YORK City have made their most prolific start to a league campaign in 24 years.

First-half goals from Simon Heslop and Amari Morgan-Smith completed a 2-0 triumph for the Minstermen over former Football League foes Stockport, taking the team’s tally to 18 from their opening ten matches.

Hitting double figures in respect of games played is normally considered a reliable barometer for a team’s season-long fortunes and, with Gary Mills’ men having netted more times than any City side since the team that would go on to clinch promotion at the old Wembley stadium in 1993, the portents look good for a potent tilt at National League North success.

Encouragingly, the Minstermen have also continued to hit the target, while last term’s leading marksman Jon Parkin still appears to be finding his feet in 2017/18.

Parkin has scored just three times – twice from the penalty spot – but that is the same amount that 1990s’ talisman Paul Barnes had mustered at the same point before finishing his first campaign in City colours under the Twin Towers with 21 goals to his name.

Five-goal Ian Blackstone was surprisingly quickest out of the traps that season and less-celebrated sharp-shooters Heslop and Morgan-Smith have now joined Parkin and Sean Newton at the top of the club’s current charts.

But, in a division where goals are seemingly plentiful – the Minstermen have been outscored so far by two clubs Harrogate (29) and Blyth (22) – it might be the other end of the pitch where honours are decided.

Happily, Mills’ outfit kept their first clean sheet in six matches against Stockport who, themselves, had matched their biggest victory for more than half-a-century in midweek, when they smashed Southport 6-0.

Midfield anchorman Theo Wharton displayed positional maturity in only his second professional start and, aside from a slightly sloppy spell just after half-time, mopped up well in front of his back four and provided an effective defensive shield, whilst also using the ball sensibly in possession.

His presence helped City boss the opening exchanges and take a 2-0 lead before the visitors had a sniff of Jon Worsnop’s goal.

After Parkin and Louis Almond had threatened early on, Morgan-Smith might have done better on 12 minutes, when he dragged wide after Wharton and Newton had combined to send him clear through the left channel.

But, five minutes later, the hosts forged in front when Newton’s long throw from the left was only helped on by a near-post defender and Heslop pounced to stab in from eight yards.

Moments later, Newton curled a 25-yard free kick wide before Morgan-Smith doubled the advantage on 28 minutes.

Heslop, this time, claimed an assist, playing a through ball to the former Luton and Cheltenham forward who, in almost the same position that he had squandered his previous opportunity, curled a sumptuous 15-yard effort beyond Ben Hinchliffe and into the helpless Hatters keeper’s top-left corner. After Almond had also tested Hinchliffe from distance, Jim Gannon’s side thought they had forced a reply on 35 minutes from their first attack of the afternoon.

Following a corner that Parkin sliced, the ball dropped for Matty Warburton, whose low eight-yard shot struck the inside of Worsnop’s left-hand upright and travelled across the Minstermen’s goal-line.

A desperate lunge to get to the ball first then only saw Hamza Bencherif find the back of the net, but the officials had spotted an infringement and the effort was disallowed.

Straight after that reprieve, Hinchliffe had to be quick out of his goal to deny Morgan-Smith on the counter attack and Parkin went on to head wide.

Either side of away sub Dan Cowan clearing the crossbar from 25 yards, Newton also called Hinchliffe into action and then blasted wide after Morgan-Smith and Heslop both turned providers.

The second half was a more even affair, without Stockport ever really threatening to turn the tide.

Warburton’s 20-yard shot was routinely gathered by Worsnop following a poor touch by Wharton and Jason Oswell also volleyed unconvincingly off target after the ball had bounced up invitingly off the turf.

At the other end, Newton curled a free kick wide, while Worsnop was again equal to long-range attempts from Warburton and midfielder Jimmy Ball following a strong forward run.

Morgan-Smith, meanwhile, shinned wide from a cross by Almond, who also cut in from the left before aiming his shot straight at Hinchliffe from the edge of the box On 79 minutes, Warburton stole in front of Dan Parslow, but steered a low right-wing cross by Adam Thomas wide of the neat post.

The Minstermen were in no mood to retreat, though, with Alex Whittle’s deflected cross tipped over by Hinchliffe, who also had to contend with a Kaine Felix shot from just outside the area and another curling Newton free kick.

After Worsnop had held a 25-yard effort by Scott Duxbury in stoppage time, City supporters could then celebrate their team’s second win in eight home contests – a record that must now be improved upon if Mills’ men are to build on their leap up to fifth in the league standings.


Jon Worsnop 7 – handling and positioning was very reliable throughout

Josh Law 7 – made several important interceptions and clearances

Hamza Bencherif 7 – won his aerial battles, little lucky with disallowed goal

Dan Parslow 7- swept up well to repel number of away attacks

Alex Whittle 7 – happy to bomb on and kept things tight other end

Simon Heslop 8 – scored first, set up second and determined all game

Theo Wharton 7 – used ball sensibly and mopped up in front of back four

Sean Newton 7 – provided a steady stream of shots at goal

Louis Almond 7 – kept possession with care and always looked to probe

Jon Parkin 7 – strong without really threatening his 200th career goal `

Amari Morgan-Smith 8 – great goal during very busy first-half display

Substitutes: Michael Rankine (for Parkin, 77), Kaine Felix (for Almond, 77).

Subs not used: Sam Muggleton, Connor Smith, Jassem Sukar.

City star man: Heslop


Ben Hinchliffe, Sam Minihan (Dan Cowan, 25), Michael Clarke (Chris Smalley, 31), Stephen O’Halloran, Scott Duxbury, Darren Stephenson, Jimmy Ball (Adam Thomas, 76), Harry Winter, Sam Walker, Matty Warburton, Jason Oswell. Subs not used: Connor Hampson, Dane Smith.

Referee: David Underwood rating: 6/10 – not the most decisive

Booked: O’Halloran 89

Sent off: None

Attendance: 3,011 (770 from Stockport)

Shots on target: City 11, Stockport 5

Shots off target: City 7, Stockport 4

Corners: City 4, Stockport 6

Fouls conceded: City 8, Stockport 7

Offside: City 0, Stockport 1