NON-CONTRACT winger Danny Pilkington has been challenged to get nastier by York City manager Gary Mills.

But the Bootham Crescent chief also admitted Pilkington is edging closer to a permanent deal after playing a “major” role in City’s return to winning ways at Lincoln on Saturday.

The Minstermen ended a run of four league games without a victory when they triumphed 2-0 with the impressive Pilkington setting up team-mate Matty Blair for the second of his goals to help secure three points.

Mills hailed Pilkington’s contribution but called on him to stop being so nice.

The City boss said: “Pilks had an average first half (at Lincoln) and got in some good positions but didn’t deliver. We addressed that with him at half-time because I think he’s the best crosser of a ball in the club.

“We just want him to show that more consistently, which he did in the second half. I want him to show what an excellent player he can be.

“I think he’s too nice but I’ve worked with nice people before who are horrible on the pitch. If he gets a bit more of that into his game, he will kick on because he played a major part in getting us three points.

“He’s got an unbelievable physique but he needs to use it more because, even though he’s a strong lad, I can beat him in a sparring session. He’s got to learn what the game’s about quicker but I’m happy with what he’s doing and, if he keeps putting balls in like he did on Saturday, we’d better get him on a contract.”

Pilkington was preferred to right-footed Ashley Chambers on City’s left flank and Mills felt his ability to send in centres with both boots was another bonus at Sincil Bank.

“He’s a bit stronger with his right but is pretty much two-footed,” Mills pointed out. “That is useful because we’ve been getting in good positions down the left and then having to cut back.”

Having conceded goals in the opening 20 minutes of four of the last five matches, Mills was also pleased to end that worrying trend against the Imps with captain Chris Smith, returning from suspension, preferred to Jamal Fyfield as Daniel Parslow’s centre-half partner and Jon Challinor also earning a recall at right-back as Lanre Oyebanjo dropped out.

The City manager added: “We’ve had an issue with conceding early goals but I was glad to have the benefit of a clock at Lincoln and, once it got to 21 minutes, I thought we could go on and win the game. We then played more like we can in the second half.”

Blair scored both of his goals in the second half, taking his season’s tally to ten – one short of his haul for Kidderminster in 2010/11.

“His understanding of the game is getting better and he made a superb run for his header,” Mills said. “His desire for the game is fantastic and we have got a good player on our hands.”

New signing Scott Brown, meanwhile, completed 90 minutes on his full debut after moving to the club from Fleetwood.

About his display, Mills said: “He did well. He’s not played an abundance of football and we will see better from him but we got him through his first game and he showed glimpses of why we have brought him in. I think he will complement what we have in midfield. He got in good areas beyond our wide strikers and we have lacked that a little bit at times.”

Mills, meanwhile, did not want to elaborate on the reasons he named goalkeeping coach Paul Musselwhite as a substitute at Sincil Bank despite normally going without an understudy for Michael Ingham on the bench but confirmed it was not because of an injury concern to the latter.

• Ex-City midfielder Levi Mackin has joined hometown club Chester City.