Leaders Town take local bragging rights after City success

Joe Leesley silences the York City support after opening the scoring at the CNG Stadium. Picture: Town Pix
Joe Leesley silences the York City support after opening the scoring at the CNG Stadium. Picture: Town Pix

Harrogate Town remain top of National League North courtesy of a derby day victory over local rivals York City.

In what was the first ever league meeting of the two North Yorkshire clubs, goals in each half from Joe Leesley and the returning Liam Agnew earned Simon Weaver’s side all three points in front of a 2,800 sell-out crowd at the CNG Stadium.

“I’m delighted to get the points,” the Town boss reflected.

“We knew that there were quite a lot of new supporters – young and old – turning up so we wanted to do ourselves justice and we put in a good performance.

“There were noises in the week that big Jon Parkin and Michael Rankine might not be available and they [York] went for the the passing style and tried to play, but we had a solid midfield and made it hard for them by being compact.

“As a unit, the back four were really solid and although we weren’t great all the time on the counter-attack with the final ball, for the majority I thought we played really well.

“They all played with great passion which is what you want as a manager but also as a supporter when your local team is playing in a local derby. You’ve got to earn the right [to play] and I thought that we did.”

It was visitors City, unbeaten in four games coming into the fixture, who were first to threaten and Town stopper James Belshaw was forced into a save by Alex Whittle.

Weaver’s men then went straight on the offensive and Jordan Thewlis earned his team a penalty when he burst through on goal and attempted to round Jon Worsnop, only to be brought to ground by the gloveman’s outstetched arm.

Leesley smashed the resulting spot-kick down the middle of the goal to give Town a 15th-minute lead and Warren Burrell and Thewlis had opportunities to add to the home advantage before half-time.

Whittle again went close for York, but it took until the 52nd minute before the second goal of the afternoon arrived.

Agnew cut inside from the left and fired a deflected effort past Worsnop for 2-0, marking his comeback from injury with a first goal in a yellow and black shirt.

Thewlis and Leesley had opportunities to end the game as a contest before Sean Newton threatened to spark a City revival, only to see his strike rebound off a post.

Belshaw had to be alert to keep out another Newton shot in the closing stages, but Town managed to see the game out, their victory keeping them top of the table on goal-difference from Salford City.

Next up for Weaver and his troops is a home clash with National League North rivals Bradford Park Avenue in the FA Cup this Saturday, 3pm kick-off at the CNG Stadium.