After a number of postponed league fixtures, York hosted Calderdale with both teams putting their unbeaten record on the line. York started on fire. Dom Weston beat the right back and burst into the area in the first minute, putting in a low cross which was cleared to safety. The same player then created a chance for himself, putting his clipped shot just wide. Calderdale struggled to cope with York’s pace and movement as the home team pinned them back. Ben Garbutt-Smith looked sharp out on the right, beating the left back and firing a low ball across the face of the Calderdale goal. However, no goal resulted and the scores remained level. York looked to be in danger of not taking advantage of their superior first half play when striker Cameron Wakerley held up the ball, twisted and turned in the opposition penalty area and drew a foul from the defender. The referee blew for a penalty, which was tucked away confidently and sweetly by Seba Holowkiewicz. 1-0 to York and well deserved. Surely, there was more to come.
Unfortunately, York seemed to sit off after they’d scored, inviting pressure and allowing Calderdale to put together a number of promising attacks. Centre-half pairing Jack Cottam and Alex Gilbey were kept busy as the half wore on and the referee’s whistle intervened and came to York’s rescue on more than one occasion as Calderdale fell foul of York’s offside strategy. Keeper Jacob Bryant was called on to leave his line and sweep up behind the back line. York were living dangerously as Calderdale slowly fought their way back into the game. At the other end, the lively Nunnari had a good claim for a penalty turned down when he was caught in the box. The improving Rory Thornton, out on the left, kept things tidy and looked a threat when going forward. Unfortunately, he fell victim to a mistimed heavy challenge from Calderdale, which resulted in a knee injury and forced him out of the rest of the game. The remainder of the half was played out as a much more even affair with both teams working hard, creating a handful of half-chances but failing to find the target.
The teams went into the half time break with the score 1-0 to York.
Second half and more of the same. Calderdale showed their quality on the ball and determination and hard work when out of possession. York had a good chance to extend their lead when Wakerley went on a good run and played a lovely ball into Garbutt-Smith, the big striker just failing to make the right contact to steer the ball home. Billy Hobson played a delicious pass with the outside of his right foot into the path of Weston, who showed pace and skill to get to the by-line and put in a low cross for Garbutt-Smith – the keeper was forced into a good save. Calderdale enjoyed good possession, too but York managed to score their second goal on the hour mark. Holowokiewicz put in a corner which was helped on by Billy Dickinson. Nunnari showed his predator-like skills to evade the defender at the far post and sweep the ball home with his left foot. 2-0. Both teams continued to go toe-to-toe, with both teams enjoying their fair share of possession and York creating a number of chances. Weston forced the keeper into a good near post save; Harry Fort hit a left-foot shot from outside the area that drifted narrowly wide and the same player then chipped a right-footed shot just over the crossbar. As the half wore on, and the game became even more stretched, York were indebted to the dogged determination and efforts of Ben Armitage and Leo Littlewood, who continued to put their stamp on things in midfield by closing down space and winning the ball back to keep York’s lead intact. Keeper Bryant was forced into a brave double save to keep out the opponents but there was nothing he could do when a Calderdale attacker rose unmarked to head home from a corner. 2-1 and Calderdale were now sensing that they could get something from the game. York’s back line, now bolstered by Garbutt-Smith sweeping and offering his pace as insurance, remained vigilant and focussed. With 5 minutes remaining, Calderdale were reduced to 10 men when the keeper rushed out of his area to block and foul Weston and was red-carded as a result. The resultant free-kick from Holowkiewicz beat the wall but struck the post and was cleared to safety.
The final whistle sounded to signal a hard-fought 2-1 victory for York, who maintained their unbeaten record in the league this season.
Scorers: Holowkiewicz (pen), Nunnari
Man of the Match – Billy Hobson: strong defensively; excellent covering and reading of the game; good use of the ball going forward; a vital part of York’s back line.