YORK City manager Steve Watson has expressed his disappointment at defeat against Curzon Ashton, which he believes was sealed by an "awful" first half.

The Minstermen's unbeaten start to the National League North came to an end in the 1-0 loss at the Tameside Stadium, as has their leadership of the division, which is now topped by King's Lynn Town.

Despite last week's FA Cup defeat, York did not look like a side whose previous competitive loss had come more than six months ago - nor did they look like recovering from the Altrincham reversal.

Instead, Watson cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as - to name one offender - Kallum Griffiths played the ball backwards while in the attacking third.

"The first half was awful," Watson admitted after a pause. "I'm trying to think of a better word for it but it was an awful performance.

"We were almost waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen.

"This week was about putting last week behind us but we looked like we were lacking in confidence, and I said to the lads, 'How could that be?'

"Second half, I thought we were camped in their half, their keeper made some saves, but that's easy to do when you're behind.

"The first half was a huge disappointment and where the game was lost.

"Like last week, we moved the ball very slowly in the first half, went backwards so many times - and that really is a lack of confidence. I'd rather players lose the ball on the edge of the box trying to be positive but that wasn't the case.

"They were all frustrated and angry with themselves at half-time but these are the games where, if we'd nicked a point, we'd have kept our unbeaten run going, but it's completely flummoxed me the first-half performance today.

"That's why sometimes you throw the floor open dressing room and you want answers from the players. I didn't respond to last week badly, the fans didn't particularly respond to last week badly. We all agreed it was a below-par performance but everything this week suggested we were going to kick back on.

"For 45 minutes, we looked almost shell-shocked. I didn't recognise a lot of the players in the first half.

"When you're a goal down, you can chase the game and you can play football, but if we had played with that pace for 90 minutes no doubt could have won the game."

York's only real chance of the first half fell to Elliott Durrell, and Watson believes the forward probably should have done better than drag his uncontested volley wide of Cameron Mason's right-hand post.

The decisive strike came just after the half-hour. Keeper Pete Jameson punched a cross away from goal and it dropped kindly for Stockport County loanee and Curzon debutant Connor Dimaio to fire high into the unprotected net.

"You can probably count on one hand the amount of mistakes Pete has made this season," Watson added.

"It's probably one he could have caught. He knows that, he's held his hands up in the dressing room. I'll certainly not be hanging Pete Jameson out to dry this season, so that's that forgotten about.

"It was a disappointing goal to concede. Sometimes when you play as badly as we did first half, if you do come away with a clean sheet you hold your hands up, but this has jolted everyone today.

"We're just looking for a response."