GOALKEEPER Adam Bartlett is hoping 2019 will prove a “new beginning” for York City following the end of a year he described as a “tough old slog”.

The Minstermen moved up to fourth in National League North two weeks into 2018 but ended last season in mid-table and have been in the bottom half of the standings since October 30 this term.

A 4-0 New Year’s Day home victory over Darlington lifted spirits, though, following back-to-back Christmas defeats to the Quakers (5-1) and Blyth (2-1), with a cautious Bartlett stressing that the win must not represent another false dawn for a team that hasn’t managed back-to-back league successes since last January.

“We can’t say 2019 is a clean slate, because it isn’t,” Bartlett confessed. “But, hopefully, it’s a new beginning and we can look to grab on to the teams that are chasing the play-offs and get in there ourselves.

“We can only look at it on a game-by-game basis, though, because it’s been a very frustrating period. The Darlington result has lifted morale in the dressing room after a Christmas period that wasn’t good enough, even though the worst-case scenario at Blyth should have been a draw because there was nothing wrong with Macaulay Langstaff’s disallowed goal.

“We needed a bit of positivity about the place after that and, hopefully, the win will spark us into life come this weekend and beyond, because it has to be the start of something after a 2018 that was a tough, old slog for everybody involved. But we’ve shown that we can be a good team before and inconsistency has been a massive problem because, just when we think we’re on the right track, we get derailed again, so there can’t be any more performances like Boxing Day at Darlington when we got absolutely annihilated.”

Bartlett added that the team cannot under-estimate Curzon either, having failed in his previous two attempts as City keeper to beat the Greater Manchester minnows, with this match potentially dictating whether the club are looking up or down during their subsequent fortnight-break from action.

“They turned us over at their place last season and this season it was Martin Gray’s last game in charge when we drew 1-1 and, to be honest, we were lucky to get a result,” Bartlett pointed out. “Jon Parkin equalised, but they had two or three good chances to make it 2-0 before then.

“They’re a good footballing team, who have had a change in management, but they won 2-1 at Ashton United on New Year’s Day, which was a bit of a six-pointer down near the bottom of the table. We’re in a bit of a wilderness – seven points off the play-offs and nine above the relegation zone – and, if we don’t keep turning up like we did against Darlington and have a few more negative results, then we’ll be looking at that end of the table again.

“That’s only natural unfortunately and, with a two-week break from games afterwards, it’s especially important that we get a positive result.”

City travel to Curzon having failed to take a point from their last six away matches, whilst 11 from a possible 15 have been picked up at home.

During those respective runs, meanwhile, three goals have been conceded at Bootham Crescent and 17 shipped on the road, with Bartlett adding: “The difference between our home and away form has been discussed in the changing room.

“Results have been good at Bootham Crescent, even if the performances haven’t always been up to scratch but, away from home, we’ve conceded too many goals and I’m sure that’s something the management are looking at.”

Bartlett has often prevented heavier defeats during City’s travel-sick sequence, picking up back-to-back Press Player of the Month awards for November and December, but he insisted he would swap individual plaudits for a greater number of shut-outs.

“The awards are pleasing to a point but, when you’re getting recognition on the back of defeats, it can’t mean a great deal and, what you do on an individual basis, is kind of irrelevant,” the former England C international declared. “It does give you a belief in yourself and what you’re doing but, even though I’ve been making quite a few saves, it’s quite often been a case, apart from against Brackley, of keeping the goal-against tally down, which is disappointing.

“Darlington was our tenth clean sheet of the season, but we had to wait seven games for one and it has to be a foundation to build on if we’re going to climb the table.”

Hamza Bencherif and Joe Davis represented the eighth different centre-back pairing Bartlett has played behind during the last 14 matches and, while the Newcastle-born 32-year-old understands the reason behind such chopping and changing, he would welcome a settled defensive line-up moving forward.

“The changes to the defence are difficult from my point of view, but I suppose they are understandable, because the manager hasn’t been happy with performances and results on enough occasions,” Bartlett reasoned. “If you look at successful teams, they usually have a solid core right through the team with people who are used to playing with each other, but we haven’t been able to stick to anything for more than a two or three-game period.

“I’m hoping we can settle on a team that is the right way to go forward and, for that to happen, we need performances and results like New Year’s Day. Joe Davis came back into the team and I thought he was outstanding, whilst Hamza won the (sponsors’) man-of-the-match award and rightly so.

“They didn’t give their two forwards a sniff and, having had quite a lot to do over the last few weeks, I only had one save to make and that was a bit of a dolly.”