1 Bradford Park Avenue can provide the blueprint for a successful recruitment drive

Having been given the green light to reinvigorate a struggling squad with new faces, Sam Collins might be best advised to study the transfer market activity of title-challenging Bradford boss Mark Bower. The former City defender has seemingly followed a similar policy to that adopted by ex-Bootham Crescent chiefs Martin Foyle and Gary Mills during the respective Confernce play-off campaigns of 2009/10 and 2011/12 by making high-calibre signings from the same division.

Improvements in playing fortunes at Bootham Crescent were quickly achieved when Foyle brought in the likes of Alex Lawless, Michael Rankine, Luke Graham, Neil Barrett and Chris Carruthers from rival clubs, while the seeds for Mills’ double-Wembley winning heroics were sewn after he identified the likes of Jason Walker, Lanre Oyebanjo, Matty Blair, Andre Boucaud and Chris Smith as his chief targets.

Similarly, in League Two, Nigel Worthington wisely drafted in perennial play-off campaigners Keith Lowe and Russ Penn from Cheltenham, as well as two-time promotion winner John McCombe, to guide his team to within two victories of promotion into the third tier of English football four-and-a-half years ago – a level last plied by the club in 1999. Familiarity with the relevant standard and a first-hand knowledge of what was needed to achieve success individually, as a team player or both were key factors in those three City sides’ achievements.

In Bower’s first XI against the Minstermen, two-goal striker Jake Beesley won the National League North title with Salford last season, keeper Steven Drench and Nicky Clee are both previous play-off final winners, while Mark Ross captained Stockport before joining Avenue and Luca Havern was Telford’s Player of the Year. All five looked comfortable and confident in their ability at a level where too many City players seem unsure of their capabilities and the team’s potential.

Chorley – the only side now ahead of Bradford in the National League North standings – also boast a group of players who are, in the main, well-versed in what is required at the sixth tier of the English game. There are, of course, the odd exception to that general recruitment rule and a couple of well-scouted, promising youngsters from higher divisions can prove inspired additions, as the examples of Ben Gibson and Nick Pope proved for Mills and Worthington respectively.

Bower has not neglected that market either, on Saturday’s evidence, with ex-Leeds United under-23 attacker Lewis Knight the best player on the pitch and former Huddersfield youth-team winger Jamie Spencer crashing in the goal of the game. As Yorkshire neighbours, City should be patrolling a similar catchment area to Avenue and have access to the same players.

With both Collins and his predecessor Martin Gray both emphasising how well Minstermen players are paid in the regionalised game too, this should be borne out very differently in terms of the clubs’ recent transfer market fortunes. Collins now faces the biggest test of his three-month managerial reign, as he looks to strengthen his ranks and, with seven of the current squad still contracted to the club beyond the end of this season, the Minstermen can ill afford any unwanted burdens on their wage bill.

It must be hoped that a small number of appropriate, proven recruits can be targeted, rather than the scattergun approach most recklessly adopted by ex-boss Jackie McNamara and also witnessed under Gray last term.

York Press: Daniel Parslow

2 Dan Parslow has to be given a chance

Given Sam Collins’ desire now for a team that will “fight and scrap” for every minute of each game, the claims of club stalwart Dan Parslow cannot be ignored any longer. Somewhat puzzlingly, although he was ruled out with a knee niggle at the weekend, Parslow has remained marginalised at Bootham Crescent this season, limited to just the one substitute outing in the 5-0 FA Cup win against Ashton Athletic that saw him break into the top ten of the club’s all-time appearances’ list.

Cheltenham’s Player of the Year during their Conference title-winning season just two-and-a-half years ago, it is hard to believe that the former Welsh under-21 international has declined to the point that he couldn’t offer something better to the back line than was evidenced against Bradford and at Spennymoor in midweek. Facial scars, earned on the pitch in action for City, also tell more than words could about his willingness to “fight and scrap” for the club he has represented 380 times.

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3 The team must find a dependable marksman

While Sam Collins is unhappiest with his team’s defensive shortcomings, the struggling side would also benefit from a reliable matchwinner. Indeed, while the Minstermen’s goals-against record of 22 is the same as automatic promotion hopefuls Bradford this term and the 11th-best in the division, the goals-scored column is the 16th-lowest in National League North.

Saturday’s marksman – defender Sean Newton – remains the only City player to have netted more than once in any of the club’s 15 league games this season. In contrast, braces from Spennymoor’s Glen Taylor and Jake Beesley have contributed to the Minstermen’s downfall, meanwhile, in their last two fixtures.

Three of the division’s four bottom teams now have a leading marksman who has netted more league goals than their City counterpart Macaulay Langtstaff, who has hit the target five times in 2018/19. FC United’s Kurt Willoughby, Ashton United’s Matthew Chadwick and Nuneaton’s Dior Angus can all better that tally, as can the top scorer at 13 other National League North teams.

Last season, the Minstermen could rely on veteran Jon Parkin to score the goals needed to pick up victories or secure a share of the spoils. Parkin is seemingly no longer a first choice in attack but, with three league goals, has still mustered more than fellow forwards Jordan Burrow (two) and Jake Wright (one).

Somebody must swiftly step forward to fill the ex-Championship campaigner’s considerably-sized boots if City are to become a force to be feared in the final third again.

York Press:

4 Sam Collins will not accept ill-discipline in his ranks

The former Hartlepool caretaker manager has barely uttered a critical word when discussing individual players during his time at the Bootham Crescent helm, but he pulled few punches concerning skipper Joe Tait’s red card for striking Jake Beesley with a flailing arm and giving away the penalty that led to Bradford’s opening goal, insisting the player would receive the maximum fine possible.

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5 Some players might have finally run out of lives in a City shirt

Sam Collins’ post-match comments suggested some form of overdue watershed moment at Bootham Crescent, with certain players whose displays have consistently failed to hit the required standards unlikely to be given further opportunities. Saturday’s team sheet at Swindon, therefore, should be telling in terms of who has lost the manager’s trust following a third defeat in eight days.