In their first outing since the New Year, York’s First XI got their Northern 2B campaign going again in imposing fashion, convincingly defeating league leaders Leeds Beckett 4-1. Although the visitors cancelled out Conor McCoy’s opener from the penalty spot, an own goal and further strikes from the outstanding McCoy and Mirhire Overo-Tarimo put the gloss on the win.
The gale force winds, which howled infernally around the 3G throughout, rendered it difficult for either side to establish rhythm in the early stages. It didn’t take long, however, for York to recognise that, given the conditions, they were compelled to keep the ball on the ground in order to move up the pitch. Garo Heath picked up the ball on the left wing and drove at Leeds Beckett’s defence, earning his side a penalty after he was caught between two bodies and brought crashing down to the turf by their befuddled right-back. Conor McCoy converted the penalty.
Quicksilver Heath continued to use his express pace to test his marker, and, after being afforded a second chance, curled an effort narrowly over the bar from close range. Meanwhile Leeds Beckett’s centre forward, who had previously placed a presentable chance straight at Balzan, was proving a nuisance to York’s captain Dave Belshaw. Having watched a speculative long ball soar over his shoulder, he showed great composure to lift the ball over Balzan and nod into an empty net for 1-1, in spite of the attentions of Guy Bowden.
After the away side, clad smartly in purple, had pegged back their hosts it became an even contest still indelibly impacted by the swirling winds and, by this time, icy sleet. Two of McCoy’s inswinging free-kicks were carried out for a throw-in by the wind, which severely hampered set-piece delivery for both sides. Lone striker Josh Bew, occasionally bypassed by his side’s preference for pushing the ball out wide, remained alert and nearly latched onto a loose pass from Leeds’ centre-half, while Eddie Fotheringham was unable to convert with their keeper off his goal line.
Conor McCoy, the furthest forward of York’s midfield triumvirate, was a constant source of invention and a reliable option through which the ball was regularly pushed forward. Shortly before half-time, McCoy took hold of possession in the left hand channel and let fly, gleefully watching his speculative effort deflect off the unwitting boot of a defender and nestle into the bottom corner. This goal was a turning point and it seemed to severely deflate Leeds Beckett, who lost their stake in the game’s outcome from this moment on.
The Black and Gold were highly impressive in the second half; they were able to commit bodies in the final third without sacrificing defensive solidity- entertainingly so. Chris Osbourne’s low drive careered past both the far post and the outstretched boot of Bew, while Heath momentarily lost his clinical streak by misfiring at the back post following a corner.
Overo-Tarimo had the time and space as the game progressed to make rangy runs into opposition territory. Reaching the left byline, the midfielder stabbed a driven centre into the box, which was turned into his own net by Leeds Beckett’s retreating defender, to make it 3-1. It was 4-1 shortly after, as McCoy’s corner was met by Belshaw and subsequently turned in from seven yards by Overo-Tarimo. This ten minute spell effectively secured the points for York.
The scoreline could have been all the more emphatic, if it were not for a combination of a Leeds Beckett defender’s thigh and some hesitancy on the part of Bew in a goalmouth melee. A word for goalkeeper Andy Balzan, who dealt with the windy conditions admirably and made a stunning save at 4-1, tipping a fierce drive onto the underside of the bar. Encouragingly, Jeremy Nestor came on with ten minutes to go and looked very tidy on the ball.
This was a heartening victory for the Black and Gold. Leeds Beckett had led the league before Wednesday’s fixtures and had only been defeated once in Northern 2B this season. Captain Dave Belshaw commented: “I was really happy with today’s performance. We knew we had to up our game today against the team at the top of our league, and every man in the squad stepped up to the plate.”
“We dominated the game from start to finish. Hopefully we can kick on from this and finish the season strongly.”
UYAFC (4-3-3): Balzan; Bowden, Gill, Belshaw, Fox; Osbourne, Overo-Tarimo, McCoy (Easter); Fotheringham (Weighall), Bew (Nestor), Heath
Man of the Match: Conor McCoy