GAINSBOROUGH left-back Brandon Fleming might have been sent off on 24 minutes, but it was York City’s fans who were seeing red by the final whistle as their team lost to the ten-man hosts.

The Minstermen faithful voiced their disapproval at the efforts of Martin Gray and his players as Ashley Worsfold’s second-half goal condemned the visitors to a third consecutive defeat without scoring – a sequence that now, unthinkably, has reduced the club’s play-off hopes to an outsiders’ chance.

For many away fans, the Northolme contest, against a team fighting relegation to Evo-Stik football, was one humiliation too far and, following another chorus of “This is Embarrassing” which was also heard in the midweek loss at Nuneaton, beleaguered boss Gray became the subject of their ire.

For the first time, chants of “Gray Out” and “Martin Gray, Get Out of Our Club” were directed at the former Darlington chief, interspersed with shouts of “What a Load of Rubbish” and “You’re Not Fit to Wear the Shirt.”

It was a sorry afternoon indeed as, despite benefitting from a numerical advantage for three-quarters of the match, a toothless attack, pedestrian midfield and back-line that has only kept three clean sheets in 32 contests all contributed to a 16th defeat of the campaign.

Adam Bartlett, who has arguably been City’s most-reliable performer this term aside from 25-goal top scorer Jon Parkin, clattered into Dan Parslow to gift Gainsborough their goal.

But City’s lack of imagination in the final third of the pitch once more heaped pressure on their defence not to blot their copybook, with Gray resorting to partnering a midfielder (Sean Newton) and centre back (Hamza Bencherif) in attack for the final half-hour.

The home team had earlier called Bartlett into action after just 41 seconds had elapsed, although Nathan Jarman’s speculative 25-yard shot was routinely gathered.

At the other end, Newton’s free kick was deflected over and a weak Alex Kempster effort from distance failed to extend Trinity keeper Henrich Ravas.

There then followed a 13th-minute moment of controversy when Nathan Stainfield brought down Kempster on the edge of the box and referee Samuel Barrott blew his whistle for a foul as the ball fell to City full debutant Vinnie Steels in front of goal.

Stainfield was subsequently cautioned and Alex Pattison curled the free kick wide.

Gainsborough’s goal attempts continued to be unconvincing, with Shane Clarke slicing well over from 25 yards, before Fleming was dismissed on 24 minutes.

Both the on-loan Hull City left back and Connor Brown jumped into a challenge close to the halfway line in front of the dugouts.

Brown won the ball and then writhed around after Fleming caught his ankle.

Following the inevitable melee, Mr Barrott then reached for his pocket and gave Fleming his marching orders.

Just past the half-hour mark, hesitation by home defender Ioan Evans let in Kempster, but Ravas was alert to the danger and rushed off his line to smother the ex-Whitley Bay striker’s shot Bartlett was forced into the best save of the half, though, when he dived to his right to palm out Alex Simmons’ 20-yard attempt, while Tom Davie followed up to sidefoot across the face of goal.

Newton also saw a 15-yard chance deflected over following a shot-corner routine with Pattison.

After the break, the City skipper’s header missed the target after Steels had lifted a left-wing cross to the far post, but the home side broke the deadlock on 54 minutes when a ball over the top of the away defence lured Bartlett out of his goal.

He only succeeded in flattening Parslow and punching weakly to Trinity winger Nicky Walker who, in turn, fed Worsfold to find the roof of a vacated net from ten yards.

Calls for Gray’s departure ensued, while the away boss responded to falling behind by throwing forward Bencherif, without a goal in more than 60 appearances for the Minstermen, as a makeshift striker with the intention of unsettling the Lincolnshire strugglers’ defence.

The former Algeria under-20 international won his share of aerial balls, but late opportunities came and went with no reward.

Sub Aidan Connolly fired over after working an opening for himself 15 yards from goal, while home replacement Craig King headed off target with his first touch from a right-wing Simmons cross.

An ambitious Simon Heslop drive was also deflected wide, before another Connolly attempt was parried by Ravas, but there was no City player on hand to convert from the loose ball.

Heslop deliveries into the box also saw headers from Newton and Parslow fail to stretch Ravas, before he tried his luck again from distance to howls of derision from Gainsborough fans, as he aimed over the crossbar.

The visitors’ final effort of the game saw Connor Smith flash a shot wide of the near post, as Gray’s men racked up a hat-trick of straight defeats for the second time this season.

City ratings

Adam Bartlett 5 – good first-half save but misjudgement after break gifted Gainsborough their goal

Connor Brown 5 – combative streak is his biggest strength and liability

Dan Parslow 5 – troubled by a couple of balls over the top

Hamza Bencherif 6 – did his best when asked to perform as makeshift striker

David Ferguson 5 – struggled to begin moves from full-back

Alex Pattison 4 – struggled to impact the game from out wide prior to withdrawal

Simon Heslop 4 – ponderous before coming to life a little late on

Adriano Moke 4 – seemed unsure of role in team and disappeared for long spells

Vinnie Steels 6 – uncomplicated and delivered decent crosses into home box

Sean Newton 5 – found the going tough in central-striking role

Alex Kempster 4 – needed to be more clinical with one-on-one chance

Substitutes: Connor Smith 6 – eager (for Pattison, 46), Aidan Connolly 6 - probing (for Kempster, 50), Jonny Burn 6 – solid (for Brown, 62).

Subs not used: James Gray, Luke Simpson.

Star man: Steels

Gainsborough: Henrich Ravas, Michael Jacklin, Nathan Stainfield (Bradley Beatson, 32), Ioan Evans, Brandon Fleming, Alex Simmons, Shane Clarke, Liam King, Nicky Walker, Nathan Jarman (Tom Davie, 27), Ashley Worsfold (Craig King, 71). Subs not used: Ben Hinchliffe, Jordan Richards.

Gainsborough star man: Simmons – carried an attacking threat

Referee: Samuel Barrott: 7/10 – decisive on big calls

Booked: Stainfield 13, Parslow 15, Jacklin 57, Brown 59

Sent off: Fleming 24

Attendance: 1,014

Shots on target: Gainsborough 4, City 4

Shots off target: Gainsborough 2, City 9

Corners Gainsborough 1, City 10

Fouls conceded: Gainsborough 11, City 12

Offside: Gainsborough 2, City 4