YORK City have now won just two of their 20 home fixtures this season and boss Russ Wilcox must find a way to turn that tide on a beach of a pitch at Bootham Crescent.

Otherwise, the chances of this season’s slog to save the club’s Football League status being taken to the wire and an improving Portsmouth team, who have lost just one of their last ten matches, remain a concerning reality.

A heavily-sanded playing surface contributed to a second successive 0-0 stalemate for City in front of their own fans – this time against fellow strugglers Carlisle – but it cannot be held responsible for all of the hosts’ shortcomings in home fixtures this term.

No team in English football’s top five divisions has picked up fewer victories on their own turf than the Minstermen in 2014/15 and only Aston Villa, with one less, have netted fewer home goals than the dozen mustered in league contests by the squad Wilcox inherited and has added to since mid October.

City have also played four more home league fixtures than the top-flight Birmingham outfit.

Floundering at home, just like conceding late goals, has almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy for the club this season and the psychological impact of City’s lack of victories in North Yorkshire should not be under-estimated.

Fan and players, alike, certainly seem to approach home games with a large measure of apprehension and trepidation these days.

That was evident during a cagey start against Carlisle that saw Wilcox’s men fail to muster a goal attempt of any kind until the 39th minute.

City’s squad are also more comfortable playing on the counter attack than opening up well-drilled visiting defences and in the middle of the park, the team’s graft needs to be allied with greater craft.

The eventual return of Luke Summerfield from injury should help in that respect as the team have missed his range of passing from that area of the pitch.

On-loan Tottenham striker Shaq Coulthirst’s pace and enthusiasm did unsettle Carlisle following his early second-half introduction and the ex-England under-19 international, along with talented teenager Diego De Girolamo, also a substitute on Saturday, could hold the key to more threatening home displays in the future.

Michael Coulson also sparked into action after the break but, as Wilcox suggested, shoehorning all three into the same starting XI without compromising the team defensively, could present other problems.

Even against the Cumbrians, who had lost five of their previous six matches, City’s back four, on their way to a third consecutive clean sheet at Bootham Crescent, endured several anxious and uncertain moments that a better team might have exploited.

After a 4,270-strong crowd, bolstered by an impressive 1,219 travelling fans, had waited 27 minutes for the first goal attempt, City could have easily fallen behind due to defensive sloppiness.

Charlie Wyke was inexplicably left unmarked five yards from goal to meet Jason Kennedy’s left-wing free kick but he headed wastefully and weakly into the arms of an exposed Bobby Olejnik.

The ex-Middlesbrough striker also dragged an edge-of-the-box effort wide after some uncharacteristic, indecisive play from Keith Lowe.

Kyle Dempsey went on to drive an angled 12-yard shot straight into Olejnik’s midriff at his near post after Brad Potts’ unintentional sliced pass had teed up a free shot on goal.

City, meanwhile, managed their only shot of the first period when Josh Carson’s speculative 20-yard full volley dipped over following persistent play by Coulson.

After Steven Rigg shot wide of Olejnik’s far post within seconds of the restart, having got the better of Lowe through the left channel, the Minstermen belatedly began to apply some sustained pressure.

A well-struck, rising 15-yard drive by Coulson called away keeper Dan Hanford into his first save of the afternoon.

He pushed Coulson’s effort over his bar after Femi Ilesanmi’s cross from the left had been allowed to travel across his penalty box.

Carson (twice) and Coulson then snatched at chances from a similar distance before City’s best opportunity to clinch maximum points saw the latter and Emile Sinclair both denied by goal-line clearances.

First, Danny Grainger kicked Coulson’s stabbed attempt away and, after Coulthirst had also had a shot blocked, Sinclair’s follow up was repelled by alert covering defender Sean O’Hanlon.

Carson went on to lift another 20-yard opportunity too high for the hosts while Wyke volleyed a rare second-half chance wide at the other end of the pitch.

City also forced a succession of corners but, after Brad Halliday should have done better when he miscued a far-post shot after an inventive first-half flag kick from Carson, too many of the hosts’ subsequent dead-ball deliveries were floated into the arms of a grateful Hanford.

The lack of quality from set-pieces seemed contagious, regardless of the taker, as skipper Russell Penn sliced a woeful free kick straight to the Carlisle goalkeeper with the last kick of the game much to the chagrin of City’s supporters, who will not be in no mood to accept any excuses or hard-luck stories if their team falls short come the day of reckoning on May 2.

Match facts

Bobby Olejnik 7 – equal to two shots he faced and solid otherwise.

Marvin McCoy 6 – delivery into box let him down late on but generally adequate.

Keith Lowe 6 – looked uncomfortable and untypically indecisive.

Stephane Zubar 7 – met Carlisle’s physical challenge and defended solidly.

Femi Ilesanmi 6 – erratic at times but settled after long spell out.

Michael Coulson 7 – STAR MAN provided forward impetus.

Russell Penn 6 – laboured away in middle of the park during an ugly scrap.

Brad Halliday 6 – found it difficult to influence matters on the ball.

Josh Carson 6 – off the radar with his shooting but willing to have a go.

Jake Hyde 6 – offered little threat before being replaced early in second half.

Emile Sinclair 6 – came to life a little after interval following poor first half.

Subs: Shaq Coulthirst 7 – bright (for Hyde, 56), Diego De Girolamo (for Carson, 85).

Subs not used: Tom Platt, Michael Ingham, John McCombe, Lewis Montrose, Lindon Meikle.

Carlisle: Dan Hanford, Matt Young, Troy Archibald-Henville, Sean O’Hanlon, Danny Grainger, Brad Potts (Paul Corry, 64), Jason Kennedy, Anthony Griffith (Billy Paynter, 72), Kyle Dempsey, Charlie Wyke (Mark Beck, 83), Steven Rigg. Subs not used: David Amoo, Courtney Meppen-Walter, Patrick Brough, Raphael Spiegel.

Carlisle star man: Sean O’Hanlon – uncompromising at heart of Carlisle defence.

Booked: O’Hanlon 76.

Attendance: 4,270 (1,219 from Carlisle).

Referee: Pat Miller (Flitwick) rating: 7/10 – on top of most things.

Shots on target: City 3, Carlisle 2.

Shots off target: City 5, Carlisle 7.

Corners: City 11, Carlisle 3.

Fouls conceded: City 9, Carlisle 13.

Offsides: City 1, Carlisle 2.