YORK City chief Russ Wilcox is still hoping to bring Sheffield United striker Diego De Girolamo back to Bootham Crescent after watching his toothless team go down to Southend.
On-loan Spurs forward Shaq Coulthirst’s 88th-minute penalty settled matters at the seaside after York right-back Brad Halliday had tripped Joe Pigott.
But the Minstermen should have been out of sight at half-time with Luke Summerfield, Russell Penn and Keith Lowe all having chances to score for a side who have now netted once in their last five games.
De Girolamo, who has turned down a contract extension at Bramall Lane, netted four times in eight matches during two previous loan spells with York and, despite being linked with moves to Sunderland and Juventus, Wilcox is still keen for the Italian Under-20 international to join his third-bottom club’s fight for Football League survival.
He said: “The fact he has turned down a new deal might strengthen our position. I hope so because he is capable of providing you with that winning moment and he is calm in front of goal for a young player.”
In a one-sided first half, Summerfield was denied by a flying save from Daniel Bentley and Penn headed woefully wide.
Lowe had a header cleared off the line but the decisive moment came in the final throes when Halliday got caught the wrong side of Pigott, who tumbled to the deck and Coulthirst made no mistake from 12 yards.
Southend United: Bentley; White, Thompson, Binnom-Williams, Coker; Worrall (Hurst, 62), Leonard, Timlin, Atkinson (Weston, 58); Cassidy (Coulthirst, 75), Pigott. Unused substitutes: Payne, Deegan, Prosser, Smith.
York City: Olejnik; Halliday, Lowe, McCombe, Benning; Coulson, Penn (Montrose, 82), Summerfield, Carson; Hyde (Morris, 82), Sinclair (Fletcher, 74). Unused substitutes: McCoy, Winfield, Meikle, Ingham.
Referee: D Sheldrake (Surrey)
Man of the match: Joe Pigott.