1 Steve Watson won’t accept players failing to follow instructions

Any manager can abide certain individual imperfections if his players do all that is asked of them on the football pitch. Since his appointment, Steve Watson has regularly stressed that he wants to see midfielders breaking through defensive lines and, when Adriano Moke failed to make a positive run down the right flank to give an option for the man on the ball, it was telling that he was subsequently hauled off 12 minutes into the second period by the frustrated former Newcastle right-back.

Moke’s replacement Wes York, who played for Watson last season at Gateshead, went on to stretch the Stockport back-line with a darting off-the-ball run to the byline that led to the first goal the hosts had conceded in open play for nine games. The message was clear – if Moke, who is yet to claim a goal assist this season, is to figure in Watson’s plans going forward, he must demonstrate an ability to take on board and act upon the information he receives from the new boss.

York Press:

2 Forgotten man Alex Kempster’s stock has risen immeasurably

Unlike Moke, former PE teacher Kempster appears to have grasped Watson’s philosophy immediately. His 16th-minute, one-on-one finish, aimed straight at Hatters keeper Ben Hinchliffe, might not have been what was required, but his perceptive run from deep and desire to get into the penalty box will have pleased his manager.

Kempster made just one substitute appearance under Watson’s predecessor Sam Collins and there was a fear that he lacked the physicality to prosper at National League North level, but the former Whitley Bay attacker appears to have bulked up a little following his loan spell at Spennymoor and his well-taken goal was suggestive of a player who does know where the net is, with the National League North’s second-lowest away marksmen desperate for as many potential goal sources as possible.

York Press:

3 The search for a dependable centre-back pairing continues

Hamza Bencherif and Sean Newton became the ninth different central-defensive partnership York City have fielded during the last 16 fixtures at Edgeley Park and, in that time, 31 goals have been conceded, meaning that three goals, on average, have been needed at the other end to win a game of football. It is probably fair to assume, however, on Saturday’s showing, that Watson could look to audition a tenth duo this weekend.

Both Bencherif and Newton were beaten in the air as Stockport won three consecutive headers before Matty Warburton volleyed home the match’s opening goal on four minutes. Alex Kempster was guilty of losing the first challenge at the near post, but he improved in that respect from then on.

For the second goal, Frank Mulhern held off Bencherif in the penalty box, before laying off to Warburton. His 15-yard shot then found the gap between Bencherif and Newton, prompting the former to stick out a boot and deflect the effort past a helpless Adam Bartlett.

A third goal, later described as “unforgivable” by Watson given its source straight from the restart following Kempster’s 74th-minute reply, then saw Newton turned by his man before recovering to get a toe in, only for the centre-backs to get in each other’s way when Bencherif should probably have taken command, presenting Warburton with a simple chance to claim the match-ball.

York Press:

4 Matty Warburton exposed City’s lack of a matchwinner

Stockport attacker Warburton’s hat-trick was his third of the season. In contrast, City have only seen one player – Jon Parkin manage that feat during almost nine years.

Ever since Parkin plundered 37 goals during the calendar year of 2017, the Minstermen have lacked anybody with that priceless ability to take the game away from the opposition in what can, sometimes, only require a couple of moments of quality. Warburton arguably played better against City in last season’s corresponding fixture, when he scored and claimed an assist in a 2-0 triumph, but he still gratefully accepted all three of his invitations to have a shot at the visitors’ goal.

This season – and indeed across the whole of 2018 when defender Sean Newton scored the highest number of league goals with nine – City have lacked that match-changing potential. It has coincided with Parkin’s marginalisation and, although the wisdom of relying on a 37-year-old veteran whose out-of-shape appearance heralded widespread laughter from home supporters when he was introduced from the bench should be questioned, he nevertheless took a matter of three minutes to play the intuitive pass the team had been crying out for to set the move in motion that led to Kempster’s goal.

Parkin, due to his lack of fitness and age, does not appear to be the short or long-term fix in that respect, but Watson will be looking for a little craft to complement the graft, provided by the likes of Jordan Burrow and Jake Wright, in the Minstermen’s forward positions. The latter must also be seen more centrally, rather than repeatedly conceding free kicks on the flanks, if he is to be of more offensive use to the team.

York Press:

5 Stockport were quicker both in mind and body

Depending on whose opinion you listened to, it was always regarded that the first one to five yards of one-paced Manchester United and England legend Teddy Sheringham’s game were in his head. It is difficult, however, to attach that label to many of the current City squad, who continue to be more reactive than proactive.

The most startling examples of this frailty were exposed when Stockport raced to take two quick throw-ins just inside their own half and a daydreaming City were immediately exposed, leading to one opportunity that Frank Mulhearn might have scored from. An absence of alert minds also contributed to Stockport’s first and third goals from a corner and the centre circle respectively.

The swiftness demonstrated at throw-ins by the Hatters represented a marked contrast to the manner City normally saunter over to take set-pieces and helped set an infectious tempo for the home team. Likewise, when defending dead balls, it was evident for all to see how quickly all ten outfield players were back taking up positions in their own penalty box. It can be no coincidence that such intense focus and sense of purpose has contributed to the division’s joint-best defensive record, while City continue to concede a succession of embarrassing goals.