1 A more ruthless and focussed approach is needed against the National League North’s lesser lights

Leamington became the sixth side in the bottom half of the table to take points off the Minstermen this term, with a total of 14 now dropped against such clubs. Two in the relegation zone – FC United of Manchester and Gainsborough – have beaten and shared the spoils with City respectively.

Following the opening-day defeat to Telford, currently placed 14th, there have also been subsequent draws against Darlington, Southport and Leamington, who are 12th, 16th and 18th respectively in the standings after Saturday’s games. In fact, City have won just once against outfits in that lower section and even that was an edgy affair with Nuneaton almost snatching a draw despite being outclassed for long periods of a 4-3 home victory.

They were not as lucky at Leamington and the Minstermen have got to quickly find a ruthless streak against the division’s more modest opponents, whilst also remaining professional until the final whistle. In telling contrast, there have been fewer problems against those teams harbouring loftier ambitions with three in the play-off positions – Blyth, Bradford Park Avenue and Brackley – all put to the sword or four if you include vanquished FA Cup opponents and this weekend’s hosts Salford.

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2 David Ferguson was a good option out wide in the injured Aidan Connolly’s absence

Ex-Championship campaigner Ferguson’s employment in an advanced role gave the side a really strong presence on the left flank in front of his fellow full-back Alex Whittle. Fielding two recognised defenders on one side of the pitch might be misconstrued as a negative move, but full-backs are expected to attack in the modern era and both players are comfortable charging forward with the ball and Ferguson has now netted five times this term.

Having a knowledge of both positions also naturally means the pair work well in tandem and their interplay at times was reminiscent of when Martin Foyle partnered James Meredith and Chris Carruthers together on the same wing during the 2009/10 Conference play-off final campaign. In fact, with Simon Heslop operating in an inside-right role, Gray’s 4-4-2 line-up was very similar to that favoured by Foyle when Alex Lawless would join in midfield moves from that side of the pitch.

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3 Set-plays need to be perfected in both boxes

If on-loan keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s long punt out of his hands is to be included then dead-ball situations have been responsible for five of the seven goals during Gray’s opening two fixtures, including three of the four City have scored and two of the three that have been conceded.

Being inventive with set-pieces at one end of the pitch – which has been a feature already under Gray with Dan Parslow peeling off to the far post to good effect at the New Windmill Ground – is vital. Of equal importance for any sixth-tier team with promotion aspirations, though, is defending them in a well-drilled, organised fashion and City’s longer hours on the training ground in comparison to many of their part-time opponents should give them an advantage in that area.

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4 You don’t always have to take the leather off the ball

Placement rather than power would have probably been the better policy as chance after chance went begging for City during a one-sided opening 45 minutes. It seems churlish to question Sean Newton’s decision-making in front of goal, given the quality of some of his past strikes in Minstermen colours, but the skipper’s two blasted attempts before the break needed to be better controlled.

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5 Making late defensive subs is never ideal

All managers endeavour to avoid making changes to their back four late in games unless forced upon them. Concerns over Whittle’s ongoing groin problem meant he gave way to centre-back Jassem Sukar late on and the cohesive unit that had appeared to be managing the game towards its natural conclusion was suddenly lost.

For Sukar, himself, being thrown into the defensive fray with 82 minutes on the clock would not have been easy, but his concentration and reaction levels needed to be better for both home goals.