YORK City boss Colin Walker claimed his side were not "ugly" enough to avoid defeat at Histon.

The Minstermen went down 3-1 at the Glass World Stadium on Saturday with Nicky Wroe's penalty their only consolation as the home side scored all their goals inside the visitors' six-yard box.

It was a disappointing way for Walker, pictured, to lose his unbeaten league record as manager against a Histon team renowned for their physical and direct approach to the game and coached by former Cambridge long-ball exponent John Beck.

About his first Blue Square Premier defeat since taking over from Billy McEwan in November, Walker said: "It was an ugly game and they play the ugly game well. We couldn't play the ugly game and could not cope with their ugly game and succumbed.

"We explained to the players how they would play. Both myself and Eric Winstanley had come up against John Beck a long time ago and they played exactly how his teams always do and did it very well.

"We knew they would look to play in the final third and try and get dangerous crosses in. They did and we couldn't live with it, but you can't legislate for people unwilling to work hard, put their head in or stop crosses.

"Now, it's about how we react for the next game at Rushden, because that's the biggest game since I became manager after being defeated and not playing well. We've got to bounce back."

Walker employed three different formations in the game, starting with a 3-5-2 line-up before switching to 4-5-1 when Histon went 2-0 ahead and then opting for a 4-3-3 system after the home side scored their third goal on 56 minutes.

About the changes, the City chief said: "We had two plans with the same personnel on the pitch because we knew how they would play and felt we might have to react to that. I then felt we needed to make more changes when their third goal went in.

"Sometimes you have to change the way you play to get a result, but we couldn't do that."

While not blaming referee Amy Rayner for his side's demise, Walker also felt the Lough- borough official's appointment for the game was inappropriate.

Rayner awarded City a dubious penalty for handball, while Tom Evans protested that the home team's third goal had been headed out of his hands.

She also cautioned four players in a fiery first half that threatened to boil over and Walker said: "I have to be careful what I say but, in a game like this, I'm not sure that selection of referee is appropriate unfortunately.

"We've seen her referee before at Kidderminster and she gets up and down the pitch well, but there was so much happening off the ball that she didn't understand or see - too many things to mention.

"Tom Evans said their player headed the ball out of his hands for their third goal, but I'm not making excuses. She was not the reason we got beaten. We got beaten by a better team on the day."

Walker admitted that his side missed skipper Manny Panther for the game.

The Scottish midfielder has a niggling knee problem and was left out in the hope that he will be fit enough to make Saturday's FA Trophy quarter-final at Rushden.

About his captain's absence, Walker added: "He needed to be left a week because we need to look after him. This game came too soon and the priority for him is Rushden.

"Histon was Manny's type of game, but we couldn't risk playing him and losing him for months."

Simon Rusk was recalled in place of Panther with Onome Sodje dropping to the bench alongside fellow 14-goal top-scorer Craig Farrell before the pair were introduced early in the second half.

The City boss said: "The decision over Sodje was tactical and we explained it to him before the game.

"The Rushden game was also in our mind with him as Leo Fortune-West and Simon Rusk won't play in that game. We needed to look at Simon in there, but it wasn't really a football day for him."

Meanwhile, midfielder Phil Turnbull has joined Gateshead on loan, linking up with former KitKat Crescent team-mates Paul Brayson and Carl Jones.