YORK City boss Martin Gray confessed he would love a straightforward 1-0 win after seeing his side edge a five-goal thriller at Alfreton Town.

The Minstermen took the lead three times in Derbyshire courtesy of Aidan Connolly’s opener and a Jon Parkin brace but, even then, debutant keeper Adam Bartlett still needed to save Bradley Wood’s penalty to make the points safe against a host team who had been reduced to ten men following a red card for ex-Bootham Crescent midfielder Tom Platt.

Whilst happy with a second successive victory following the 2-1 home triumph against Curzon Ashton, Gray reasoned that he would welcome a less eventful route to three points.

“It’s a bit frustrating having to score three goals away from home to win games and that can’t be the case going forward,” the former Darlington chief insisted. “We’ve got quality in the team – there’s no question about that – but, whilst I don’t want to be negative because it’s a fantastic three points and the first back-to-back wins since I took charge, we’ve got to get back to being stronger and really hard to beat, because I’d love to win a game 1-0.

“It was too open a game and both goals we conceded were soft and sloppy, even though they have got some good players and have improved their squad during the season. The second goal was a fantastic finish that was hit with lots of pace, but it came from a cheaply conceded free kick, which invited pressure on to ourselves, even though we had defended set-plays well and, if we didn’t win the first header, picked up the pieces.”

Gray dispensed with his diamond formation after Alfreton’s second equaliser, admitting that his team struggled to get to grips with the hosts’ wing-back system and felt second-half replacements Amari Morgan-Smith, David Ferguson and James Gray all subsequently contributed to the final outcome.

“We needed better shape off the ball and their formation hurt us a bit, so we changed things around the hour and I thought the subs came on and had a massive impact again,” Gray enthused. “Our fitness levels were fantastic and we counter-attacked really well, which is down to all the hard work we’ve been doing at the training ground.”

Bartlett, meanwhile, earned rich praise for his spot-kick heroics, having followed Gray from Darlington to North Yorkshire.

“He made some great decisions with balls across his goal and had a really strong debut,” the Minstermen chief declared. “The penalty was well taken and hit with plenty of pace, so it was an outstanding save.

“He talks, organises, has lots of experience and will only get better when he gets to know the personnel and his back four because, for me, he’s the best keeper in the division.”

Gray went on to agree with referee Robert Massey-Ellis’ decision to send off Platt for a second bookable offence after he conceded a penalty for dragging Gary Martin back.

Leading scorer Parkin took his season’s tally to 13 from the spot and the City boss hailed his efforts, as well as those of fellow marksman Connolly, adding: “Their player was the last man and Gary got himself in a great position in between the penalty spot and the six-yard box.

“If he hadn’t been pulled down, he would have got his shot off, so their player had to go. Big Jon then did the rest and he’s such a massive part of what we are doing going forward.

“He helped the ball on to win the penalty and ended up with another two goals. Aidan also took his chance in his stride after a great ball in and put in a great assist for Jon’s first goal, so he can be pleased with his performance too.”

Daniel Rowe was the first player to be taken off at Alfreton, but Gray revealed that the former Wycombe utility man was under the weather when his afternoon came to a premature end on 55 minutes.

“He was full of flu and possibly shouldn’t have played,” the City manager explained.