With City’s tails up having taken a 2-1 lead four minutes earlier, Kaine Felix had a brilliant opportunity to put the outcome beyond doubt as he broke clear on Ross Worner’s goal. But his weak shot was feebly saved and Mills made his feelings clear afterwards about the impact of that moment on the final outcome.

Likewise, at Southport, Callum Rzonca broke clear late on and shot wide when his team were only trailing 1-0. Rzonca was left out of the squad completely on Saturday and it remains to see if Mills is just as unforgiving with Felix.

York Press: 5 Sean Newton and Charlie Cooper look capable new arrivals

Recruitment has been a problem at Bootham Crescent in recent times, but experienced Conference campaigner Newton and confident youngster Cooper both looked assured signings. Newton’s decision making in defence was calm and calculated, while Cooper was busy throughout and never shy to express himself on the ball.