York travelled to Sheffield for a friendly fixture, looking to build some momentum on the back of the previous week’s victory over Leeds.
The visitors started brightly with lots of energy and intent. As a result, much of the opening exchanges took part in the Sheffield half of the pitch. However, despite their desire and commitment, York’s passing wasn’t quite as sharp and accurate as it might have been and a number of attacks broke down in and around the final third. Sheffield, on the other hand, made the most of the beautiful playing surface, playing in and around the York midfield with their slick, quick one and two touch football. York’s defence had to be on their guard to minimise Sheffield’s chances. Jack Cottam combined well with his centre back partner, Ben Garbutt-Smith, to maintain a high line when necessary in order to play an offside trap that Sheffield struggled to deal with.
As the half wore on, Sheffield created several decent chances but Billy Hobson’s resolute defending, Freddie Moore’s awareness and strength and keeper Jacob Bryant’s alertness and positioning ensured that they came to nothing. At the other end, Dominic Weston tried his luck from range on more than one occasion but found the Sheffield keeper in good form. Frontman Enzo Nunnari worked hard up front, making good runs in behind the Sheffield defence, but his chances on goal were limited and he lacked the necessary support from his team-mates. Billy Dickinson looked to drive York forward with his strong tackling and smart use of the ball, and Jack Brown made several determined runs down the left flank. York seemed to be missing their usual spark. Nunnari tried to take matters into his own hands towards the end of the half when he picked the ball up and showed strength and skill to beat three players. Unfortunately, the Sheffield defence recovered sufficiently to crowd him out before he could find space to get a shot at goal.
Half time – Sheffield 0-0 York
Second half and a change of formation allowed York to push an extra man into a more advanced position. As a result, they were able to retain possession further up the pitch and pose a greater threat. This paid off when Seb Holowkiewicz, finding time and space in front of the Sheffield back four, controlled nicely and played in Ben Armitage. His first time, low drive from outside the penalty area arrowed into the bottom corner broke the deadlock to give York a 1-0 lead. In what developed into an entertaining end-to-end game, Sheffield continued to play some very tidy football from the back which, at times, York struggled to deal with. With York having switched to a back three, it was always likely that Sheffield would find an opening. Bryant showed a cool head and bravery to block well when faced with a one-one-one, Garbutt-Smith demonstrated his pace and reading of the game on a number of occasions and Cottam and Hobson showed their experience and know-how to handle the host’s mobile and tricky forward line. Just in front of these three, Leo Littlewood covered a great deal of ground, got amongst the opposition midfield to disrupt their passing game and won a number of important tackles to wrestle possession away from Sheffield.
On the hour mark, Weston scored York’s second after a mazy dribble and cool finish. 0-2. Shortly afterwards, he grabbed his second – and his team’s third – with another piece of individual skill when beating a cluster of defenders before rocketing the ball into the net. Despite Sheffield still enjoying their fair share of possession at this stage, York seemed to enjoy themselves and continued to create chances. Holowkiewicz had a shot saved before a chipped cross from Brown was flicked on by Nunnari and struck sweetly, but across the face of the goal, by Harry Fort. With the tackles continuing to fly in and the clock ticking down, there was time for the moment of the match: picking up the ball in his own half after York had dealt with a Sheffield attack, Weston set off on an amazing run down the left. He beat the first man with skill and strength, the second with a side-step and control and avoided the lunging full back by hurdling a crude attempt to take his legs from beneath him. Advancing his way at speed into the penalty area, he had the composure to pick out Nunnari who finished calmly to claim a well-deserved goal and put the seal on a 4-0 victory.
Final Score: Sheffield 0-4 York
MOM – Dominic Weston : a brilliant performance of skill, power and pace that took the game away from Sheffield.