Following an impressive performance in their previous outing at Scarborough, York travelled to Rotherham, looking to pick up their first league win of the season in what turned out to be a very competitive, entertaining game played in good spirit.
On a difficult surface, York started well, matching their opponents and playing the ball around confidently. An early half chance fell to Joe Thompson but his shot was blocked. Joe Meek was on top form in the York midfield, running at Rotherham and causing them plenty of problems. In an end-to-end half, York looked organised at the back with Jack Cottam and Billy Dickinson combining well in the centre of defence. Seb Holowkiewicz and Billy Hobson, in the full back positions, looked composed and assured and worked hard to keep Rotherham’s wingers in check. A very competitive half saw Rotherham take the lead after 20 minutes. Keeper Jack Yates pulled off a good save, pushing the ball round the post. Unfortunately, York were caught off guard at the resultant corner as an unmarked Rotherham forward volleyed home, despite Yates’ best efforts. York did not let their heads drop and they continued to push forward. In midfield, Ben Whitehead started to impose himself on the game; out on the left, Adi Bajaziti got away a couple of times to play in good crosses; on the right wing, Ben Garbutt-Smith found himself in good positions but saw his shot blocked and a header go over the bar; Harry Fort hit a dipping volley that went just wide. York couldn’t find the goal their play deserved.
York went into the interval 1-0 down, but still very much in the game.
Into the second half and Rotherham began strongly. They passed the ball through midfield, looked solid at the back and were quick on the break. York’s energy seemed to dip and their opponents took advantage, scoring two quick goals to go 3-0 up. Naturally, this knocked York back and it took them some time to compose themselves and raise their game. York began to win a few 50-50s, got the ball out wide and used Cameron Wakerley and Garbutt-Smith to push Rotherham back. Unfortunately, Rotherham broke quickly and, despite a brave save from Yates, scored a fourth to put the game out of sight.
Credit to the York side. Despite this setback, they kept going. Thompson had a couple of chances, one of which hit the crossbar, Leo Littlewood saw a shot saved, Garbutt-Smith had a shot pushed out by the keeper and Ben Armitage hit a long-ranger just over the bar. Eventually, York got the goal their play deserved – Armitage putting over a cross that was controlled and finished smartly by Garbutt-Smith.
Final score : Rotherham 4-1 York
York will look back on their first half performance and know that they had the chances to take the lead and perhaps give themselves an opportunity to win the game and get their season up and running. Unfortunately, they are learning that even the smallest mistake can be punished and costly. Lots of positives to take from the game – and a few things to work on, too.
Scorer : Ben Garbutt-Smith
MOM : Joe Meek – dribbling, vision, a constant threat.