YORK City laid to rest any concerns about their mental strength at Bradford Park Avenue’s Cemetery Road ground.

A deadly display of finishing saw the Minstermen kill off their National League North hosts with four goals in the opening 32 minutes, clearing a psychological hurdle at the modest athletics arena, in the process, as Gary Mills’ team met their manager’s challenge of proving they can perform in the division’s less salubrious stadia.

Enjoying the support of an 845-strong away following certainly helped in that respect, with City’s fans celebrating each of the visitors’ eventual five goals with the vigour you would expect during their team’s biggest win for six years.

After a profligate night at Blyth Spartans, Amari Morgan-Smith offered a reminder of his finishing potential by bagging a brace following Dan Parslow’s third-minute opening goal.

Skipper Sean Newton went on to claim his second in as many games after being pushed forward into a midfield role, before Louis Almond who, amazingly, teed up all five goals, provided the second-half cross that home defender Luca Havern turned into his own net. Hamza Bencherif’s careless second yellow card for a tug on ex-City striker Adam Boyes’ shirt proved the only blemish of the afternoon on 73 minutes, but the outclassed hosts would complete the 90 minutes without forcing away keeper Jon Worsnop into a single save.

Parslow set the ball rolling when he headed in following Almond’s curling free kick into the six-yard box after the latter had been fouled close to the byline.

Further aerial chances saw City assert their authority in the home penalty box with Michael Rankine heading off target and Bencherif calling Avenue net-minder Steven Drench into action following crosses from Almond and Newton respectively.

A flashing Almond effort also cleared the crossbar before he inadvertently set up Morgan-Smith for his first goal on 12 minutes.

The ball struck the ex-Tranmere attacker after Rankine had helped on Worsnop’s long kick down the middle of the pitch and ricocheted kindly into Morgan-Smith’s path.

But the former Cheltenham forward, who failed to convert a hat-trick of one-on-one opportunities in his last outing, still had plenty to do and displayed immaculate calmness to lift the ball past an advancing Drench.

Newton might have joined him on the scoresheet after 20 minutes when he rampaged through the left channel following Rankine’s clever flick, only to blast into the sidenetting.

City did add a third, though, five minutes later when left-back Alex Whittle charged to the byline before picking out Almond in the penalty box.

His firm drive was then parried by Drench, but Morgan-Smith was on hand to pounce from inside the six-yard box.

Bencherif’s far-post header from Morgan-Smith’s corner was also kept out by Drench, before Almond drove down the right and delivered a low cross that Newton turned in from a matter of inches.

After the break, Mark Bower’s men mustered their first goal attempt on 48 minutes, but centre-back James Knowles’ header finished well wide.

Almond, meanwhile, remained a threat and, either side of another harmless header by Boyes, the City forward curled over following a searching forward pass by Simon Heslop and saw a 30-yard attempt gathered by Drench. Just past the hour, the former Halifax and Morecambe shot-stopper then dived low to his left to push a Newton pile-driver behind for a corner.

But, on 69 minutes, Almond teased his way through the left channel before sending in a firm cross that Havern headed past a helpless Drench from five yards.

After Bencherif, who had been cautioned for a trip just outside the box on Wayne Brooksby in the first half, was sent for an early shower following his misdemeanour close to the halfway line, Drench went on to prevent his side from being hit for six and denied Kaine Felix his first City goal in 17 outings.

Felix’s header was clawed away in acrobatic fashion by after Adriano Moke’s positive burst into the box.


Jon Worsnop; Josh Law, Hamza Bencherif, Dan Parslow, Alex Whittle (Sam Muggleton, 64); Simon Heslop, Adriano Moke, Sean Newton; Louis Almond, Michael Rankine (Kaine Felix, 56), Amari Morgan-Smith (Connor Smith, 65). Subs not used: Aidan Connolly, Jassem Sukar.

Bradford Park Avenue

Steven Drench, Javan Vidal (Mark Ross, 46), Luca Havern, James Knowles, Matt Hill (Nicky Clee, 55), Wayne Brooksby, Danny Boshell, Nicky Wroe (Adam Nowakowski, 43), Nicky Boshell, Oli Johnson, Adam Boyes. Subs not used: Jamie Spencer, Lee Knight.

Bradford Park Avenue star man: Drench – two fine saves kept score down

Referee: Aaron Bannister rating: 7/10 – no complaints about officials at this level yet

Booked: Bencherif 23, Brooksby 35, D Boshell 90+1.

Sent off: Bencherif 73

Attendance: 1,133

Shots on target: Bradford Park Avenue 0, City 9

Shots off target: Bradford Park Avenue 3, City 5

Corners: Bradford Park Avenue 3, City 8

Fouls conceded: Bradford Park Avenue 9, City 11

Offside: Bradford Park Avenue 0, City 4