York’s final game of the season saw them play Leeds in a League Title decider. Leeds went in to the game on top of the league as they had only dropped 3 points all season, in a defeat to Barnsley, whereas York had dropped 4 points as a result of draws against Sheffield and East Riding. York had recently won the Michael Dale Trophy, a Trophy dating back to 1981, which had only previously been won by York in 2009, so were looking to complete a League and Cup double for York for the first time ever.
York’s usual home ground at the University of York was unavailable for this game, as the pitches were being used for car parking for an U16s Golf Championship at the neighbouring Fulford Golf Club. The team were therefore very thankful to York City FC, who allowed the game to be staged at their Wigginton Road Training Ground.
Leeds started the game very brightly, as they took advantage of the big pitch and good playing surface to pass the ball with a lot of confidence. York however gradually began to take charge of the opening stages and dominate possession and territory. York scored the opening goal after 10 minutes, when Leeds cleared the ball and it fell to Adam Clarkson 30 yards from goal. Adam showed great control to surge past the opposing midfielders and then from over 20 yards hit a powerful right footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net. It was a tremendous individual goal in a game of this magnitude and looked to have set York on their way.
York continued to push forward looking for a second goal. They won a succession of corners that Ben Myers swung in to great effect and from one such corner, the Leeds goalkeeper just about managed to tip it away as multiple York players were running in at the back post expecting to turn the ball in.
It was however just on the stroke of half-time when Leeds hit back with an equaliser. York hit a long free kick towards the Leeds penalty area, but Leeds cleared the ball and broke quickly out of defence. The Leeds striker played a series of one-twos with the Leeds left-midfielder and then slipped in Leeds’ right winger who showed great composure to slot the ball in to the net.
Leeds came out after the break and it was now their turn to dominate, playing some very good quick pass and move football. They were soon 2-1 ahead when a shot from the right was parried by York goalkeeper, Henry Jackson, but it fell to a Leeds player, who made no mistake with his finish to put his team ahead.
Leeds were now on top and York were hanging on in defence, in a spell in the game which could have seen Leeds wrap the game up. With 15 minutes to go, Leeds did go 3-1 up. A ball was played out of defence into the feet of their centre forward, who showed a great touch to play in his supporting midfielders. They then played a quick one-two to get past the York back line and again the ball was slotted in with a composed finish.
York now had nothing to lose and began to push extra players forward in the hope of getting back into the game. With 10 minutes to go, Dylan Jones found Ronnie Kelly down the right. Ronnie beat his marker and raced towards the by-line where he cut the ball back perfectly into the path of Liam Mainprize who was arriving into the box at pace. As we’ve seen so often throughout the course of the season, Liam doesn’t pass up chances like this at key stages in a game and he smashed the ball into the right hand corner of the net to make the score York 2 Leeds 3.
Leeds now began to drop deep to protect their lead, but York were now resurgent. With 4 minutes to go Reuben Pugh and Ryan Evans combined down the left, for Ryan to cross into the box. Leeds partially cleared it, but it fell to Adam Clarkson, just inside the box. Adam’s shot deflected off a defender and into the far corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance. Scores level!!
Virtually straight from the kick off York won the ball back in search of an all-important winning goal and Liam Mainprize played a through ball for Ronnie Kelly to run on to. Ronnie was a fraction away from nicking the ball past the on-rushing keeper and into an empty net, but the Leeds goalkeeper was first to the ball and cleared the danger.
With 2 minutes left, York won a free kick 30 yards out from goal. Paul Iggulden stepped up to take it and his shot hit the crossbar. Leeds hooked the ball clear, but Paul headed it back into the box where it fell to Adam Clarkson, 8 yards out from goal. Adam didn’t hesitate in controlling the ball and firing it past the Leeds keeper for what appeared to be a winning goal. All eyes were now on the referee who looked along the line and appeared to be mentally tossing a coin as to his decision. Unfortunately for York, the referee disallowed the goal for offside, which was probably the correct decision.
There was now very little time for any further excitement in what had been an excellent pulsating game of football. The 3-3 draw gave Leeds the League Title and congratulations must go to them, as they showed in this game with their quick passing football, that they were worthy Champions.
York could take some consolation from the great character they showed in coming back from 3-1 down to preserved their 31 match unbeaten run over two seasons in League, Cups and friendlies which rounded off another excellent and entertaining season.
Man of the Match – Adam Clarkson
Adam got two goals in this game, but his performance merited a hat-trick that he so nearly got, but for the off-side decision. As he has shown during the season, Adam is good in possession and he’s always a danger in an around the opposition penalty area.