SEAN Newton is happy that Bradford Park Avenue will be desperate for three points when they host York City this afternoon.

Now in the final week of the season, the 13th-placed visitors head to Horsfall Stadium with only pride at stake, but Newton admitted that the fact Avenue need points to try and cement a National League North play-off place will add more meaning to the bank-holiday, Yorkshire derby – albeit for reasons he would never have wanted this term.

A run of just one win from their last five matches has put Bradford’s top-seven spot under serious threat and, with a final-day trip to title hopefuls Chorley wrapping the regular season up for Mark Bower’s men, Newton knows the home side won’t be shy in coming forward, which he feels could benefit the Minstermen.

“If you’re playing games and both teams are in mid-table at this stage of the season, you obviously want to win, but the atmosphere isn’t as good,” Newton confessed. “Friday was good because Spennymoor needed to win and we always have a good following.

“I think the fact that Bradford need to win as well will benefit that game and, hopefully, we can hit them on the counter."

City will be making their first trip to Bradford since August 2017 when, under Gary Mills, the visitors soared to a 5-0 success that remains their best at sixth-tier level.

Three more managers have taken charge of the Minstermen since that victory and Newton, along with Josh Law and Adriano Moke, is one of three surviving members on duty that day who started Friday’s 3-2 home defeat to Spennymoor.

Admitting that the unpredictable nature of National League North football has been a shock to him since that last visit to Bradford, Newton said: “It’s a frustrating league and totally different to the one above.

“In some ways, it can seem harder, because teams play off-the-cuff so much. In the league above, play is more structured.

“Players track back and do the right things but, at this level, players go in mad areas. If I look back over the last two seasons, it’s hard to keep my head on my shoulders because it’s been so frustrating.

“I can’t wait now to see this season through and, hopefully, if I am in the gaffer’s plans for next season, I can play how I have been doing over the last six weeks.”

Newton started on the left-side of a back three against Spennymoor, before switching to the centre of a back four in the second half, as City reverted to 4-3-3.

But, with manager Steve Watson having previously stated that he prefers to play with wing-backs and two centre forwards, Newton reckons the summer would now present a better time to work on that formation.

“I thought the system was alright against Spennymoor but, when you play three at the back, you’ve got to work on it a lot in terms of the positions of the centre-halves and wing-backs,” he reasoned. “It’s a tough formation to play and, while we created a lot of chances with it, I thought we were more comfortable with a back four.

“Maybe the personnel we have now suits a back four more but, if we have a full pre-season to work on it, rather than when we’ve got a game to prepare for, then that will give us the chance to master the positions and how the gaffer wants us to play.”

Having conceded from a free kick and a corner during the previous weekend’s 2-2 draw at Chester, the first two goals shipped against Spennymoor also came from flag-kick deliveries, with Newton admitting the team are looking frail in set-play situations despite regular training-ground drills.

The Liverpool-born, 30-year-old added: “As a defender, it does not look good when you concede three goals, but I’ve been told Spennymoor’s forward (Glen Taylor) is one of the best in the league and I don’t think he had a kick or a shot all game, so me and Jasp (Jasper Moon) did well in open play against him, but we are conceding too many goals from set-plays.

“My ankle gave way for the first and their guy got ahead of me, but teams also seem to be quicker to react and it’s not as if we don’t work on them in training. We do but, in games, we look really vulnerable at set-plays and that’s frustrating.”

Newton did head in himself from a corner against Spennymoor and, after netting his sixth goal of the season, the former Wrexham defender revealed that he had been challenged by assistant-manager Micky Cummins to be more of a threat in the opposition penalty box.

“We’ve been working on attacking set-plays a lot in training too and Micky has been telling me I should be scoring more from them,” Newton explained. “Luckily, I got one but, unfortunately, we didn’t kick on from there.”

Newton feels that the team have also been held back by their shot conversion rate this term, arguing: “We had some great one-on-one chances against Spennymoor and should have gone in comfortably ahead at half-time but were 1-0 down instead.

“We then got a great goal from Kempy (Alex Kempster), only to get sucker-punched. But we got on the front foot again after making it 2-2, only for them to go and get the winner, which seems to have been the story of our season. Teams have three or four opportunities and pretty much take them all against us, while we have six or seven great chances and we don’t take enough of them.”

City will need to prevent on-loan Salford striker Jake Beesley from adding to his 20-goal tally for Bradford this afternoon.

The hosts also have ex-Minsterman Oli Johnson in their ranks.

He has netted nine times this season but has not hit the target since January 12.