STEVE WATSON is looking at York City's 3-0 pre-season friendly defeat to South Shields as more an exercise in improving fitness than a concerning loss.

At Shields' 1st Cloud Arena, City were downed by three goals within the 15 minutes surrounding the half-time break.

The first was from a penalty clumsily given away by Scott Barrow and the second a free kick on the edge of the area following Paddy McLaughlin's strained tackle. The third arrived mere seconds after the latter, with York losing possession in the middle of the park.

But Watson is not judging his men too harshly as these are errors that can crop up in warm-up games.

Moreover, the Mariners - who had National League North football in their sights before the season came to an untimely close - had already played five games prior to Tuesday, contrasting somewhat with York's one.

With that in mind, the match was initially pencilled in for York's Wigginton Road training ground - but they were scuppered by the nights drawing in on this delayed pre-season campaign.

Watson explained: "Our original plan was for a training ground game at our place where we could use more people this early in pre-season.

"Being three weeks behind them, we knew it was going to be a tough game but we were going to use it as a training session.

"But we were both thinking about pre-season as July and when we realised how dark it was going to get, there was no other option. We agreed to come here. It was probably too early for us, but as long as we come out of it with no injuries - you look at the goals, all early pre-season mistakes. The penalty, the free kick, losing the ball in the middle of the park, tripping over it almost.

"Nobody likes to get beat, certainly not in front of a crowd but we take it as what it is, we'll take vital fitness out of it.

"If we're still making those mistakes and still look like that in two weeks' time, I'll be concerned, but certainly not now."