1 Jon Parkin can be a big player in both boxes for Martin Gray

Given his prolific exploits after leaving Bootham Crescent back in 2004, it is easy to forget that Parkin was employed almost as regularly as a centre back by the Minstermen as he cut his teeth in the professional game. His two goals against Brackley clearly confirm that he pursued the correct career path on leaving North Yorkshire but, while Martin Gray’s first game in charge will always be remembered for Parkin’s blockbuster of a free kick that secured the 2-1 win, the Barnsley-born behemoth also made several vital clearing headers from corners as the visitors threatened to render his earlier goal a mere consolation.

Gray has already declared he is “big” on set pieces, as evidenced by Parkin’s 20th-minute header after Sean Newton’s flag kick had been helped on the near post by Dan Parslow – a routine that was cultivated at the training ground during the former Darlington chief’s first week in the job. Defending dead-ball deliveries is clearly just as important to Gray and positioning Parkin in the right place at either end of the pitch will be an obvious tactical ploy going forward.

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2 Aidan Connolly is ready to contribute to the cause again

Nobody would condone the actions of any contracted footballer refusing to play for their club but, whatever the circumstances that led to Connolly seeking a transfer away from Bootham Crescent under previous boss Gary Mills, his performance against Brackley suggested that he is now pleased to be back in the fold following the appointment of Gray. The 22-year-old Scotsman’s close control and fluid movement in a front three gave the Minstermen a genuine forward impetus during the opening exchanges.

Connolly’s withdrawal just past the hour suggested his self-enforced exile has taken its toll in terms of match-fitness levels but, being able to call on the former Dundee United winger will give Gray tactical flexibility with his capacity to line up in a number of attacking positions and formations.

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3 City’s new boss is happy to give teenage talent a chance

At 16 years and 140 days, first-year, youth-team scholar Ryan Edmondson became the third-youngest player in City’s 95-year history when he replaced Amari Morgan-Smith on 73 minutes – a tactical change rather than one necessitated by injury. Only future Arsenal and Derby striker Reg Stockill - the scorer of the Minstermen’s first-ever Football League goal in 1929 - and centre-back Lee Grant, who went on play for Aston Villa in an FA Youth Cup final featuring the likes of Gary Cahill, Adam Johnson, Gabriel Agbonlahor and David Wheater before drifting out of the game, have been a more tender age than Edmondson at 15 years and 281 days and 16 years and 116 days respectively on making their senior City debuts.

The striker, who also became the first player born in this millennium to don the club’s colours in a competitive contest, did look like a rabbit caught in headlights at times, if truth be told, but the exposure with stakes high as the team looked to conjure up a winner under new boss Gray will have been of benefit as he learns the importance of thinking and acting quicker in the pro game.

With his own academy in the north-east, Gray looks more prepared to give youth a chance than his predecessor Gary Mills, who always favoured an experienced line-up. During Mills’ first two-and-a-half year reign and his more recent 11-month tenure, no home-grown teenagers made a single senior start, as chances were restricted to substitute outings for Callum Rzonca (seven), Tom Allan (four), Alex Bruton (one) and Reece Kelly (one).

Gray has stressed he wants the club to re-establish a reputation for nurturing young players. Whether that is achievable in the cut-and-thrust of National League North will be interesting to witness.

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4 Reputation will count for little under Gray

Edmondson and Kaine Felix’s preference to former Football League professionals Louis Almond and Connor Smith in the pecking order for attacking spots on the subs bench was one of a handful of surprises sprung by City’s new boss. The omissions were clearly designed to lay down a marker, though, by the ex-Darlington chief who, without referencing Almond or Smith, later insisted that places in his match-day squad would be determined by training-ground application, rather than past pedigrees.

With both players having illustrated their value at different stages this term, it is hoped the pair now respond positively to the challenge set by Gray, if it indeed it is levelled at them, during the coming days.

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5 City’s goalkeeping position is up for grabs

With his former Darlington net-minder Adam Bartlett revealing that he has turned down a move to Bootham Crescent, Gray was seemingly looking to strengthen his options between the sticks prior to Brackley’s visit. Despite winning The Press Player of the Month award for September, Jon Worsnop’s concession of two penalties in Mills’ last two matches at the helm represented regrettable timing as the new boss weighed up his options for the number-one shirt.

Luke Simpson, who was made available for a free transfer under Mills, was instead preferred and, having only been used as a stop-gap in the past prior to the swift arrivals of Kyle Letheren and Scott Loach, the Heywood-born, 23-year-old will be hoping lightning doesn’t strike thrice. He did his chances little harm with a fine reflex save from Alex Gudger as City came under pressure and, if he does get a hitherto elusive second chance to impress, it must be taken with both hands with Gray examining all possibilities as he evaluates his new squad.