York City: We're on the up and up! - Mills

For 82 minutes, York City held the seventh-best team in the country at nil nil.

Since the arrival of manager Gary Mills, the Minstermen were unbeaten in six league games heading into yesterday's tie at Histon.

York's Football League credentials are already clear but their manager is refusing to talk up City's promotion chances knowing all too well where his predecessors have failed.

Mills admits to being as proud as punch last weekend as City held

Bolton Wanderers goalless at the Reebok in the FA Cup until two cruel late goals broke York hearts.

However, while the Minstermen are now out of the prestigious competition, their showing was a clear indication towards their Football League potential – as is their recent progress in Blue Square Premier under Mills.

The former Tamworth boss now has York nestled within touching distance of the play-offs should they win their games in hand – a superb recovery bearing in mind City were in the division's relegation zone upon the 49-year-old's appointment.

Hopes are now once again high that the Minstermen's six-year-exile from the Football League will soon be ended but while admitting that City's stay in the Football Conference has been unsatisfyingly long, Mills is refusing to even dream of how a return to League Two would feel.

Instead the former Nottingham Forest ace is concentrating on improving the toughness of his side further – hoping that itself may be enough to get York back in the big time.

"It's been too long that the club have been in the Conference now," Mills told Yorkshire Sport this week.

"But while I wasn't at the club last year possibly the same questions were put to Martin Foyle and before the questions will have been put to

whoever was manager then.

"We can all talk and I'm not going to say where we're going to end up and where we're going to go.

"What I will say is we're going to be organised, we're going to be strong, we're going to be a team that's hard to beat and along with that bit of lady luck, we'll see where that takes us.

"It's good at the moment and I think anyone watching us will be enjoying watching us play, we're picking up results and it's a good

time to support York City.

"Everything about it is moving forward and let's see where that takes us."

City are certainly moving forward fast both on and off the pitch with Mills having started 2011 by signing striker Jamie Reed from Bangor City as well as tying up loan aces Chris Smith and Andre Boucaud on permanent deals.

Mills admits to being pleased with the club's off-field progress but says his refining of City's squad is far from complete.

"I'm a football manager and you never stop looking to improve your squad," he said.

"That will never change, even if you're top of the league by 20 points – that will never change, you're still looking to improve.

"You'll never get the perfect squad because that keeps changing but what I will say is that I've inherited some good players that have lost their way, lost their belief, lost their confidence and lost their enthusiasm.

"They've got that back and they are showing the players they can be.

"Yes, I've brought a few in, there's two or three gone out but I haven't made major changes because I don't need to."

Those select but shrewd changes have led to a recent surge up the table but Mills knows City still have a big task on in aiming to recover lost ground and sneak into this year's play-offs.

"It's a big catch up and it was always going to be a big catch up," said Mills.

"When I joined the club we were in the bottom four which wasn't nice to see so we had to work hard to get out of there and now game by game we'll see where it takes us.

"We're capable of winning games – where that takes us, who knows.

"I know we're capable of beating anybody so we've got to maintain that form. If we do, then anything's possible."

Next up for York and Mills is Tuesday night's eagerly-awaited re-arranged trip to Luton – this season's original clash having been abandoned due to heavy snowfall in December.

The Hatters are strong fancies for automatic promotion and remain comfortably clear of York but Mills firmly believes the Minstermen can go there and win.

If in need of proof the City manager need only look to last weekend's tie at the Reebok, hailing the superb effort of his players and his delight at recent progress.

"I was very proud," said Mills of the Bolton showing. "I went in proud and came out prouder.

"We did well to get there in the first place but I knew we could go there and pick up a result and we nearly did. We were in with a chance of doing that.

"Unfortunately, with just over five minutes to go they got a deflection off Pars (Danny Parslow) bless him and it fell to the wrong man in Davies and he stuck it in. At the end of the day we didn't get what we deserved which was certainly a draw at least to take them back.

"Now we've got to move on and I think we learned a lot on Tuesday night – people were questioning from Saturday 'what are they going to be like on Tuesday – will they be okay?' but we were magnificent on Tuesday night and I thought the first half was the best we have played since I've been there."

"I'm delighted with the way it's going."

BY LEE SOBOT

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