YORK City coach Steve Torpey has told striker James Gray not to become despondent as he looks to end an 11-game wait for his first goal for the club.

Gray, who joined the Minstermen from Torquay in October, missed a stoppage-time sitter to open his account during Saturday's 2-1 win at Darlington.

The 25-year-old forward, who last netted for the Gulls during a 1-1 draw at Barrow in mid-September, also smashed a shot against the bar during a 2-1 defeat for Torpey's reserve side at Grimsby this afternoon when youth-team scholar Noah Jackson got the visitors' goal.

But Torpey, who hit the target 176 times as a Football League professional for the likes of Swansea, Bristol City and Scunthorpe, spotted "promising signs" in Gray's second-string run-out and reasoned: "I went through a spell of about 12 games when I never scored and you do start to think when's it going to end.

"Stuff like hitting the bar with a really good shot also happens during runs like that. He made a great connection on the ball and, when you're on form and confident, that ends up in the back of the net, but he's just got to keep going and not get too despondent or disheartened, while sticking to his natural game.

"Then, the goals will come. He kept working hard and was really unlucky with the one that hit the bar, but there are promising signs, because he's getting in the areas to score.

"It would have been nice from him to smash one in from long range, but he probably needs one to go in off his backside and then he'll be off."

Gray was replaced midway through the second half against the Mariners with Saturday's National League North home match with Bradford Park Avenue in mind, while Simon Heslop played the opening 45 minutes, suggesting that he could be welcomed back into the first-team fold after previously indicating that he wanted to move on.

Explaining the substitutions, Torpey added: "Hessie felt his hamstring, but it wasn't anything major and just precautionary. He was playing to keep on top of his fitness, so he's up to speed in case he's back in the first team or in the frame.

"James came off to keep him fresh if he's required for Saturday, I guess. I was just given instructions to make the subs."

City sporting director Dave Penney was also in the visitors' dugout at Grimsby's Cheapsides training ground and, with a flood of reserve fixtures to fulfil during the second half of the campaign, Torpey pointed out that will provide the club's second-year scholars with a great chance to press their claims for pro terms.

"We want to win, but the reserve games are about development and we had four players from the youth team starting, which was good experience for them against a strong Grimsby team," youth-team manager Torpey explained after the reserves' fifth defeat from five Central League contests this term. "Dave (Penney) was here to watch them and, while the management team receive my feedback, it's important that they see the players in the flesh and make their own minds up.

"All the games coming up are a great opportunity for the guys and I was really pleased with all of them. Flynn (McNaughton) did well in the second half, Harry (Thompson) did well slotting in at right back when he's a midfielder, Noah scored a good goal and Josh Rogerson was calm and composed at the back again.

"The two goals we conceded were disappointing but, in general, our lot showed a good attitude."

On Jackson's 12th-minute goal, meanwhile, Torpey said: "We used Sam's long throw, because we know it's a weapon and Noah timed his run well to send a powerful header back where it came from."

Clovis Kamdjo did not feature, as planned, on his comeback from cruciate ligament damage, because he suffered a minor calf problem in training.