1 City would benefit from a little of Reece Thompson and Greg Smith’s tenacity

It is an understatement to suggest that Reece Thompson has rarely endeared himself to City supporters, either during his spell on their club’s books or with his antics since. His goading celebration in front of the Longhurst after scoring for relegation rivals North Ferriby last season, along with regular social media spats, has cemented his status in some circles as one of the most unpopular former players to pull on a City shirt.

Thompson’s display on Saturday, though, in the hosts’ frontline, alongside the equally-determined Greg Smith, gave his side genuine encouragement from the first whistle, as the pair harassed and unsettled the City back line with their willingness to chase every long ball forward. Their desire to win sometimes bordered on gamesmanship, as witnessed by Thompson’s miraculous recovery once Daniel Rowe was cautioned for fouling him.

But a little bit of devilment is a useful component in any striker’s armoury, as is controlled aggression, which was epitomised by the hulking Smith, who had run himself into the ground prior to his 84th-minute withdrawal. Not forgetting Jon Parkin’s prolific feats this term, City need more of both of those qualities from a forward line that could apply greater pressure on opposition defences.

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2 The Minstermen are missing stability in selection

Nine games into Martin Gray’s reign, the former Darlington chief has only fielded an unchanged side once – in the 1-1 home draw with Kidderminster following the 3-2 victory at Alfreton. During that time, five of the fixtures have been played with a new signing being integrated into the starting XI, and a sixth also saw Rowe introduced from the bench against Tamworth.

Such constant chopping and changing is making it difficult for City to formulate a consistent pattern of play. In recent years, the turnover of playing personnel has been ridiculous, aside from the second half of last season when City displayed top-ten form in the division above.

While the thirst for new signings at any club is always insatiable, they must be the right recruits and, at some point, it has to stop, as constant upheaval, in addition to being expensive, is normally only counter-productive. It is to be hoped that Gray, who has brought in seven players since his arrival two months ago, can soon determine the make-up of his best side from the squad currently assembled at Bootham Crescent, with only minor tinkering required.

York Press: IN CONTENTION: York City's Daniel Rowe could feature on Saturday after scoring on his debut last week

3 Gray is in need of a midfield general

If there is scope for further recruitment, though, there is one area of the pitch that should be the main priority. Not since Russell Penn was running around making tackles is it easy to recall a City midfielder breaking up play as effectively in that all-important engine room of a football pitch.

There has been a soft centre to the Minstermen’s play for too long and, with Gray repeatedly stressing the importance of players’ performances out of possession, this key issue needs addressing. At Boston, Rowe was once more stationed in the midfield anchor role, but looked perhaps what he is – a defender playing out of position.

Too static for long periods in a confined area of the pitch, he did not impose himself on the game or offer any discernible quality on the ball either. It will now be interesting to see whether Gray persists with the Middlesbrough-born, 22-year-old in front of his back four.

One option from within the squad might be to swap him with Saturday’s makeshift right-back Dan Parslow, who has performed such duties in the past – most notably when the Minstermen were fighting for Football League survival under Nigel Worthington.

York Press: City's Amari Morgan-Smith in action at Farsley on Saturday. Picture: Gordon Clayton

4 Amari Morgan-Smith must start hitting the net soon

The former Luton and Cheltenham forward might have been denied by a fine reflex save from home keeper George Willis, but he needs to get himself in such scoring situations on a more regular basis. Morgan-Smith has now gone 13 fixtures without a goal and has only managed to get his name on the scoresheet once in his last 19 games - a spectacular effort against Stockport, rather than the bread-and-butter type valued by any respected marksman.

That tally is a hugely disappointing return for a player who once plundered 21 goals in a season at this level for Ilkeston Town and has been on the scoresheet in League One. Still only 28, the forward is renowned for his industry, but that willingness and ability to run needs to be allied with a measure of incision.

Morgan-Smith’s pace should take him clear of opposition defences on a match-by-match basis in this country’s sixth tier, but it is hard to recall him in any one-on-one scenarios during recent weeks. Former Torquay striker James Gray, now without a goal in six appearances for City, needs to assert himself in that respect too, as it is unlikely that Adriano Moke, following his first goal in almost 100 games, can be relied upon to compensate for the occasions when Parkin cannot find the target.

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5 City continue to under-perform against teams in lower reaches

With another festive double-header against whipping boys Ferriby on the horizon serving as a haunting reminder of last season’s New Year’s Day defeat to the Thompson-inspired Humbersiders, little this term has suggested that the Minstermen have addressed their problems when tackling struggling sides. That Thompson goal would prove vital in the final reckoning, as City missed out on National League safety by a single point on the final day, with bottom-of-the-table Ferriby long since relegated.

Following this loss to second-bottom Boston, meanwhile, City have won just one of their seven encounters against teams that currently occupy the last eight positions in National League North. Even in that contest, the hosts almost threw away the chance of victory during a nervy 4-3 triumph over Nuneaton and a record of seven points from a possible 24 in such games, if not rectified, could prove costly again come the play-off shake-up at the end of April.