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York football seconds defeated on opening day

York men's football seconds began life in Division Four with a 3-1 defeat against Durham seconds at home on Wednesday

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BUCS Northern Conference 4B

Image: Alex Byron
Image: Alex Byron

York men's football seconds began life in Division Four with a defeat on home soil, as they were beaten by an organised and composed Durham seconds side on Wednesday afternoon. The Black & Gold had plenty of determination and spirit in their play, but lacked the coherence of their North Eastern rivals. Tom Shelbourn netted for the home side, but three goals from the visitors left York tasting defeat.

In what was York's first game since promotion from Division Five last season, there was plenty of pre-match optimism that it could be yet another good year for the side, but the opening exchanges were scrappy, with both sides struggling to get a grip on the game at a characteristically blustery 3G.

The first action of note in proceedings came when Harry O'Brien pumped a good ball in to the front post; Durham quickly cleared and broke on the counter at speed, rapidly finding themselves set-up well inside the York area. However, none of their forwards could get a shot away and the danger was cleared.

Moments later, Charlie Dunning delivered a delightful cross in aiming for Leo Smithson's head, but the York forward couldn't direct the ball on target. This seemed to spur the North East side into action, as they subsequently began to take control of the game. After another rapid counter-attack, only Oli Bull's perfectly-timed last ditch tackle prevented them from being through one-on-one with York keeper, Max Donnell-Ford.

York were inviting pressure onto themselves and struggling to keep possession in the opening exchanges. Tom Shelbourn headed away the first of a string of Durham corners, but for all their pressing, the opposition couldn't find an opener.

Andy Naylor then had York's best chance of the game, as he latched onto O'Brien's pass. However, his shot comfortably cleared the Durham bar. The home side were not playing poorly, but were struggling to get the ball on the ground and pass as they have done so well in the past. Had they been able to maximise the width of what is a large pitch at the 3G, they would have had a much greater foothold in the game in the first half.

Nevertheless, following another wave of Durham attacks, James Edwards was beaten on the left wing; Donnell-Ford stayed on his line and found himself stranded in no-man's land. The opposition forward capitalised and slotted in to make it 1-0.

York seemed rattled by falling behind, and Durham almost doubled their lead quickly afterwards as Durham broke, but a good clearance from captain, Mark Askham averted the danger.

Fortunately, the Black & Gold weren't behind for too long; after settling down and opting for simple passing which allowed them to keep the ball, O'Brien delivered in a superb ball which Shelbourn latched onto and finished with aplomb to level the scores.

Bull then pumped a ball long up to Dunning on the right, and his cross into the area was good, but no-one was there to capitalise for York. As the half-time whistle came, the home side were in the ascendancy having enjoyed their best period of the match.

As Tom Jobling replaced O'Brien at half-time with the latter carrying a knock, York almost found themselves behind again in the opening stages of the second stages with Donnell-Ford beaten. However, the break in play seemed to have done the Black & Gold some good; early on, they were passing the ball around with much greater fluidity and attacking the channels well.

However, despite turning the screw and earning a couple of corners, the final ball wasn't quite there for York. Durham took advantage of this and following some clinical play down the left, their striker found himself in the area with the ball, facing an open net. Somehow, he managed to miss when it seemed easier to score.

York were still playing a positive, attacking game despite looking slightly fractured, and Smithson was almost through on goal at one stage, but the keeper got there first.

Durham's second goal came from a corner; following a good delivery in to the back post, it was a Durham head that rose above the rest to slot home and hand them the lead once again. This gave them the momentum they needed, and they once again took command of the game.

One opportunity came for York when Askham delivered in a powerful long-range free kick following a foul on substitute Jules Delay. However, Durham were organised at the back and got the ball away. Another good move broke down after some excellent footwork from Elliot Testor down the right, and York were made to rue this when Durham killed the game with a third moments later.

The Durham forward found himself in acres of space inside the area, and had time to pick out a team-mate who slotted past Ford to wrap up the points.

York had another mini-resurgence in the final five minutes, spraying the ball out well left and right from the back, but they were unable to find a consolation goal. It was by no means a poor performance from the Black & Gold, but it was clear that this team requires longer to gel; their opponents were more organised and composed on the day, which ultimately made the difference.

There is, however, no need to panic. There are some very good players throughout the York side, and once they have had more game-time, they will be well capable of picking up victories during this campaign.

York: Donnell-Ford, Edwards, Bull, Shelbourn (Testor), Askham, Collins, O'Brien (Jobling), Naylor, Garn (Delay), Dunning, Smithson.

Man of the Match: Oli Bull

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