Date: 23rd September 2017 at 4:51pm
Written by: Vital York City

York City went down to a sobering 2-0 defeat to National League North leaders Harrogate Town at the CNG Stadium.

The Minstermen were soon in arrears to their neighbours after goalkeeper Jon Worsnop brought down Jordan Thewlis and Joe Leesley converted the penalty.

Their task became even more difficult early in the second-half, Liam Agnew’s effort taking a big deflection past Worsnop. Skipper Sean Newton later struck an upright but a recovery never appeared likely.

There was earlier a single change for the visitors with Kaine Felix replacing leading goalscorer Jon Parkin, who had been rated doubtful due to concerns regarding the artificial playing surface. Fellow experienced marksman Michael Rankine also missed out, although midfielder Adriano Moke returned on the bench and was joined by sixteen-year-old youth-team striker Ryan Edmondson.

Harrogate were themselves without top scorer Simon Ainge, in addition to former City trialist Dominic Knowles, while on loan Jake Wright – another with York connections – similarly missed out through injury. Agnew was their only alteration following midfielder David Morgan moving to Southport earlier this week.

A sell-out 2,800 attendance boosted by a huge travelling contingent witnessed both sides battling for early supremacy, with Alex Whittle clearing behind Leesley’s cross.

However, moments after Whittle’s fierce shot was parried by James Belshaw following Josh Law returning a free-kick, the hosts broke away despite claims of a foul and Thewlis went down late under the challenge of cautioned keeper Worsnop. Leesley calmly struck home the penalty.

Warren Burrell headed behind a George Thomson corner five minutes later and Whittle curled wide at the other end following Simon Heslop linking with Law. Louis Almond also volleyed out of the ground and Hamza Bencherif was similarly too high after Newton’s shot was charged down.

But Thewlis had a deflected reply flashing dangerously across the face of goal, with Ryan Fallowfield blocking from Amari Morgan-Smith. Newton also failed to seriously test Belshaw in first-half stoppage-time, that ahead of Law requiring attention for an apparent groin injury.

The visitors made a double-change at the break, one of those enforced with Jassem Sukar replacing the injured Law, and Moke taking over from Felix in a revised formation.

However, York soon slipped further into arrears with Agnew’s drive taking a fortunate deflection off Sukar on its way past Worsnop.

Almond next curled wide having been brought down on the edge of the area by Terry Kennedy, and also hoisted over another attempt from similar distance.

Harrogate could have had another when Thewlis turned Josh Falkingham’s cross wide at the far post midway through the second-half. Worsnop then denied Leesley at his near post before Connor Smith replaced Theo Wharton.

The visitors went close to a reply as Newton’s ten-yard shot came back off an upright, while Almond at least forced Belshaw into action going to his right.

Home skipper Ben Parker later dragged wide of the mark before opposite number Newton was similarly off-target inside the final five minutes – and then had a further strike taken by Belshaw at the second attempt as Morgan-Smith waited.

Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Fallowfield, Parker, Falkingham, Kennedy, Burrell, Thomson, Emmett, Leesley, Thewlis (Burdett 85), Agnew (Vann 77)

subs (unused): Cracknell, Middleton, Curry

Goals: Leesley (pen 16), Agnew (51)

York City: Worsnop, Law (Sukar 46), Parslow, Bencherif, Whittle, Heslop, Wharton (Smith 68), Newton, Morgan-Smith, Almond, Felix (Moke 46)

subs (unused): Simpson, Edmondson

Ref: S. Simpson

Att: 2,800