IT may be a few more weeks before we see York City at their best, believes Steve Watson - but there were encouraging signs for the boss on Tuesday night.

Owen Gamble and Jack Redshaw were both involved for the first time this season as an effervescent second-half City display earned the Minstermen a 3-2 win at Southport.

They went the hard way about it. After a first 45 in which Watson believes his side showed the greater goal threat, York were 1-0 down as the second half kicked off.

Redshaw was introduced for the hard-working Jake Cassidy at half-time and showcased his ability on the ball as the quintessential diminutive trickster. Married with the drive of Harry Bunn, York looked refreshingly creative.

Two near-identical free kicks from 30 yards out gave captain Sean Newton the chance to hit a brace either side of Port's second goal, which looked a flash in the pan at the time - and was confirmed as such when Bunn thumped home 13 minutes from time.

"Owen Gamble's been outstanding tonight in his first full game for us," said Watson.

"He's beyond his years the way he plays the game, always puts himself in good positions.

"People like Bunn and Redders - we can't not play players when they've had injuries because we'll never get them back to where they need to be.

"That was probably the first time Bunny looked like the player we know he is.

"I think the same thing will happen to Redders.

"I think the one that Bunn squared for him, I think a confident, fully fit Jack would have side-footed that first time. I think because a couple of things hadn't gone the way he planned, he took that extra touch, but that will come with match sharpness.

"I've said before, we're not going to be the finished article for two, three, four or five weeks yet but as long as we're picking up points and improving, that's half the battle."

This was York's first game back after a coronavirus-enforced three-week lay-off.

"It's been frustrating," Watson commented. "We had a rushed pre-season - as did everybody. But when you bring in 15 new players it's a bit more difficult.

"We had a relatively decent start. I'm not totally thrilled with it but we did have a lot of injuries and players who hadn't played for a long time like Bunny. Akil and Browny got injuries.

"Everything happens for a reason and there was a chance to have the injuries get better and I think that second half, certainly, you saw a little bit more like what we're trying to do this season.

"Obviously we were disappointed with the goals we conceded," he continued.

"Reacting quickly to everything in a match situation is probably going to take that bit of time to get going again, and that's probably what happened on the two goals.

"And at the other end - first half we got in and around where we wanted to be enough but we did look rusty with the final pass and the weight of the final pass.

"We tested their keeper probably more than they tested ours.

"Apart from the ball that dropped through, Pete didn't have a save to make.

"We knew at half-time we would only get better and we knew that the way we were trying to play today, which was a little bit different, that we had the bodies and ability to make it count.

"Over the period, me and Micky had a chance to chat about it and we knew we need to create more and get all the very good players in the right areas of the pitch. That meant going to a back four today with Tinks sitting in front of them."

The free kick strikes were skipper Newton's third and fourth goals of the season in all competitions, following on from another such set piece at Warrington Rylands in the FA Cup and a powerful finish in the league draw at Farsley Celtic.

For a brief moment, second-half substitute Redshaw was stood over the ball for the first City goal alongside Newton, whose shot took a nick off the wall on its way into Dan Hanford's net.

Watson joked: "He'd be a brave man to take Newts off a free kick, the way he's been taking them this season and the way he practises every day.

"We got a little bit of luck - but their first goal, they got a bit of luck.

"Second half, we created a hell of a lot. Dan Hanford had a lot of saves to make and that's what we've been looking for.

"On chances created, we've got to be delighted."