YORK City manager Gary Mills lamented a striker shortage after watching his side go down 2-1 at fellow Blue Square Bet Premier strugglers Forest Green Rovers.

The Minstermen slipped to sixth bottom in the table after Saturday’s defeat with none of the club’s recognised forwards – Michael Rankine, Leon Constantine and Michael Gash – having now netted in open play for nine matches.

Gash failed to make the bench at the New Lawn with Mills even pairing midfielder Alex Lawless and winger Peter Till in attack for the last 20 minutes of Saturday’s game after withdrawing Constantine and Rankine.

On-loan frontman Mark Beesley, meanwhile, has been sent back to Fleetwood Town, following non-contract signing David Dowson out of the door, as the City chief looks to clear room to bolster his options in the final third of the pitch.

“The situation we are in is that I have come into the club with a lack of strikers,” Mills pointed out.

“It possibly needs to be addressed and we need to get people fit if they are going to play because you can’t play if you’re not fit.

“It did not concern me putting Alex Lawless and Peter Till up front at all.

“We have got to make the most of what we have got and they are good players, who know the game.

“That’s the position we are in and they kept the ball well up there, making things difficult for their centre-halves.

“People might raise their eyebrows because I put them up there but Michael Rankine wasn’t having the best of games and was drifting out of the match even more.

“We have created plenty of chances in the last two games but strikers don’t come easy. I feel we need one or two to help us out and get us goals from the chances we are creating.”

Lawless grabbed a consolation for City within seconds of being pushed forward and also went close to scoring on other occasions but Mills is unlikely to make the former Forest Green midfielder a permanent fixture in his front-line, saying: “He’s a good midfield player and the system I want to play gives him a licence to go and play alongside the striker.

“He’s capable of doing that, but the ball has got to stick up there a bit more.”

Mills was also irritated by the manner in which his side conceded goals in the fourth minute and just before the hour mark, saying: “We conceded a goal the first time the ball went into our box.

“We did not win the first header or the second ball from their free-kick and it ended up in the back of our net.

“You have to defend better than that because it was just one punt into our box and one header.

“They only had three shots all game and the second goal was also a sloppy one.”

Despite his team bossing possession for long spells, Mills also called for greater penetration but admitted that, three games into his reign, the players are still familiarising themselves with his methods.

He said: “The result was more disappointing than the performance. I thought we were the better side but we have lost the game.

“We kept the ball well but probably kept it too much and we did not open them up when we needed to.”

Added the City manager: “I want the players to keep the ball but there’s only so long you can keep it without opening teams up.

“We had opportunities to get down the sides and in between the full-backs and centre-halves, which we have worked on, but didn’t do that.

“It’s only the second game though that the players have played in the system I am looking for and nothing will become perfect over night.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day and we won’t panic.

“I won’t drop my head or have people feeling sorry for themselves because anybody who has seen us play the last two games would not say Kidderminster or Forest Green were better than us.”