YORK City boss Steve Watson believes his team need to win “six or seven” of their last nine games to gatecrash the National League North play-offs.

The 11th-placed Minstermen currently have 45 points on the board, with the total required to finish seventh since the division’s introduction in 2004 ranging between 60 and 73 for a completed 42-game season.

The 18 points that would be gained from six victories would see City finish on 63, which has only been sufficient to secure a seventh spot in 25 per cent of the 12 relevant campaigns.

But only one club – Worcester back in 2004 – have managed to finish that high in the table with a lower haul.

Sixty-six points, which would be achieved with seven City triumphs, has been enough, meanwhile, to end the season in the same position during seven of those dozen terms.

That means higher tallies were required in the other five, with Brackley and Stockport needing 73 to come in seventh and eighth respectively during 2016/17.

But, with five of the Minstermen’s remaining nine fixtures pitching them against sides above them in the table, there is ample opportunity to inflict damage on play-off rivals, starting at Bootham Crescent this weekend against an Altrincham team, who currently occupy that coveted seventh place eight points ahead of their hosts.

Declaring that he feels a tilt at promotion has now become a “bit of a reality” following four straight wins, Watson reasoned: “I think we’ve got to win six or seven of our last nine games but last night’s game in Paris (when Manchester United overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to beat Paris St Germain with a stoppage-time penalty) proved anything is possible in football and we’ve just got to go for it. We’ll be setting up to win every game and the players are confident enough to do that, but we know the next game is a very big test.

“My first task when I came here was to get enough points to move us away from where we were, and we have done that. We also had to say at the time that there was still plenty to play for but, now with nine games to go, that has become a bit of a reality and something the players can definitely believe in.”

Watson added, though, that the players will still have to up their performance levels if they are to have a chance of extending their season beyond April 27.

“We’ve done really well during this run of games but, now, we’ve got a run of games where we’re playing virtually everyone in and around the play-offs, so every win we can put together will give us a better chance of leapfrogging people,” the City chief explained. “Altrincham are a very good side who play a good brand of football and are very brave on the ball.

“They have good options, but we have to make them defend and be a threat at home with everybody behind us. As well as we have done, we have to take another step now because what we have done might not be good enough to win the games we need to.

“But we’re seeing improvements all the time and the players are getting better mentally and physically. Take Scott Burgess, for instance.

“His energy levels and bravery have improved so much from his first couple of games and he’s one of a number of players who can still get better. Every mistake was also seen as such a disappointment and a negative by the players before, but I feel the mental strength has come on in leaps and bounds.

“David Mirfin has been a big help in terms of his experience and has formed a good partnership with Sean Newton. He’s now available to play again, although Hamza (Bencherif) came in and we kept another clean sheet, so there are options and decisions to make.”

The City boss went on to insist that he would not be absolving 17-goal top scorer Jordan Burrow from penalty duty, with his shoot-out effort in Tuesday night’s North Riding Cup defeat representing the third spot kick he has had saved this season.

Burrow has also been successful from 12 yards on six occasions this term and, with Alex Harris and Joe Tait blazing their shoot-out attempts over, nobody made a compelling case to assume responsibility at the Flamingo Land Stadium.

“Jordan wants to take them and he’s the captain, striker and top scorer,” Watson pointed out. “It’s not something I regard as an issue.

“We’ve got plenty of players who should be able to take penalties and it’s not at the top of my priority list in terms of what I’m thinking about.”