After a poor start to the season York desperately needed an upturn in fortunes. On recent performances the prospect of a relegation dogfight seems closer than ever.
Last year saw the First team get promoted into the Northern Universities Premier League, creating a difficult challenge for the many new additions to the First XI after a large quantity of the team’s players left at the end of last year. Promotion brings with it the challenges of taking on the big guns, with bigger squads and better facilitles than York. Coupled with the late start of term, York suffers, as players have less time to ‘gel’ and train unlike rival universities. However, by the second termthings tend to look up. Unfortunately this year’s teamhave not yet managed to follow the script.
Last Wednesday saw Captain Nik Miller lead the First XI out at home against Leeds opposition, one of the favourites to win the title this season. Without having played a game for the initial four weeks of term, on paper it looked set to be a true test for the underdogs York.
The first ten minutes were a rather frantic and impatient display from both sides in a scrappy midfield battle, with Pete Noble being a strong reliable anchorman in the middle of the park. An energetic looking York midfield including the influential Nick Wall and James Glisson provided inspiration and creativity for the York forwards.
However, the team fell victim to an early setback on fifteen minutes when a free kick on the edge of the area was viciously deflected and subsequently tapped in at the far post giving Leeds the lead.
York restarted the match with typical optimism and began to play at a much faster tempo. Unfortunately, despite far slicker passing there was no reward, as the home side were not able to capitalise in the final third of the pitch. Just as York seemed to get into gear an unfortunate twist of fate saw the usually dependable Matt White score a very unlucky own goal from an excellent Leeds set piece.
Two nil down and the task looked more and more impossible for York, but surprisingly the team picked themselves up once more being particularly patient with the ball amongst the back four. On the stroke of half time Leeds scored again to make it 3-0 from a magnificent corner whipped in with pace across the face of the goal, leaving a resistant Matt Belk stranded after making some excellent saves in the earlier part of the half.
The second half saw the ball being excellently distributed to quick wingers Max Pumphreys and James Glisson by the centre midfield partnership of Matt White and Nick Wall. After intense pressure from York, a beautifully crafted passing move carved open the Leeds defence leaving a composed Matt White to fire in from close range offering a glimmer of hope for York.
After continuing pressure and effort from John Key at the back, to Marcus Elliot up front, York were being frustrated time and again in all areas of the field. As the game started to draw to a close, a miss-kick from goalkeeper Matt Belk let one of the Leeds strikers in to score an audacious lob with the keeper only eight yards of his line.
A disappointing day for York, which could be summed up by Leeds taking their chances and York squandering theirs, advocating a general consensus that York didn’t possess the killer instinct in front of goal as their Leeds counterparts did. Nik Miller reflected on the game by saying “despite the result, it was a well fought game and a good performance from the team today. Things look promising, but there is a lot of hard work to do in order to fight relegation and in preparation for Roses”.