SKIPPER Sean Newton still believes York City are the best team in National League North.

The eighth-placed Minstermen remain one point outside the play-off places, but Newton has also not given up hope of catching faltering leaders Salford.

City have already won 2-1 at Salford in the FA Cup this season and defeated four other top-seven sides in Brackley, Spennymoor, Blyth Spartans and Bradford Park Avenue.

The gap to Salford has been shortened to a still-sizeable 14 points following the Manchester outfit’s run of four matches without a victory – a slump that has coincided with the Minstermen’s first hat-trick of consecutive wins since April 2014.

Back then, Nigel Worthington’s team secured a play-off spot, despite sitting third-bottom in the Football League midway through the campaign.

Newton is now targeting a similar charge, with fellow promotion hopefuls Bradford and Spennymoor visiting Bootham Crescent on consecutive weekends, either side of a midweek trip to Telford, while a crucial January will then be concluded at ninth-placed Stockport. “We all know that we are the best team in this league,” the 29-year-old midfielder declared. “We’ve just been a bit inconsistent.

“Now, it’s all about keeping the consistency going and making sure that, whoever comes into the team, knows their jobs, so we can keep picking up wins. We’ve hit form at the right time now.

“Fans don’t want to hear that, because they want you to be in form all season, but there’s always a team that goes on a run from January onwards and, hopefully, that will be us. It’s a great month for us playing a lot of teams in and around the play-offs, like Bradford, Spennymoor and Stockport, which gives us a great incentive to keep our winning run going.

“Two of those games are at home and Salford are slipping up now so, if we put together five or six wins, anything can happen. You could be near the top the way this league is.”

Newton scored the fourth goal of August’s 5-0 romp against Park Avenue, who visit Bootham Crescent for the return fixture this weekend.

But the ex-England C international is not anticipating a similar contest on Saturday, reasoning: “They wouldn’t be where they are in the league if they were the same side.”

The 6ft Liverpudlian also reckons City’s three consecutive triumphs have importantly won back the support of the club’s fans, which was wavering prior to Christmas following the 3-2 home reverse against Blyth.

Newton now feels such club unity could be crucial during the remaining 18 games of the regular campaign.

“Our fans are brilliant and, as a club, we are some force when we come together as a whole,” he pointed out. “We’ve got to keep that togetherness and I’m sure we will then move up the league.”

Newton went on to agree with sporting director Dave Penney’s post-match statement that Saturday’s 2-1 win at Martin Gray’s former club Darlington offered the most compelling signs that the team are beginning to understand their manager’s methods and that the margin of victory should have been greater.

“The gaffer has been working so hard with us and I think we’re starting to see what he wants on the pitch now,” Newton pointed out. “All the lads know their jobs and have bought into it.

“The pitch wasn’t the best at Darlington and it was a tough place to go, but I thought we were unlucky to be 1-0 down at half-time, because I felt we had played the conditions and opposition well. The gaffer then said he wanted a reaction from us in the second half.

“He didn’t want us to go missing or hide and, as a team, I think we showed character and could have had four or five more goals had we been more clinical, because we created some great chances on the break with the pace we have got.

It was still good to see us creating so many chances though and James Gray was unlucky not to score late on. He probably connected with his volley too well and, if he hadn’t, it might have bobbled in.”