YORK City manager paid tribute to the club’s supporters as an eighth season of non-League football was confirmed following yesterday’s 0-0 home draw with Cambridge United.

A 1-0 win for Fleetwood Town over Barrow meant City’s play-off interest would have ended last night regardless of the outcome at Bootham Crescent, but Mills was quick to praise the fans’ continued loyalty after they applauded the players off the pitch during a lap of honour.

Should sixth-bottom Forest Green Rovers be relegated on the final day of the season this weekend, the Minstermen would become the longest-serving club in the Conference. Crowd levels have remained fairly constant, though, since the club’s relegation from the Football League in 2004.

A gate just under 3,000 was attracted for the Cambridge game and Mills said: “This is a fantastic club and the supporters are superb. It’s another season that we haven’t got out of this league and that’s hard for them to take but they keep coming and paying their money week in, week out so I want to say a big thank you to all of them.

“They’ve made myself and Darron (Gee) welcome from day one and we’ve worked so hard to get this club where we all want it to be. I’m just glad we kept the season alive for them for so long.”

Since his arrival from Tamworth in mid-October, Mills has overseen a climb from the lower reaches of the Blue Square Bet Premier table to a position just outside the top-five standings.

The City chief, though, questioned why the club, given the playing staff at their disposal, found themselves in such a situation last autumn, calling for self-reflection in certain areas.

He said: “I don’t understand why the team were hovering around the bottom four in the first place. There are a few players and people that should perhaps look at themselves because there’s no way the squad that I inherited should have been in that position.

“The people involved need to ask themselves if they could have done more. I can’t answer that question.

“All I can say is that everybody has worked so hard to try to get into the play-offs and it hurts that we have just missed out for the need of one or two more wins.”

The Minstermen failed again to make the most of their dominance in possession against Cambridge, whose point also secured their Blue Square Bet Premier status for another campaign.

Mills added: “Their ’keeper pulled off two or three good saves with probably the best coming from Andre (Boucaud). They were all long-range efforts though and we did not create too much in the penalty box.

“It was tough and they are a tough side.

“We just couldn’t get the goal and take our chances again.”

Jamie Reed, who had scored seven goals in nine matches prior to yesterday’s game, was replaced on 65 minutes following a quiet afternoon and Mills explained the former Bangor City striker will probably be a greater force next season, saying: “We switched to 4-4-2 at half-time because Jonathan Smith had to come off with a thigh injury but I intended to do that anyway to try and get a bit more out of Reedy but it didn’t quite happen for him or the wide men.

“He was struggling to get into the game and wasn’t as sharp as we’d have liked him to have been and that’s why we took him off. It’s a big step up for him in terms of the intensity of being a player at this level but the boy will learn from what he’s done this season and will be better for a pre-season behind him.”

At the other end of the pitch, though, the makeshift central-defensive partnership of left-backs Jamal Fyfield and James Meredith kept a clean sheet following on from impressive displays at Darlington.

When asked whether Fyfield, who has also played for City as a winger, could make a permanent switch to centre-back, Mills replied: “Why not? He’s a big lad, who’s quick and a good athlete.

“The fact that David McGurk, Dan Parslow and Chris Smith have been missing has given me an opportunity to have a good look at him and he’s done really well. James Meredith was also outstanding again and, over the two games they have played together, they’ve done really, really well as a partnership.”

Ever the optimist, Mills is refusing to give up on the club’s play-off dream until the final fixtures are played.

Despite the Conference board giving no indication any action will be taken against fourth-placed Wrexham due to their perilous financial situation, the City chief wants to be in a position to benefit if sanctions are taken against them.

He said: “We’re still not giving up. There’s a lot of talk about Wrexham and, if they’re not allowed to take part in the play-offs, we’ve got to try to finish sixth and see if anything will happen.”