YORK City reserves are still searching for their first Central League point of the season, but pushed an experienced Grimsby Town outfit close during a 2-1 away defeat.

Youth-team scholar Noah Jackson headed in a Sam Muggleton long throw to give the Minstermen an early lead at the Mariners’ Cheapsides training ground.

But former Mansfield Town midfielder Chris Clements levelled before the break and Harry Clifton went on to bag the winning goal midway through the second half after James Gray had rattled the bar for the visitors.

Muggleton and Gray were two of seven City players with first-team experience.

Ex-skipper Simon Heslop played the first 45 minutes, suggesting that he might be back in the picture at Bootham Crescent, having previously told the management team he did not want to play for the club any more.

Luke Simpson, Daniel Rowe, Connor Smith and Tyler Walton also lined up against the League Two side, who had seven players with senior experience in their first XI, including Sean McAllister, following the conclusion of his loan spell with City.

The away team opened the scoring on 12 minutes when Jackson rose high to beat Grimsby keeper Ben Killip with a firm header after Muggleton had hurled the ball in with his usual power from the right.

Two great chances went begging for the home team, though, with Jack Keeble sidefooting wide from a corner and Clements somehow missing the target with only Simpson to beat from eight yards.

At the other end, another Muggleton long throw was headed over by Rowe, who played at centre back, but Grimsby equalised on 40 minutes when former Port Vale forward JJ Hooper sent in a cross from the right and Clements made no mistake this time with his first-time finish at the far post.

After the break, City’s Harry Thompson cleared a Keeble header off the line, while ex-Wimbledon defender Karleigh Osborne aimed wide from a similar chance and Brandon Buckley skied over following hesitant City defending.

The visitors almost struck on the counter, though, when Gray smashed a 15-yard attempt against the frame of the goal.

Instead, it was Grimsby who got the decisive next goal when a deep right-wing cross by Alex McMillan – the son of former City favourite – looped over Simpson and hit the bar, gifting Clifton a 66th-minute tap-in.

Simpson went on to deny Harry Cardwell, while sub Aaron Haswell shot just off target from the edge of the box for the Minstermen.

A rushed Walton 30-yard effort, with Killip off his line, lacked the height to beat the home keeper, while Hooper shot straight at Simpson when played clear through the right channel.

Jackson, meanwhile, saw another header from a Muggleton throw land on the top of the Grimsby net, while Smith drove over from 30 yards with City’s last opportunity to secure a point.

City: Simpson; Thompson, Rogerson, Rowe, Muggleton; Smith, Walton, Heslop (Haswell, 46), Jackson; Gray (Kelly, 67), McNaughton.