JORDAN Burrow has cited an improvement in the team’s defensive play as the key factor behind York City’s recent transformation in fortunes.

The Minstermen have become play-off contending outsiders following a run of four straight National League North victories.

Only one goal has been conceded in that period, compared to 11 in the previous quartet of fixtures.

At the other end of the pitch, meanwhile, a tally of seven goals is just one more than was scored during those previous four contests when only three points were collected.

But, with City having netted in all of their eight games under Steve Watson and only been kept off the scoresheet once during their last 14 matches, Burrow believes a new-found ability to shut-out the opposition could prove crucial during the final nine fixtures of the season, saying: “We’re looking a bit more solid and resolute at the back and, sometimes then, you only need to score one goal to win a game. Over the course of the season, we’ve scored in the majority of matches, but we’ve also conceded too many.

“Now, though, as brilliant as the defenders and keeper have been, the whole team are contributing to keeping the ball out of the back of the net.”

City have also won their last three matches without 17-goal talisman Burrow making the scoresheet, as he had done in the previous 11 triumphs.

On that statistic, the Sheffield-born 26-year-old joked: “I’d rather have scored all those goals,” before adding: “But I feel now that the wide players are playing off me more and the midfielders are getting further forward, so I’ve got a lot of bodies around me and chances are falling to other people, so we’re getting goals from other areas, which is good.”

Despite being tantalisingly close to racking up 20 goals in a season for the first time in his career, the unselfish Burrow still places that target far behind team aspirations, declaring: “Reaching 20 goals is something that’s in the back of my mind but the main priority for me, as it always has been, is to be part of a successful team.

“The goals are brilliant and the personal accolades are good but, if the team are winning and I’m playing every week, that reflects better on me than if I’m scoring but the team are struggling and I’ve enjoyed the last few wins just as much when I haven’t scored.

“I believe we can still get to where we want to be. It’s tough but it’s still a possibility and there’s a belief in the dressing room and a feeling that we’re building something.”

Burrow is one of five players, along with Adam Bartlett, Sean Newton, Kallum Griffiths and Adriano Moke, who kicked off the last game with Altrincham, expected to start in tomorrow’s return fixture at Bootham Crescent.

A resounding 3-0 defeat in Cheshire saw then manager Sam Collins confronted by a pitch-invading supporter during the latter stages and Burrow revealed that the players feel a responsibility to repay fans who travelled over the M62 that afternoon.

“They were a good passing side when we played them and they have had a couple of good results recently,” Burrow pointed out. “But we’re on a good run ourselves and it’s a big game so, if we get off to a good start and get the fans behind us, it can be a good game for us.

“We were totally outplayed by them in November, so we owe them one and owe our fans who went there that day.”

Burrow also hopes the team can demonstrate greater incision than was evident during Tuesday’s 0-0 North Riding Senior Cup semi-final draw at Scarborough that subsequently ended in a 3-0 penalty shoot-out defeat.

On that disappointment, the ex-Stevenage striker said: “We got in some good areas but, maybe, the final ball wasn’t what we needed and we didn’t test their keeper enough. It was very disappointing night because there were quite a few fans there and it was a good occasion in terms of the atmosphere.”

Having seen his penalty saved, before Joe Tait and Alex Harris skied their efforts over, Burrow went on to admit that the side’s shoot-out prowess is in need of fine-tuning.

“You need to have the minerals to go up and take one, but mine was saved and the other players picked their spot but then got it wrong,” he confessed. “We all held our hands up afterwards and it’s something we’ll definitely have to work on.”

Burrow was one of five players who started last weekend’s 1-0 win at Leamington who faced Scarborough for the Tuesday night contest, but he did not mind being on duty in a tournament that has been regarded as a reserve-team competition in the past

“I welcomed the game,” he said. “We’re here to play games of football and I knew it was quite a big game for our fans, so I was looking forward to it.

“I prefer playing on grass, but there’s no excuses. It was a true surface, the ball ran well and we’ve all played on 3G before.”