1 Martin Gray’s City are capable of coming back from behind and winning a game

The opening goal in each of Gray’s 14 matches in charge of the Minstermen has generally been telling and set the tone for the rest of the match. Of the eight games in which City have scored first under the former Sunderland midfielder, six have ended in victory, one was drawn and only one – the 2-1 loss at Boston – saw the team succumb to defeat.

Likewise, when the Gray-led side had fallen behind first prior to Saturday’s trip to Blackwell Meadows, four matches had subsequently seen the opposition go on to secure victory and one fixture had been drawn. With Reece Styche’s 43rd-minute strike for the hosts coming at the supposedly, psychologically-sapping stage of a match – just before half-time – the potential for that pattern to persist seemed strong in such a hostile arena.

But City displayed a spirt and character that their manager has been keen to instil since his switch from County Durham to North Yorkshire, hitting back and turning the tables with two swift strikes – the first less than a minute into the restart. Such strength in the face of adversity will now be vital as the Minstermen look to make their presence felt in the play-off standings again.

York Press:

2 Jon Parkin’s reliability from the spot is proving crucial

The 24-goal veteran has a 100 per cent conversion success rate from his seven penalties this season and he made no mistake to settle another finely-balanced contest in his side’s favour. Parkin’s penalties have now earned his team six points, with his 12-yard efforts against Spennymoor and Alfreton also meaning the difference between victories and a share of the spoils.

Coalville Town would have earned an FA Trophy replay too, but for Parkin’s spot-kick prowess in the third qualifying round of that competition. Twice, Parkin has even despatched a brace of penalties – against Coalville and Spennymoor.

Whilst he might have a preference for one side, the Barnsley-born behemoth also demonstrated an ability to switch tact in those matches and is keeping goalkeepers guessing with some struck high, others low and a couple more driven down the middle. All penalty takers need a strong nerve, which Parkin clearly possesses as illustrated by his response to one Twitter troll at the weekend, when he insisted pressure was only useful for car tyres and blow-up dolls.

Technique is clearly equally as important and Parkin has that in abundance, which was witnessed when he produced yet another first-time finish to sweep home an Aidan Connolly cross, only to be flagged off side. Connolly later won his team’s 51st-minute penalty and, with the likes of Alex Pattison and Amari Morgan-Smith making regular darting runs into the box too, the prospect of winning more spot kicks for Parkin to increase his tally is evident.

York Press:

3 The rest of the side still lack ruthlessness

While Parkin continues to lead by example in front of goal, it is still of paramount importance that others follow suit. Given the number of times the Minstermen had free shots on James Talbot’s goal at Darlington, the team should not have had to rely on a deflected strike and penalty to secure a narrow 2-1 triumph.

Darlington, despite many of their opportunities being less presentable, still managed a total of 13 shots – the same amount as the visitors. On another day, one might have found its way past Adam Bartlett and two important points could have been dropped.

York Press: MIDFIELD MENTOR: Adriano Moke is hoping to establish himself as a role model at York City for the club’s promising youngsters, including St Kitts & Nevis international and former Cardiff reserve Theo Wharton, who has been filling the former’s midfield

4 The search for a midfield anchorman is not yet over

With Sean McAllister dropping to the bench as his loan spell from Grimsby came to an end, it appears Gray is still looking for the appropriate player to act as an effective defensive shield in front of his back four. Gray plumped for Adriano Moke in the position against his old club, with David Syers renowned for forward charges that he felt the former Glenn Hoddle Academy graduate would be best equipped to track.

It is true Moke gives any manager flexibility with his unusual propensity to operate either as a central-midfielder or a winger but, defensively, he is perhaps not the man for Gray to fill that role going forward. Daniel Rowe has been tried there and was brought on in the second half at Blackwell Meadows with the intention of shoring up matters.

But, instead, Darlington began to find pockets of space in that area of the pitch, winning a number of free kicks – one of which earned Rowe his fourth booking in six games following a trip after being caught the wrong side of his opponent. If Jonny Burn is to continue being preferred at centre back, then Dan Parslow would be a worthwhile contender for the responsibility.

With sporting director Dave Penney signalling an intention to recruit further additions to the squad, though, the surprise sight of midfielder Phil Turnbull on the home bench could represent interesting timing, given that he barely missed a match for Gray in more than two seasons with the Quakers, anchoring in front of a back four.

York Press:

5 Darlington v York should not be a National League North fixture

With 2,500 packed into Darlington’s current modest abode, this fixture, even disregarding the added attraction of Gray’s return to County Durham, hammered home the potential that remains at both clubs, given their fan bases. The crowd size was bigger than the average of five clubs - Stevenage (2,437), Crawley (2,072), Barnet (2,054), Accrington (1,662) and Morecambe (1,456) – operating in the Football League this term.

But Darlington’s demise even puts City’s harrowing recent struggles into a little perspective with the latter, obviously, currently much better placed as a club to get back where they belong.