MICHAEL DUCKWORTH believes the hard work York City are putting in during pre-season will give them an advantage come the start of term.

The right-back scored the winning goal against Newcastle United on a hot day at the LNER Community Stadium, where City put in a huge shift in a 1-0 win against the Premier League Magpies.

Since returning to training at the start of this month, manager Steve Watson has been pushing his squad to shake off five months of close-season.

And Sunday's win was another step on that path, which has the boss and players feeling optimistic.

“The gaffer came in and said, ‘You apply yourself like that week in, week out in the league and we’ll beat most teams’," Duckworth said.

“It’s a good test for us. You want to play against the best players. Some of the young boys who haven’t had a taste of that, it’s massive for them.

“That’s where they want to be, that’s the level they want to get to. Playing in the Premier League is the dream for any young lad.

“We’ll keep battling, keep working hard and see where the season takes us.

"Everyone’s been working hard in pre-season, the gaffer’s had us running - with the weather, it has been tough.

“You want to be fit come the first game of the season. You want to be the fittest team in the league.

“It helps when you get to 60, 70 minutes - that’s when you can steamroller teams in this league and I feel like we’ve got the calibre of players to do that."

With three minutes to go to the final whistle, Duckworth leapt and headed a Scott Barrow cross fantastically over United's 6ft 7ins keeper Dan Langley.

A clean sheet and a goal for a full-back “doesn’t get much better for a start of pre-season, does it?" Duckworth said.

“We always knew this was going to be a completely different test for us from Whitby but I thought we played very well. We defended well as a unit, caused them problems even in the first half.

“It’s been tough, which is better for the boys. Credit to the lads really. A few boys had to dig in late on."

Tonight (7pm), York host Sunderland in another pre-season friendly.