MANAGER Steve Watson has lamented York City's slow start in defeat at Leamington - but believes there is better to come.

Early goals from Junior English and Lance Smith saw York 2-0 down after just seven minutes before Olly Dyson struck back with a fine effort for York.

Harry Bunn came close not long after but that was one of the last clear-cut opportunities of the 90 for the Minstermen, who fell to their first defeat of this National League North season and now lie 17th.

In a balanced encounter, York saw more of the ball but could not make it count, with Bunn a real threat when cutting in from the left. Second-half substitute Jack Redshaw got an effort away but it was a good few feet wide.

"I think we looked like the team that was going to score in the second half," Watson said.

"No matter how much you guard against it, you're playing against a match-fit team. Playing against York is a huge game for them and we have to respect that.

"They notably start their games well and, if you start a game like we did - just fundamental errors, not getting carved open, just two players going for the same header, and it was a hell of strike - that puts you on the back foot.

"It was a great response from Olly, who was arguably our best player again today. He twisted and turned and put in a strike every bit as good as their first strike.

"And then you're in a situation like the last game where we were 1-0 down at half-time but you know there are plenty of options.

"They were a lot more solid second half than the last game we played. They're very good at that. They had something to hang onto. They had four men at the back and five across the middle, and they made it difficult for us.

"I thought we could have attacked crosses a lot better - that was a big gripe. We had two or three great crosses from corners.

"They broke on us a couple of times because we were going for it. At the end, we had four strikers on the pitch.

"I think anybody that follows us regularly and has seen what we're trying to do this season knows that there's a lot more to come, knows that this was always going to be a difficult game.

"I suppose the biggest disappointment is that we didn't leave with something, which is what we arguably deserved."

Mere seconds before the final whistle, well into injury time, Sean Newton sent in an in-swinging free kick from wide right. It may have been heading for the far corner but for the head of Bunn, off whom it bounced for a goal kick.

"Unfortunately, I think it was (going in)," Watson said. "I just said (to Newton), 'Make sure you hit the target'.

"I think if we'd nicked that goal at the end, it would have been what we deserved. We put plenty of effort in and tried to play plenty of football.

"The pitch has stood up well but they won't all through December and January so we need to find other ways to win.

"On today's evidence, what we do need to do better is attack the ball."

Josh King came at right-back for Owen Gamble, who, Watson revealed, injured himself on a treadmill during isolation. He should be back training at the start of the week, Watson said.