City’s under-19s held on to secure a narrow victory over top-of-the-table Harrogate Town on Saturday, at the York St John Sports Centre.
Goals from Keke Jeffers and Nathan Tinsdale set the Bantams up with a two-goal lead going into half-time.
The hosts pulled one back through Ollie Nicholson late on, and tried to push for an equaliser, but City stood strong and fought for a hard-earned victory.
It was a side with three changes to it from Saturday’s game against Rotherham, as Leon Brooks, Heath Richardson and Jeffers all came into the starting 11.
The young Bantams started strong and came close within the opening five minutes. A quick one-two between Gabe Wadsworth and Jeffers found City’s No.10 in the box. He dinked the ball over the ‘keeper, only to see his effort cleared off the line.
City kept creating early chances. Nathan Tinsdale struck a free-kick from the right-hand side of the box, but his curling effort smacked the crossbar and bounced away from goal.
The visitors kept their pressure up and took the lead on 21 minutes. Tinsdale played Harry Ibbitson in, who faced Harvey Giles one-on-one, drilling the ball through the Harrogate stopper’s legs. The home defence attempted to scramble the ball away, but Jeffers was on hand to tap home from close range.
It was soon two for Ryan Farrell’s side, as Tinsdale took charge of a free-kick just past the halfway line. He struck it well and it caught the wind and floated into the bottom-left corner, to double City’s lead.
The hosts thought they had responded to the sucker punch moments later. From a set-piece, City failed to clear the ball and it fell to Josh Brodella whose effort was saved by Richardson. The rebound fell to Emmanuel Ilesanmi who tapped home, only to see the flag raised for offside.
The young Bantams nearly added more to their lead at the beginning of the second half. Sam Bentley rose highest from a cross and flicked towards goal, but Giles saved low to deny him.
Harrogate responded to that early opportunity with one of their own. Ilesanmi broke through the defence and faced 16-year-old Zac Hadi one-on-one, but City’s substitute ‘keeper - introduced at the break - saved well low to his left.
The visitors were looking to put the game beyond sight. Wadsworth danced around the defence and looked for the bottom corner, but narrowly missed the target.
League leaders Harrogate however did not lie down, and grabbed one back on the 70th-minute mark. O’Boyle crossed for Nicholson who guided home into the bottom corner.
It would get tougher still for the young Bantams as they looked to protect their now slender advantage. After an altercation off the ball, Nathan Tinsdale saw red, reducing City to 10 players with 15 minutes to go.
As Harrogate pushed forward, City stood firm and parried every attack. Hadi was called into action when a curling effort towards the top corner looked to cause problems, but City’s ‘keeper dived to his left and pushed the effort away.
Hadi again had to be alert when a header from a corner was aimed towards the top corner, but he jumped high again to push the effort onto the bar before it was scrambled away.
The Bantams held on in the end for a hard-fought victory, which moves them to within three points of the summit of the table in third. They next take on Hartlepool United on Tuesday in the EFL Youth Alliance North East division.
HARROGATE: Giles, Williams, Birmingham (Moorby 67’’), Wilson, Attree, Taylor (Smalley 45’), Brodella (Nicholson 45’), Tweed, Ilesanmi, O’Boyle, Liddle (Lee 61’). Subs Not Used: Samuels.
CITY: Richardson (Hadi 45’), Wilkinson, Breaks, Brooks, Kamga, Bentley (C), N. Wadsworth, N. Tinsdale., Ibbitson, Jeffers, Kamwa. Subs Not Used: Sedibeh, Gledhill, Murray, Denison.
GOALS: Jeffers, Tinsdale.