YORK City boss Sam Collins praised his team’s penalty-box defending in a narrow 1-0 FA Cup victory at Blyth Spartans.
Jordan Burrow’s 11th-minute goal proved enough to send the Minstermen into Monday night’s first round proper draw and, even though he also had another chance cleared off the line and Sean Newton had a second-half penalty saved, the visitors had to fight a determined rearguard action to keep their seventh clean sheet of the season.
Three of those shut-outs have come in the Cup, with City still to concede in this term’s tournament and, having already collected £49,000 in prize money from the competition, a delighted Collins said: “It’s fantastic for the club and I’m so pleased with the players’ attitudes, because they all worked really hard.
“We played better with the ball than we did at Southport, especially in the first half, but we still had to weather the storm as well, with Russ Penn putting two or three good blocks in, as Hamza (Bencherif) did when he came on and the way we defended our box was excellent. We stuck it and we’ve got a bit of momentum going now and, even if we haven’t played brilliantly, results breed confidence.”
City have now completed a hat-trick of consecutive victories for the first time since January, while Burrow has netted six times in as many outings with Collins also noticing a shift in his self-belief.
“It was really good play for the goal and Jordan Burrow is playing so well,” the City chief enthused. “He kept his run of scoring going and he’s gone from looking low on confidence to looking a proper player and that’s what centre forwards are like.
“They thrive on scoring and you can see the difference in him. He’s enjoying training more and, while strikers are selfish at times and just think about goals, his work-rate and attitude is brilliant in terms of closing down full backs.”
Collins was in no mood either to criticise Newton for failing to score from the spot, after converting with his last 12-yard effort in the 4-2 triumph over Guiseley, reasoning: “Sean took the last one and scored, so it would have been hard to take the ball off him for this one and we know he has really good quality with his left foot.
“It was just one of those things and one of those days when it was never going to be easy, but he stood up and took it and I want people to be brave and take responsibility. He also never put his head down afterwards.”
Having switched from 3-5-2 to 4-3-1-2 to secure a 2-1 victory at Southport seven days earlier, Collins started with the latter system and reverted to the former in this contest and explained: “We changed formation again, because I thought we could hit them on the counter-attack and I also wanted somebody to get tighter on Robbie Dale, because he was causing us problems.
“I was happy to sacrifice one of our threats down that side, because I knew we had good energy up the pitch anyway and Sean (Newton) did a really good job on Robbie Dale, as did Kallum Griffiths when he swapped wings and I thought Kallum was outstanding throughout the game.”
The cup draw will be televised on BBC2 at 7pm with £36,000 the prize for first-round winners and, when asked who he would like to meet, Collins said: “I want to keep the run going for as long as we can, so maybe it would be nice to get a so-called lesser club where we think we’ve got a good chance of progressing and bringing more money in.
“Equally, it would be good to play in front of 25,000 at Sunderland and that would bring some money in as well.”