Final game of the calendar year and York ensured that they signed off for the festive period in fantastic, flowing fashion. Straight from the kick-off, the ball was rolled into the path of Seba Holowkiewicz, whose cleverly chipped ball forward caused confusion in the Leeds defence and a mix-up between defender and goalkeeper. The alert Dom Weston took advantage to pounce on the loose ball, beat the stricken keeper and slide his shot into the net to give York the lead within first twenty seconds. York were off – and they didn’t look back. Adam Nganga forced his way into the box with skill and trickery and saw his shot well saved before Rory Thornton, cutting in from the left hand side, fizzed in a shot that nestled in the top corner for his first goal for York Schools and made the score 2-0 to the away side. Ben Garbutt-Smith then beat his man in the area and saw his effort blocked on the line. York piled on the pressure, closing down their opponents with a hunger and energy that ensured that Leeds struggled to get out of their own half. Nganga soon made it three when a Billy Hobson long throw was flicked on by midfield man Billy Dickinson into Nganga, who showed neat footwork to evade his marker and slot home with his right foot.
In an impressive show of aggressive, attacking football, York continued to go forward and look for further reward. Jack Cottam showed composure and skill to bring the ball out of defence and find Garbutt-Smith with a clever pass. The winger showed his electric pace out on the right, leaving the left back for dead before floating a sublime strike over the keeper and into the top corner of the net. 4-0 to York. When Leeds did manage to put together a string of passes, York’s defensive desire saw them handle things confidently and hold the home team at bay. Keeper Jacob Bryant played a ball up to Dickinson – his flick found Ben Armitage on the run who showed great pace and skill to beat two players but his shot went narrowly wide. Holowkiewicz then found Nganga. Good footwork with left and right foot led to a cool finish into the bottom corner for 0-5 with around 15 minutes played. York made it six on the 20 minute mark when Garbutt-Smith set-up Weston for a low, left-footed strike which left the keeper with no chance. York’s seventh goal of the day arrived after some impressive hold up play from striker Enzo Nunnari. He won the ball, turned and played the ball into the path of Leo Littlewood. The midfielder tried his luck from just outside the box, his dipping strike forcing the Leeds goalie into a decent save. The alert Joe Meek followed up to calmly tuck the ball in for 0-7. Littlewood was again involved in the next goal; he cleverly turned the ball into the run of Cameron Wakerley, who showed his composure to slot the ball low and hard across the goal and into the bottom corner for a nice finish. 0-8.
Leeds, to their credit, did not drop their heads and, in patches, played some tidy passing football in the midfield areas. They tried a number of long through balls over the York defence, looking to expose the space behind. One such spell of possession led to a free kick just inside the York half. The resulting free-kick led to a rare miscommunication at the back for York and created an opening for Leeds to score. Despite a lunging attempt at a block by Garbutt-Smith, the ball ricocheted up into the air and over the stranded Bryant to make the score 1-8. Despite having such a healthy lead, York seemed stung by the breach of their defences and once more went out on the attack. A good run by Nunnari led to a York corner out on the left. Holowkiewicz’s set piece was headed home accurately by centre back Jack Cottam 1-9 and York went looking for first-half double-figures – and got it with a well-worked piece of play: Thornton flicked the ball over the head of a Leeds defender and passed to Harry Fort, who played a return pass to Thornton. He, in turn, moved the ball on to Littlewood who, once again, played in front man Wakerley who showed his killer instinct to drill home.
The referee blew his whistle to signal the end of a very entertaining and impressive half for York who went in 10-1 to the good.
The second half began a little quieter than the first but, once if got going, was still packed with incident. Nganga made a good, direct run along the right flank and cut the ball back for Fort who curled a right-footed pass into the area which found Nunnari. His spectacular, swerving strike just cleared the crossbar. Hobson put a measured pass into Wakerley, who beat two men by feinting left and then right to wrong-foot the defence before completing his hat-trick with a good finish. 1-11. Leeds were still interested and ensured that York were kept busy in all areas of the pitch. From a free kick, the ball fell invitingly into the York penalty area and keeper Bryant showed his quality when he pulled off an acrobatic, flying save to keep the ball out from just underneath his crossbar. Shortly afterwards, he was forced to block an attempt from the edge of the area. Despite his side’s dominance, he remained vigilant and was determined to keep the ball out of his net. The collective spirit and togetherness of the side was further demonstrated when, with only Bryant to beat, the Leeds centre forward looked certain to score. Unfortunately – for him and for Leeds – he hadn’t taken into account the strength, recovery and timing of centre back, Alex Gilbey, who arrived from nowhere to block and clear the ball to safety with a last-ditch tackle which received as big a cheer from the away supporters as any of his team’s goals. Despite the result no longer being in doubt, Gilbey showed a desire and willingness to put himself on the line for the sake of his team.
Eleven soon became twelve when a lovely, swirling free kick from Billy Hobson was met at the far post by Cottam as he grabbed his second of the match with another fine header. 1-12. Dickinson then found himself in a good position in the Leeds penalty area. His dribble, which allowed him to beat two men, saw him carve open a chance for himself but the Leeds keeper pulled off a good save. Nganga, himself chasing a hat-trick, then showed his composure and a cool head as he beat his marker before slotting home with his left foot for his third goal. 1-13. Number fourteen came about following a Bryant kick up field and a flick-on from the ever lively and committed Weston which left Nunnari bearing down on goal. He did not disappoint as he took his chance to lift the ball past the keeper with his left foot to make it 1-14. York’s final goal, and their fifteenth, came courtesy of a Holowkiewicz ball into Weston, who showed unerring accuracy to score and complete his hat-trick: York’s third of the match. There was time for one more chance for each side: for York, Wakerley played the ball across the goal for Weston who placed his shot just wide of the target; for Leeds, who forced Bryant to pull off a fantastic block to disappoint them once more.
The referee blew for full-time to signal a very impressive, enjoyable and deserved victory for the boys from York – and send the visiting supporters home very happy, indeed.
Final Score: Leeds 1-15 York
MOM – a performance such as this is a result of the hard work, collective team spirit, desire, enthusiasm and talent that exists within the York squad. As such, no individual MOM award this week. The boys go into the festive holiday break feeling confident and positive as they look ahead to 2022 and the resumption of the season in January.
Scorers – Weston 3, Nganga 3, Wakerly 3, Cottam 2, Thornton, Nunnari, Meek, Garbutt-Smith