YORK City boss Martin Gray has admitted it his time for his side to deliver, having stamped out the “ill-discipline” he felt was curtailing the team’s progress.

The Minstermen were seventh when Gray took over the managerial reins from Gary Mills at the beginning of October and have since dropped four places in the standings, with the former Darlington chief confessing that the job was bigger than he anticipated on succeeding the three-time Wembley winner.

Gray, though, remains determined to bring success back to Bootham Crescent and wants to start that process by ending 2017 on a winning note with Saturday’s home match against Blyth Spartans followed by a Boxing Day trip to bottom-of-the-table North Ferriby.

The former Sunderland midfielder, who won three promotions in five years at Darlington and will ask his team to report in for training on Christmas Day, said: “We’ve seen little pockets of progression and we dominated the second half at Kidderminster, but we’ve got to put in a great performance now, because I can’t keep talking and saying the right things.

“It’s time to deliver and the players have got to give the fans and chairman something to smile about by starting to win games. The players are giving me energy and desire, so there are lots of plusses and, personnel wise, we are getting there and I feel a win will set us off on a really strong run.

“But we can’t wait much longer for that – it’s got to happen now, because I’ve never been one to hide behind anything and we’ve got good enough players to be putting in better performances over 90 minutes. We’ve had to make a lot of changes off the pitch, because there was a bit of ill-discipline around the club and, until you get that right, the rest takes a bit longer.

“The job was bigger than I thought it was when I came in and we’ve moved a lot of players out and looked at how to restructure and improve things. That’s gone on behind the scenes and the players have all bought into it now and have got to back that up with performances and results.

“We’ve got to finish the year strongly and the aim is still promotion. We’ve got to make sure we’re in those play-offs and that we give the club something to celebrate.

“We’re not bottom of the league – we’re just points away from where we want to be, so we’re in a position where we can push on. As a management team, we’re working very hard to prepare the players for games to the best of our ability.

“The players have also got to perform to the best of their ability on a Saturday.”

Skipper Sean Newton, meanwhile, is likely to be out for a fortnight due to the ankle injury that caused him to be substituted in the first half of last weekend’s 2-1 FA Trophy defeat at Kidderminster.

But Gray believes the team can cope with his absence, adding: “He might be out for a week of two but, hopefully, it won’t affect us at all, because we’re very strong in that department.

“I’m not looking to see if we need to get players in and that’s the reason why we’ve put this squad together. He went over on his ankle and it’s swollen, but it’s coming down all the time.

“He’s walking around a bit better and doesn’t need a scan, so it looks like he might be back sooner than we thought too.”

Top-scorer Jon Parkin, who turns 36 a week on Saturday, donned the armband after Newton’s withdrawal at Aggborough and is set to deputise once more against Blyth.

“He’s experienced and leads by what he does, so he’s the natural choice to take over,” Gray explained about Parkin’s suitability to the role.

At the other end of the pitch, Gray has instructed his team to beware of free-scoring Blyth’s fab front four of Daniel Maguire (13 goals, six assists this season), Dale Hopson (nine goals, seven assists), Robert Dale (four goals, eight assists) and Jarrett Rivers (three goals, eight assists).

On the challenge the fourth-placed visitors pose, Gray insisted: “I watched Blyth on Tuesday night and they have had a great start to the season. They’re probably in a position that they didn’t think they were going to be, but they’ve got goals in the team – there’s no question about that.

“The front four are very capable of winning games and they have relied on them to do that. They’re the reason why they have done so well in my opinion.

“We have to respect that and avoid giving them the space to create something. We’ve also got to be able to handle the pressure of playing at home.”