AN important lesson should be imprinted in the brains of York City’s players as they contemplate their first defeat of pre-season – a 2-0 reverse to Oldham Athletic.

If you defend poorly in the Football League, you are likely to be punished severely.

Michael Ingham didn’t have too much to do as the Latics visited Bootham Crescent, but he twice picked the ball out of his net in two first half minutes as the visitors demonstrated the ruthlessness which is required to succeed back in the big time.

York had actually started the brighter but it was two poor lapses of concentration in defence which led to both goals and which should give the Minstermen’s back four pause for thought.

James Tarkowski’s header was bad enough – a firm effort from eight yards after he was left completely unmarked from Youssouf M’Changama’s corner on 23 minutes.

But manager Gary Mills was just as disappointed with the second less than a minute later, a straight ball right through the heart of the back four allowing Daniel Taylor to find Robbie Simpson inside the box.

The forward swept his shot away from a helpless Ingham into the bottom left-hand corner.

Doubly disappointing because it followed a promising opening 20 minutes, where City fashioned a couple of half-chances against their League One opponents.

Striker Jason Walker could have given them the lead on six minutes but, although his spectacular volley from Jon Challinor’s cross left Oldham ’keeper Dean Bouzanis a spectator, defender Connor Brown managed to get the slightest of touches to deflect it behind.

And Matty Blair , presented before the game with his The Press Player of the Year Award for his heroics during York’s Wembley double-winning season, scuffed a shot after an incisive move involving Walker and Paddy McLaughlin shortly afterwards.

Once they had their quick-fire lead, Oldham were happy to play possession football and it was York who were left pondering their next course of action at the break.

Their response was to try to play more positively, and further up the pitch, Walker moving down the left before finding Coulson, who retained possession despite a strong challenge and passed to McLaughlin – only for the former Newcastle reserves’ captain to smash the ball high over the bar after cutting inside.

Mills brought on Ashley Chambers for his first piece of pre-season action and, alongside Jamie Reed , also introduced trialist Dominic Knowles into the fray.

The latter pair combined almost immediately as Reed bustled forward and Knowles hit a shot from a tight angle which was easily saved by Bouzanis.

Oldham’s play stalled a little when boss Paul Dickov introduced eight substitutes, en masse, midway through the second half but Tarkowski remained on the pitch and served further warning of his potency when a snapshot from 16 yards flew just wide of Ingham’s goal.

Knowles’ lively cameo was almost crowned with 12 minutes remaining when his header was blocked on the line and, from a subsequent corner, Chris Doig had an effort blocked.

York’s later work was better.

Reed executed a smart turn just inside the box and forced substitute Oldham ’keeper Liam Jacob to beat away a curling shot which had looked to be on its way into the left-hand corner.

And, almost immediately, Chambers shot narrowly wide after working an opportunity on the edge of the box.

But City were unable to follow Oldham’s lessons in finishing and, on the back of two slack goals conceded at Pickering in midweek, York will be glad these defensive blunders are being committed in pre-season.

In the League campaign, they won’t be so fortunate.

City: Ingham, Challinor, Doig, Smith (Parslow 66), Blanchett (Fyfield 54), McReady (Chambers 54), Bullock, McLaughlin (Potts 72), Coulson (Platt 73), Walker (Knowles 61), Blair (Reed 61). Subs (not used): Musselwhite, Henderson.

Attendance: 1,335 (209 from Oldham).