YORK City boss Martin Gray is challenging his players to hunt down third place in the National League North table.

The Minstermen lie fourth in the table ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to fellow play-off hopefuls Kidderminster.

Victory against the sixth-placed Midland hosts, who have played two games fewer, would move City seven points clear of their opponents, although defeat would obviously reduce that gap to just one.

Three points for the visitors at Aggborough could also cut the deficit to third-placed Brackley to five points if the Northamptonshire side lose at Gainsborough Trinity on the same night.

Brackley will still boast two games in hand too, but Gray is determined to chase the third-place finish that would guarantee his team a home tie in the play-off semi-finals and remove the requirement to participate in the first contests between clubs ending the campaign fourth to seventh.

If the second-placed outfit are then defeated in their play-off, last-four clash, third position would also ensure Gray’s team host the final on Sunday, May 13.

Stressing the importance of the trip to Worcestershire, the City boss admitted: “It’s a massive game for the club.

“We’ve put ourselves in a great position after Saturday’s win and need to back that up. We’re fourth now and we’re looking at that third spot and it’s all about whether we can get it.

“It’s achievable and you’ve got to have targets. Teams have games in hand, but some of those clubs have to play each other too.

“We want to be at home in the play-offs - that’s for sure and second or third place will be the aim for every team below those positions who have that chance at this moment in time. Our results have been good at Bootham Crescent recently and we want that big home fixture in front of a sell-out crowd.”

Gray went on to insist his team have proven they can be defensively strong, regardless of whether they line up with a back three or four.

The Minstermen switched to a 3-5-2 formation for Saturday's 1-0 home win against Boston, but also defeated league leaders Salford last month fielding a four-man defence.

In fact, either side of the 4-1 debacle at Curzon Ashton, Gray's side have only conceded two goals in four contests and the ex-Sunderland midfielder argued that the right mental attitude is more influential in the quest for defensive solidity than any tactical system.

"We weren’t great in the first half against Boston, but we didn’t concede," Gray reasoned ahead of tonight's trip to Kidderminster. "At Curzon, we conceded three horrendous goals but, like us, Darlington and Gainsborough won 1-0 late on at the weekend just by staying in games and, if you do that, you can always regroup and shake things up.

"The games against Salford and Boston have given us a belief that we can win 1-0 either with a back four or a back three and, whatever the formation is, you need the same mentality. Adam Bartlett made a great save with his chest on Saturday, but that was the only chance they created really, and we need to win games 1-0 and 2-0 by being stronger defensively than we have been."

Gray is not paying much heed, though, to Kidderminster's current form, which has seen last season's National League North runners-up lose their last three matches.

"They are a good team and I have seen the best of them," the City boss declared. "I’ve watched them numerous times and saw them lose 2-0 to Harrogate most recently when they were playing against a 4-4-2, but they could have been in charge of the game if they had taken their chances.

"They overplayed at times but, if they do what they are good at, they will cause you problems, so I’m aware of their strengths and we’ve got to go down there and be very solid, disciplined, hard to beat and aggressive in our approach."

Gray saw no point, meanwhile, in suggesting that 25-goal, top-scorer Jon Parkin might not earn an instant recall to the team after serving his three-match suspension.

"He’ll come back into the team," the Bootham Crescent chief confirmed. "There’s no question about that and there’s no point hiding the fact because Jon plays a massive role in what we are trying to do."