AIDAN Connolly has welcomed York City manager Martin Gray’s plans to bolster the team’s forward options.

The Scottish attacker grabbed his fourth goal of the season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Tamworth.

He has also provided six assists for the team in 20 outings, but admitted that the expected return of Alex Pattison on loan from Middlesbrough tomorrow, along with other possible striking reinforcements in the offing, keeps everybody on their toes.

“You always want competition in a squad and the manager wants more,” Connolly reasoned. “It means you need to lift your game even more when you are in the team.

“Alex Pattison did well the last time he was here so, hopefully, he can do the same again.”

With right-winger Connor Smith also impressing in Staffordshire during only his second start since a summer switch from Hartlepool, Connolly went on to suggest that Gray might have several selection headaches ahead of Saturday’s home match against National League North table-toppers Salford.

“I thought Connor did really well and was one of our better players,” the Dundee-born, 22-year-old declared. “It’s been very difficult for him and he came in during a difficult time as Parky (Jon Parkin) has scored lots of goals for us, so I’m sure he will be back in next week, but Connor did very well and deserves to keep his place.”

Salford go into this weekend’s match 15 points clear of their hosts, having played one game fewer.

But the Minstermen have already beaten the Greater Manchester outfit 2-1 at their Peninsula Stadium home in the FA Cup this term, while only losing by the odd goal in five during the league encounter at the same venue in October.

Connolly scored in the second contest and is confident of a positive outcome against the title favourites, insisting: “I think we can beat them.

“They’re top of the league but, on our day, man for man, we are just as strong as most teams in this league. The manager says to us all the time that it’s up to ourselves because, if we play every game with the right attitude, we should win most matches in this league and Salford will come to us knowing that, if we are on it, we can beat them.”

Having seen the side toss away the chance of maximum points at Tamworth, though, two minutes after he was replaced by Louis Almond, Connolly confessed that City cannot afford to surrender many more late leads if they are to fulfil their own promotion ambitions with 13 fixtures left to play.

“It’s gutting for the boys that we conceded in the last five minutes and we’ve got to stop that somehow because, if you want to push on for promotion, you need to hold on for wins,” the ex-Dundee United winger admitted. “I thought the first half was even, but we controlled most of the second half.

“Once we scored, though, we stepped off a little, stopped playing and started to drop deeper. They then got back into it and their boy scored a good goal to make it 1-1.”

Connolly had earlier fired the visitors in front from 25 yards and, commenting on his fourth goal of the campaign, he said: “I had my back to goal with a man on me and, after I pulled away from him, space opened up, so I just thought ‘hit it’.

“The keeper could have done better, but the ball moved a little bit and, luckily, it went in.”

With the prospect of a play-off clash on North Yorkshire neighbours Harrogate Town’s 3G pitch a possibility in May, Connolly added, meanwhile, that he was encouraged by City’s performance on Tamworth’s artificial surface.

“Sometimes, it’s hard for taller players to turn and twist, but I thought we did OK,” he ventured.