BEN Wilkinson earned York City their first pre-season home victory with a first-half winner against Hartlepool United.

The 21-year-old midfielder, with a knack of ghosting late into penalty boxes, converted a Daniel McBreen cross to score the only goal of last night’s friendly game.

Following three successive draws against Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Barnsley, Colin Walker’s men protected their pleasing unbeaten record in 2008/9 warm-up games by overcoming their League One visitors.

In comparison to previous outings, Walker’s starting XI last night probably also most closely resembled that he will field for City’s Blue Square Premier curtain raiser at Crawley Town a week on August 9, although Josh Mimms and McBreen might prove the exceptions.

Eighteen-year-old ’keeper Mimms will make way should first-choice Michael Ingham recover from his thigh injury over the next ten days and Australian striker McBreen looked short of match fitness last night, while his rivals for starting places have all enjoyed impressive pre-seasons.

At the other end of the pitch, Walker once more fielded a back four, rather than the three-man defence he preferred last season.

The switch in formation has been made easier by the tidy performances of Niall Henderson on the right side of midfield – a position that has proven troublesome ever since the departure of Mark Convery. Teenage left-back Andy McWilliams also impressed against Hartlepool and looks to have dislodged Mark Robinson from that berth ahead of the Crawley game.

City survived a few early penalty box scares in last night’s match, with Sam Collins heading narrowly wide from an Alan Power cross to the far post on seven minutes.

Shortly afterwards, hesitation between Mimms and Danny Parslow almost saw visiting striker James Brown latch on to a long punt forward by Hartlepool ’keeper Jan Budtz before City’s Welsh defender recovered to clear off the line.

Mark Greaves had the Minstermen’s first sight of goal, volleying at Budtz from the edge of the box on 14 minutes.

Free-kicks from Martyn Woolford and Craig Farrell also failed to break the deadlock before Wilkinson netted five minutes before the interval.

The former Hull City midfielder tapped in from six yards after McBreen broke the Hartlepool offside trap to collect a long pass from David McGurk and squared the ball across the face of goal.

After the break, more confusion between Parslow and Mimms saw Brown steal in between the pair, but he then failed to lift his shot over the City ’keeper while, at the other end, a right-wing cross by Richard Brodie had to be clawed out from under his own bar by Budtz.

Farrell was then poised to head in a Ben Purkiss cross only for Michael Nelson to make an excellent far-post intervention.

On 85 minutes, Hartlepool substitute Michael Haber got in behind Parslow, but the City centre-back made a strong recovery tackle.

Brodie also unleashed a swerving and dipping left-footed shot that narrowly cleared Budtz’s bar from 20 yards and Woolford volleyed wide from a similar distance.

Former Sheffield Wednesday striker Ritchie Humphreys, now playing at left-back for Hartlepool, missed the visitors’ last chance when he dragged a 25-yard effort wide on 90 minutes.

City: Mimms, Purkiss, McGurk, Parslow, McWilliams (Robinson, 71), Henderson (Rusk, 66), Greaves, Wilkinson (Hogg, 79), Woolford, McBreen (Brodie, 60), Farrell (Sodje, 74).

Subs not used: McDonald.

Hartlepool: Jan Budtz, Jamie McCunnie (Jonathan Forbes, 67), Sam Collins, Ben Clark (Michael Nelson, 53), Ritchie Humphreys, Jonny Rowell (David Foley, 46), Alan Power, Antony Sweeney, Matty Robson, Richard Barker (Marcus Haber, 53), James Brown (Michael Mackay, 61).

Sub not used: Mark Cook.

Referee: Peter Quinn.