YORK City boss Sam Collins is weighing up the pros and cons of persisting with a 3-5-2 formation for Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Blyth Spartans.

Collins switched to a four-man defence after 32 minutes of last weekend’s National League North contest at Southport when his team were lucky to be only trailing 1-0.

The Minstermen subsequently went on to win 2-1, although Simon Heslop’s 84th-minute winning strike was the only effort on goal the visitors mustered in the second half.

When he started his caretaker reign, Collins secured the club’s first back-to-back clean sheets for more than a year with a fluent 4-3-3 formation during the 0-0 draw at Brackley and 2-0 home win over Blyth.

Prior to Southport, though, City had plundered six goals in consecutive contests against Guiseley (4-2) and Nuneaton (2-2) and, with Blyth having changed their formation slightly since the August triumph, Collins is still considering his tactical approach for this weekend’s fourth qualifying round tie.

He said: “We looked more comfortable and solid when we switched to a back four at Southport, but we created chances and scored a few goals with 3-5-2 and we’ve watched Blyth a few times, so we’ve got to decide which is the best way to go to get us a result.

“But, however we line up, we can’t be as wide open as we were from the start against Southport because, with 3-5-2, I wanted us to be a back five without the ball. We were just a three, though, too many times last Saturday and found ourselves man for man back there.”

Centre-back Joe Tait remains a doubt due to a tight hamstring, while Hamza Bencherif (infected mouth), Jake Wright (ankle) and Macaulay Langstaff (hip) all have minor concerns that will need assessing before team selection is finalised.

Heslop, meanwhile, will play his last game before serving a one-match suspension and, after the ex-Oxford and Stevenage midfielder scored his first goal of the campaign at Southport, Collins admitted he wants to see the former Huntington School pupil finding the net on a more regular basis.

“We’re trying to get him scoring because, otherwise, his all-round play has been excellent for me,” Collins reasoned. “He wants to score goals and we’re trying to tweak things a little, so he can get in better positions to go and do that.”

Should City draw at Croft Park, the two clubs will meet again on Tuesday night for a Bootham Crescent replay, but Collins added that he is targeting victory at the first time of asking.

“We won’t be setting out to go and draw the game,” the City chief declared. “I want to go there, play well and win but, if it pans out that we draw the game, it gives us a second chance to go through and we’ve done reasonably well at home.”

Collins also expects Blyth to respond positively to their 4-0 league defeat at Boston last weekend, reasoning: “I’m sure we will have a game on our hands.

“Nobody wants to get beaten 4-0 and I’m sure there will be a reaction to that. The manager won’t be happy with the result and, if the players have anything about them, they won’t be either.

“But we should be full of confidence. We didn’t play well but won the game last weekend and we’ve played well previously and won games, so we’re on a bit of a roll.

“But nobody should think what we’ve done so far is enough, because we’re nowhere near where I want us to be. It’s only a start and we have to be a lot, lot better all-round with and without the ball.”

With his sizeable squad, Collins welcomes the chance to name seven substitutes again for the Cup clash and believes the same quota should be allowed in non-League football to fall in line with bench numbers for games in the country’s top four divisions.

Whether he includes Ryan Whitley in the dugout for goalkeeping cover, though, will depend on the perceived threats Blyth pose.

“I thought the way Southport played, we needed Ryan on the bench and, in another situation with the penalty, Adam (Bartlett) might have got sent off, so we look at the opposition every time we decide who the substitutes are going to be,” Collins explained. “I also can’t see why we can’t have seven subs in the league.

“I don’t think it’s a cost issue, as there are no overnight stays at this level as such and I’d like to have two more lads involved in the squad to keep everybody happy.”