1 Full-backs can be just as effective marauding forward as wing-backs

When Steve Watson recalled Kallum Griffiths and David Ferguson into the starting XI after reverting to a back four, he described the pair as “proper full-backs”, insinuating that the defensive side of their games would probably help stem the tide for a team that had shipped eight goals in the previous three fixtures when the former Gateshead manager’s previously-preferred 3-5-2 formation was employed. Just one goal conceded in three hours of football since the switch offers plenty of support for such an assertion, but the pair are also proof that defensive discipline in wide areas doesn’t have to lead to the sacrifice of attacking thrust down the flanks.

Ferguson has only started 21 of City’s 37 league and cup contests this term, but his assists’ return of four is only beaten by two players – Jordan Burrow (ten) and Alex Harris (five). He has also netted two times this season, meaning he has been directly involved in six goals – either assisting or scoring – with only strikers Burrow, Macaulay Langstaff and Jake Wright, as well as midfielder Harris, boasting higher contributions.

Former Spennymoor defender Griffiths, who has also been in and out of the side, claimed a goal and an assist against Kidderminster and missed an easier opportunity to get on the scoresheet during the second half. He has now directly teed up three goals for team-mates in 2018/19 and the duo’s stats compare favourably with the assist figures of Wes York (three) and Sean Newton (one), who had been tasked with providing forward impetus as wing-backs prior to the tactical change.

Watson will be delighted and, perhaps a little surprised, that Griffith and Ferguson have demonstrated an ability to lock down their flanks, whilst offering attacking support at the right moments to maintain a threat on both sides of the pitch.

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2 Away fortunes could be changing

City’s travails on their travels have been long-established. Martin Gray finished last season by taking just one point from a possible 24 in the club’s last eight away fixtures, when winning just two of those contests would have been sufficient to secure a play-off place.

This season, meanwhile, before winning 3-2 at Alfreton, the Minstermen had endured a miserable run of eight straight league defeats. Much has been made about the team’s inability to claim back-to-back league victories for 13 months before ending that hoodoo at Aggborough, but the key contributing factor in that sorry sequence has been the club’s regrettable record on the road.

Before the Alfreton match, just ten points from a possible 66 had been taken in the 22 journeys undertaken since the 5-3 January 2018 triumph at Telford that had represented the last occasion City had won consecutive National League North fixtures. Sixteen of those games were lost, which contrasts considerably with the ten wins and seven draws achieved in 23 Bootham Crescent contests during the corresponding period.

Four of those home successes came in successive league encounters on the club’s own soil, while the Kidderminster win also marked the first time City have secured six points from a possible six during consecutive away games since that Telford win. Watson is correct not to get carried away with what he regards as “small steps in the right direction” but, if he can reverse the club’s deep-seated problems outside of Bootham Crescent, it would represent a huge stride forward.

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3 City’s defensive shape is much improved in open play

In between Ashley Chambers’ weak 25-yard effort just past the quarter-hour mark and sub Ed Williams’ firmer attempt from a similar distance on 70 minutes, Kidderminster did not muster a goal attempt of any description. During that passage of time, the Harriers still enjoyed significant spells of possession but, going just six minutes short of an hour without facing a single shot, speaks volumes for the Minstermen’s off-the-ball organisation in general play.

City were eventually undone by a free kick for Joe Ironside’s equaliser – a set-piece frailty that still needs to be addressed given that three of Ashton’s four chances in the previous game came from corner kicks – but David Mirfin’s addition to the back-line in a four-man defence has undeniably made the team more difficult to breach.

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4 If Steve Watson stays calm, so can his players

When asking current and past players about Steve Watson’s qualities as a manager one of the recurring themes has been his unflappable personality. Having seen his team concede a 75th-minute equaliser, Watson could have easily looked to make changes to elicit a response from a team that has not normally responded well to setbacks in the recent past.

Instead, the City boss, who could be heard repeatedly urging Wes York to “back himself” when running at home left-back Joel Taylor, kept faith in the personnel and system that started the game. For the first time this season, the Minstermen didn’t make a substitution – the fewest previous number of replacements in a 2018/19 fixture was two and the maximum three permitted have been used in all but ten games.

That faith in the 11 players selected and refusal to panic might have just translated on to the pitch, where the team stuck to the game-plan and merited the rewards that came their way following Scott Burgess’ 83rd-minute winner.

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5 Adriano Moke might be reinvented…again

With his ability to retain possession and surge forward with the ball, not to mention slight frame, former Glenn Hoddle Academy graduate Moke, now 29, has ostensibly been regarded as an offensive player during his career. But his goal and assists stats – he has contributed two and none respectively this term – do not fit the job description.

At Kidderminster, though, Steve Watson had Moke harnessing his stamina and speed in a different and, arguably, more effective manner, as he harassed and closed down opponents and stole possession with swift interceptions to ensure City won their fair share of second balls in the midfield engine room. Moke has, in the past, had a tendency to drift out of games, but he was proactive, rather than reactive, throughout and involved from minute one to 94.

Asking Moke to simplify his game and concentrate on being more destructive, than constructive, might just unlock a surprise and welcome dimension to his game.