YORK City slumped to a poor 3-2 home defeat to Blyth Spartans, giving their long-suffering fans absolutely no festive cheer.

Jon Parkin bagged a brace for the Minstermen, including an 87th-minute consolation, but Martin Gray’s men were second-best all afternoon and should have lost by a larger margin than that exacted through Sean Reid, Adam Wrightson and Greg Rutherford goals Blyth’s Robbie Dale had the first chance of the afternoon, but his sidefooted effort drifted wide.

Kieran Green also drilled a deflected 20-yard attempt over for the visitors, before Alex Pattison flashed an edge-of-the-box effort wide following Hamza Bencherif’s lay-off.

But it was the north-east outfit that made the breakthrough on 25 minutes when Dale, who had troubled Daniel Rowe throughout the opening exchanges, teased the most basic of fouls out of the City right back as he headed for the byline and was felled by the ex-Wycombe defender’s outstretched leg.

Reid went on to beat Adam Bartlett with confidence from the penalty spot.

Just four minutes later, though, the scores were level again after Nathan Buddle’s silly lunge at Aidan Connolly, as he attacked the byline following Parkin’s lay-off, heralded another penalty decision.

Parkin, who spent much of the half straying offside, then made no mistake from the spot, blasting to Peter Jameson’s right, as the Blyth keeper dived the other way.

City never looked at ease, though, in the first period and were behind again on 34 minutes.

David Atkinson’s low pass from the right flank dissected the home defence far too easily and Rowe, who was not alert to the danger, found himself in a position where he elected not to challenge Wrightson from behind, which saw the away sub guide his calm finish past an exposed Bartlett.

In response, a weak Pattison shot proved comfortable for Jameson at his near post and Adriano Moke’s 20-yard attempt was also routinely gathered, before Connolly hit the Longhurst roof from just outside the penalty area.

As the half came to an end, Rutheford showed the greater desire to beat David Ferguson to Wrightson’s left-wing cross, but steered his shot off target.

There was still time for Amari Morgan-Smith to send City into the interval level, however, when he sprinted clear through on goal.

But the former Luton striker hit Jameson’s right-hand post and then lacked the co-ordination to convert the rebound in front of a gaping goal.

After the restart, Rowe was hauled off swiftly after being cautioned for another foul on Dale, while Ferguson failed to track a Jarrett Rivers raid down the right but, after he pulled the ball back, Green’s 20-yard shot was not hit cleanly enough to trouble Bartlett.

At the other end, a mishit Parkin chance was collected under his crossbar by Jameson, who was also equal to a back-heeled Bencherif effort at his near post, following Ferguson’s cross.

Connolly, meanwhile, fired wide from 25 yards.

But it was 3-1 to Blyth on 73 minutes when Rivers fed Wrightson who, enjoying the freedom of the middle of the pitch, picked out Rutherford’s run through the left channel and his weak shot beat Bartlett too easily.

The visitors should have gone on to add two more goals shortly afterwards, but Rutherford allowed a porous home defence to recover and deflect his eventual shot wide.

Bartlett was then required to charge out of his goal and smother at Rivers’ feet after he had been sent clear through the right channel by Rutherford.

A slim ray of hope came on 87 minutes when Parkin expertly controlled Bencherif’s long ball into the box and, after Jameson saved his first attempt, found the net.

After Dale then struck the post with a rasping 25-yard strike, Connolly might even have snatched a completely undeserved equaliser in stoppage time, flashing a half-volley past the sidenetting.