1 Raul Correia must start delivering in front of goal to avoid the same fate as Amari Morgan-Smith

The on-loan Blackpool forward was handed a big responsibility when, in 25-goal talisman Jon Parkin’s absence, he was asked to lead the line at Tamworth. But the Portugal-born striker could not make his presence felt in the home box and, like his eventual replacement James Gray, his record in front of goal is now coming under close scrutiny.

Correia has only managed to net once in five matches – an open goal at Telford - since his arrival from Bloomfield Road, which is the same ratio that Amari Morgan-Smith had mustered in City colours before behind told such a strike-rate made him surplus to requirements at Bootham Crescent, after Martin Gray sanctioned a move to Telford last week. For the second successive game, Correia failed to net when the ball dropped to him in the six-yard box and he made way for Gray – without a goal in 14 games following his October move from Torquay – before the second half’s midway point.

City chief Gray’s post-match comments on forwards needing to emulate the predatory desire of Liverpool legend Ian Rush in his 1980s pomp were telling and, with the ex-Darlington chief signalling his intention to strengthen in that area of the pitch, Correia and Gray must quickly demonstrate their marksmanship potential to avoid following Morgan-Smith out of the Bootham Crescent exit door.

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2 Aidan Connolly has emerged as the team’s biggest match-winner after Jon Parkin

With two goals and three assists in his last five outings, the skilful Scotsman is providing consistent attacking inspiration for the Minstermen and his willingness to try his luck from just outside the penalty box reaped dividends at Tamworth, where he opened the scoring on 73 minutes. Connolly has scored or directly teed up a goal in four of his last five appearances and, even in the other contest, he won the free kick that saw Josh Law hit both posts before Jonny Burn tapped in at Telford.

With an overall total of six assists and four goals, only Jon Parkin (25 goals, three assists) and Sean Newton (eight assists, seven goals) have had more of an impact in the final third for City this season, although they have featured in 28 and 30 games respectively, compared to Connolly’s 20. Along with this fixture, the former Dundee United attacker’s importance to the side was witnessed just as much in the previous weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Stockport, which he missed through illness as his team-mates failed to make the scoresheet ==for the first time since September.

Connolly’s contributions currently make him the most reliable candidate to share the team’s match-winning responsibility with Parkin.

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3 Connor Smith did his hopes for further first-team opportunities no harm at all

Having only made one previous start since his summer switch from Hartlepool – during the disappointing 2-0 defeat at Chorley back in September – Smith might have been forgiven for wondering whether his days at Bootham Crescent were numbered, having also been farmed out on loan to Whitby by Gray this season. But, with Parkin unavailable, Morgan-Smith departed and Alex Pattison yet to rejoin the club, the 21-year-old attacker was given a surprise recall in Staffordshire.

Having waited so long for a second City start and in the knowledge that attacking reinforcements are on the horizon, the pressure was on Smith to deliver a strong performance and he responded well. Starting on the front foot, he was responsible for the first yellow card of the game when he was wrestled to the ground by home defender Joel Kettle as he threatened to burst through on goal.

Smith also forced Jack Stevens into his first save of the match and provided crosses that troubled the Tamworth defence, only for the resulting chances to go begging due to a lack of anticipation from others in City colours. With Pattison on his way back, Smith might find it difficult to hold on to his first XI shirt, but his performance will have encouraged manager Gray, with his old-fashioned wing play offering a different attacking dimension to a midfield that has been more narrow in its outlook during the ex-Darlington chief’s regime.

Even if Smith does drop out of the starting line-up against Salford this weekend, his display will have, no doubt, seen him jump ahead of others in the pecking order for substitute consideration, given his impact potential and scope for providing tactical change. His fitness levels also looked good despite his lack of game action.

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4 City’s standard of defending at set-pieces must be better given their on-pitch experience

Nine of the Minstermen’s outfield players were summoned back to combat Rhys Sharpe’s 89th-minute long throw-in, but a lack of organisation and awareness saw Darryl Knights left alone lurking just inside the penalty box. That is difficult to understand given that the likes of seasoned professionals Adam Bartlett, Hamza Bencherif, Simon Heslop, Adriano Moke, Sean Newton and Dan Parslow were all on hand to identify his presence.

Despite the undoubted quality of Knights’ subsequent strike, he was the only home player left unattended and it would not have been possible had he been assigned with a marker, leaving City two more points to the good.

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5 Late goals continue to dog the Minstermen’s progress

City’s morale-sapping tendency to concede in the final throes of fixtures has now cost the team seven points this term, including three against Tamworth alone, as Knights followed up his 90th-minute October winner in North Yorkshire with an equaliser only moments earlier in Saturday’s return fixture. His latest goal was the 13th the Minstermen have shipped in the final quarter-hour period of matches (76-90 minutes) this term, compared to just the two that have been let in during the opening 15 minutes of contests.

A stoppage-time winner was also responsible for South Shields progressing at City’s expense in the FA Cup, whilst the other points that have been lost in the closing exchanges came against Leamington and Spennymoor, when late leads were also surrendered. With the points that have gone begging, City would now be three behind second-placed neighbours Harrogate Town, instead of ten, with the two sides still to meet at Bootham Crescent in April.