York hosted close neighbours Harrogate in the ESFA Cup and booked themselves a place in the 3rd round with a convincing and well-deserved victory.
Having not played a fixture for four weeks, York could have been forgiven for being a bit rusty, but they started the game quickly, showing their intentions right from the kick off. They were strong in the tackle, getting tight to their opponents when not in possession and moving the ball around confidently to take the game to Harrogate. The game was only 5 minutes old when York took the lead – a Joe Meek shot from outside the area clipping the post and nestling nicely into the net. 1-0.
York kept up the pressure and momentum. Cameron Wakerley looked lively on the left, Ben Garbutt-Smith was direct and dangerous out on the right and Lleyton Brown, making his debut up front, always posed a threat for the home team. Garbutt-Smith and Brown both forced the Harrogate keeper into good saves before Meek scored his – and his side’s second goal with a fierce strike into the top corner from the edge of the box. 2-0. Although York continued to enjoy a great deal of possession, Harrogate were a danger on the break but found that Jack Cottam, Jack Redman, Billy Hobson and Seb Holowkiewicz were organised, strong and composed at the back for the home team, working well as a unit to keep a clean sheet.
Ben Armitage, playing just in front of the back four, worked hard to protect the defence and kept things simple and tidy to maintain possession. Goalkeeper Jacob Bryant was called into action when making a double save, grabbing the ball bravely following a Harrogate free kick. Halfway through the first period, York thought they had extended their lead. A long range, dipping free kick from Holowkiewicz was saved and the rebound tucked away by Brown, only for the referee to disallow the goal for offside.
Their positive, attacking play was rewarded moments later – Garbutt-Smith beating the full back and clipping a cross-shot just inside the far post to make it 3-0. Joe Thompson then fired in to make it 4-0 and the same player made it 5-0 with a cool, first time finish past the onrushing keeper after clever build up play from Leo Littlewood and Armitage. Just before half time, Harrogate pulled one back as York let their concentration slip and conceded following lack of communication at a corner.
5-1 to York at half time.
York came out for the second half determined to add to their tally and play at the same tempo they had enjoyed in the first half. Wakerley created an opening for himself, beating two men to fire just wide, Adi Bajaziti looked tricky and skilful out on the left, Harry Fort hit a left footer from the edge of the box to force a save from the keeper and Ben Whitehead struck the post with a decent effort. At the other end, Bryant blocked bravely before acrobatically tipping a long range shot over the bar and Billy Dickinson showed his quality and reading of the game in the deep midfield role. York grabbed a sixth on the 50 minute mark. Brown, picking up the ball on the half way line, set off on a wonderful, mazy run which saw him dribble through the Harrogate midfield and defence before calmly clipping the ball into the corner of the net. 6-1.
Ten minutes from time, York made it seven. An Armitage free kick from the right found Thompson, who completed his hat trick with a crisp finish. Late on, Thompson teed up Whitehead, who shot just over.
Final whistle and York progress to the next round with a 7-1, confidence-boosting, victory.
MOM: Ben Armitage – strong in the tackle, kept things simple, a selfless performance to help see his team through to an important win.