Altrincham 1, York City 3

YORK City kicked off the new National League North season with a convincing 3-1 victory away to Altrincham.

City trailed after a dozen minutes thanks to James Jones’ header and were largely outplayed in the first half by the hosts.

But, a deflected cross from David Ferguson late in the half levelled proceedings and while there was good fortune about that goal, City worked hard to force themselves ahead.

Two goals in six minutes from Joe Tait and Jordan Burrow established a strong advantage, later aided by Sean Williams’ sending off.

Steve Watson’s side controlled the game until its finish and were well deserved winners.

Of course, making too many judgements after one game would be foolish, but given that Altrincham finished in last season’s play-offs and completed the double of York last term, this seemed a significant win.

A lot has changed since last season though for City, with plenty of their summer additions showing evidence to back up their pre-season promise in their first competitive outings.

Watson handed four players their York City debuts. New recruits Peter Jameson, Steve McNulty, Andy Bond and Dan Maguire were named in the starting 11, while Paddy McLaughlin came off the bench after securing a permanent move.

York employed a 3-5-2 formation, with new skipper McNulty alongside Sean Newton and Joe Tait at the back.

It was the strength in defence that would prove pivotal to the game’s opener after 12 minutes.

Jameson provided a fantastic save to deny Tom Hannigan’s header from a corner, diving to his left hand side from the knocked-down header to push it wide.

The keeper couldn’t repeat his heroics moments later though. This time it was James Jones who rose highest while unmarked in the penalty area and sent a glancing flick header into the bottom right corner.

Just four minutes later and almost everyone in the ground thought Altrincham had doubled their lead. A cross-field pass from the left side saw kneed backwards by Ferguson on the edge of penalty area and allowed Jordan Hulme to snatch in.

But his dinked effort over Jameson trickled wide of the post.

Altrincham continued to look dangerous, particularly down their right flank through John Johnston. The winger raced away in a counter attack, going past Bond before shooting inches wide of the target.

After half an hour’s play, York did conjure their first effort on goal when an ambitious overhead kick from Maguire nestled into Steven Drench’s hands.

In fairness to City, they clawed their way back into the match from there onwards. Maguire saw a close-range effort palmed away before Bond had a couple of quick-fire shots blocked.

Johnston remained the danger man for Altrincham though and his cross led to an offside Connor Hampson volleying over.

For all of the praise given to Johnston’s raids down the flank, he allowed wing back Ferguson the space to score City’s leveller.

Ferguson went on a signature run down the left wing and his deflected shot looked to have gone in off the corner of the post – with Maguire making sure by firing in the rebound.

Regardless of the scorer, York were level heading into the second and while the flare that came from the City supporters was most certainly an over-reaction, there was cause for optimism.

Six minutes after the restart, York fans certainly had reason to celebrate.

Again, Ferguson was involved as he sent the corner to back post with Newton rising high. He knocked it back across the face of goal and Tait stuck out his foot to fire it into the roof of the net.

The two sides exchanged chances seconds later. Alex Kempster had a cross saved before the lively Max Harrop forced Jameson into another quality stop.

But, just short of the hour mark, York doubled their lead after making a break through midfield, with Kempster – who was fouled by Connor Brandon – finding Bond who laid the ball off to Jordan Burrow.

In turn, the striker applied the instinctive finish, curling the ball into the far right corner and sparking jubilant scenes among the away fans.

Minutes later, Bond had a chance of his own, lashing a strike from the edge of the area and forcing a fine dive from Drench to push it clear.

As the game entered its final quarter, York’s task was made far easier. For the second time in the game, Sean Williams fouled Adriano Moke, earning himself two yellow cards and all but sealing victory for the visitors.

Altrincham: Drench, White (Walters 61), Hampson (C) (Mularkey, 61), Jones, Hannigan, Branson, Johnston (Peers, 70), Williams, Hulme, Harrop, Arnold. Subs not used: Densmore, Thompson.

Goals: Jones (12).

York: Jameson 7, Griffiths 7, Ferguson 8, Newton 8, McNulty (C) 7, Tait 8, Moke 8 (Green, 79, 6), Bond 8, Burrow 8, Maguire 8 (Langstaff, 81, 5), Kempster 7 (McLaughlin, 74, 5). Subs not used: Spratt, Whitley.

Goals: Ferguson (43), Tait (51), Burrow (59).

City Man of the Match: David Ferguson - a livewire all afternoon down the left side and involved in York’s first two goals. Looks at home in the left wing back position.

Referee: Peter Shacklady.

Attendance: 1,879.

Yellow cards: Williams (53, 74), Branson (59), Harrop (78), McLaughlin (82).