After watching his side grab a dramatic injury-time winner against Barrow, York City manager Gary Mills believes that confidence and belief is growing as the Minstermen look to escape from the National League relegation zone.
Sean Newton’s ninety third minute goal set off wild celebrations inside Bootham Crescent as supporters, players and management rejoiced in the biggest result of Mills’ second spell at the club.
It also continued a fine run of form that has seen Mills’ side drag themselves closer to escaping the bottom three.
Since their defeat at title-chasing Tranmere Rovers in early December, the Minstermen have lost only one of their next seven games in all competitions.
Saturday’s win over Barrow clearly meant a lot to Mills.
As the final whistle blew he celebrated in front of the City fans along with assistant manager Darren Caskey.
Passion, relief and joy were unleashed.
Not that Mills will be apologising for that any time soon, and nor should he.
He said “I am an emotional man and sometimes I show my emotions too much.
“Sometimes my wife tells me to calm down a little bit but you can’t help it. That’s this game of football, it shows what it means.
“Just to get these three points, and play the way we played after a good week of training. Me and Cask (Darren Caskey) were talking about that before the game. The week’s training deserved a victory today.
“Working hard, pulling together in training, and we went and got the win.
“It’s a good result, we can enjoy it but next week we start again.
“It’s gone now and next week we are away at Aldershot, a tough place to go, just like at Dover a couple of weeks ago.
“We’ve got back-to-back wins after the cup win last weekend and today. The last seven games we have won four, drawn two and lost one so we are starting to build momentum.
“We are building a belief and a consistency that in the end wins you games of football.
“I was going to say in the end it wins you trophies and promotions but in our case it can win us safety”
Home debutant Amari Morgan-Smith put Mills’ side in front midway through the first half.
The on-loan Cheltenham Town forward linked well with strike partner Jon Parkin as he raced on to a flick from the former Newport County man.
Morgan-Smith’s pace took him beyond the Barrow defence and he beat Bluebirds keeper John Flatt to the ball, rolling it past him and into the net.
The Minstermen held on to the lead until fifteen minutes from time, when some catastrophic defender allowed Paul Cox’s side to grab an equaliser.
A mix-up in the Minstermen back four led to keeper Kyle Letheren spilling the ball just inside his area. That was enough for Barrow striker Jordan Williams and he made no mistake, pouncing on the loose ball and applying a relatively simple finish.
Both sides had chances to take all three points but it looked as if they would have to settle for a share of the spoils with the game running deep into injury time.
That was when Newton’s moment came, as again the power and presence of Parkin caused problems in the visitors defence.
The big striker flicked on a long throw and eventually the ball fell to Newton who made no mistake, smashing the ball just inside the near post.
That gave York three points that Mills always believed would be coming their way.
“I thought we deserved it and I could see it coming” admitted Mills.
“I stated all week that I now have a squad of players that are not only capable of winning football matches but that want to win football matches.
“You have seen today against a tough side to play against that we are up for the fight.
“We can go and beat teams in this league now and it was nice to see a last minute goal other than conceding one”
Although he was at pains to pick out any individuals after a team performance, Mills did reserve praise for striker Amari Morgan-Smith.
The striker, on loan from Cheltenham Town, has made a bright start to life at Bootham Crescent.
After scoring on his debut in the FA Trophy win at Harlow Town, Morgan-Smith repeated the trick on his home debut on Saturday.
Mills paid tribute to the striker’s attitude and believes that not many players would be willing to move to a club that are in a relegation battle in the National League.
Mills said “He deserved it didn’t he? He deserved it for all of his work he put in today, he never stopped, he was a pest to their defenders.
“The work-rate was immense for us and I am delighted for him. He has two goals in two games and that is why you bring a striker in, he is doing it.
“He wants to be here. How many players would come to a club at the bottom of the division, sitting bottom. Not many want to do that because they know it’s going to be a fight.
“Amari wanted to do that, so I think that is something special”
City will continue their fight against relegation on Saturday when they travel to play-off chasing Aldershot Town.
Their recent form has given them a real chance of survival and Mills is eager to be the man that delivers it for the supporters that he believes he have “been through hell” in the last eighteen months.
“Forget the goal, it’s the final whistle, that felt good” admitted Mills.
“I thank the fans today, they have been through hell
“Not just this season but the one before.
“They have stuck with this football club and I am pleased for them. I have an affinity with them and I said when I came in that I wanted to be the man to keep them up and if we perform like that we will get enough to stay up”
Interview: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: Ian Parker (York City FC)