York visited previously undefeated Sheffield, looking to get back to winning ways following the defeat last time out in the ESFA Cup.
A beautiful pitch surface and good playing conditions made for an excellent, open, attacking game with both sides up for it. York started the brightest, Adi Bajaziti skilfully beating his full back and firing in a cross from the left that the Sheffield defence did well to clear. The ball broke to Ben Whitehead who picked a clever pass to put Bajaziti again in behind the defence. His ball in was helped on by Ben Garbutt-Smith to Lleyton Brown who managed to control and chip the ball into the corner of the net to give his side a 1-0 lead. Shortly afterwards it looked as though Brown had doubled York’s lead – but after arching his body to meet a cross, his looping header struck the crossbar. York fancied it and they maintained the pressure. On the fifteen minute mark, Garbutt-Smith created the opportunity for York’s second goal. After beating 3 three def3nders with his pace and power, his whipped cross was met acrobatically by Joe Meek for a right foot volley that left the Sheffield keeper with no chance. 2-0 to York and Sheffield were stung into action. York suddenly found themselves under pressure and had to defend well as Sheffield attacked and forced a number of corners. They reduced the arrears when a swerving, dipping shot from the left found the top corner and on the 25 minute mark equalised when they reacted quickest to a shot that rebounded off the bar and tapped home for 2-2. At this point, Sheffield were on top and showing their quality. However, York showed their mental toughness and and resilience to hit back at their hosts. Brown struck the woodwork again and Harry Fort, picking up a loose ball in the middle of the Sheffield half, tried to catch out the keeper by firing in a long range dipping shot that went just wide of the target. After half an hour, they went back in front, Garbutt-Smith controlling the ball and firing in a neat, low, right footed strike from outside the box to make it 3-2. York soaked up late first half pressure to go in to the half time break with a one goal advantage.
Second half and it was more of the same. Sheffield looked confident, putting together a number of good moves. York dug in and defended, blocked and tackled with strength and purpose. The back four of Seb Holowkiewicz, Ben Armitage, Jack Cottam and Billy Hobson were controlled, compact and resolute against a mobile, skilful Sheffield attack. Cottam looked strong and confident, Hobson showed his good reading of the game to cover and sweep up, Armitage (who likes a tackle) made a number of good blocks and interceptions and Holowkiewicz organised those around him, sticking tight to the tricky left winger and starting a number of moves for his team. In the midfield areas, Billy Dickinson once again showed his tenacity and good positional sense to cover the ground and protect the back four, Leo Littlewood scrapped, closed down, won headers and helped keep possession with his tidy passing, Bajaziti showed his willingness to go forward at pace on the attack but also work back to help out his fullback. In an end-to-end half, York took the chance to extend their lead through Brown. He showed his class by dribbling though the centre of the Sheffield defence, committing the keeper and finishing coolly with his right foot into the bottom corner. Despite the threat of Sheffield, a determined, positive York looked to take the game further away from their opponents : Whitehead hit a lovely volley from outside the box which crashed back down off the bar with the keeper beaten; Brown beat the defence again, this time clipping the ball against the crossbar; Meek dribbled through but his effort was blocked; Dickinson tried to take advantage of a mix up in the Sheffield defence but saw his shot scrambled to safety.
Despite these chances, Sheffield were always dangerous and put together a number of good moves of their own. York keeper Jack Yates showed his awareness to leave his area and clear up a couple of attacks and made a number of impressive full length saves throughout the half to help maintain his side’s lead. His astute kicking set up a number of attacks in what was a very solid, assured performance from the shot-stopper. With around 10 minutes remaining, Sheffield scored from a free kick to make the remainder of the game a hard-fought, tense affair. York showed their togetherness, focus and growing maturity to see things out, despite being put under a good deal of pressure. Final whistle and a 4-3 win for York.
York will feel that they were good value for their win as they continue their recent run of good form in what is proving to be a very tough league. They scored four good quality goals and, despite a strong, talented Sheffield team enjoying its fair share of possession, York came close on a number of occasions to adding to their tally when they struck the woodwork four times. Despite missing a number of key players, they put in a confident, positive, hard working performance to inflict Sheffield’s first league defeat of the season.
Scorers : Brown (2), Meek, Garbutt-Smith