Emley AFC defeated league leaders Knaresborough Town 2-0 on Friday night and boss Richard Tracey said: “It was a great win but not our best performance.”

Iyrwah Gooden volleyed the opener and earned the penalty scored by James Walshaw for a hard-fought three points.

Emley hadn’t played in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division since beating near neighbours Golcar United 3-1 three weeks ago.

But in that time four matches in the FA Cup and FA Vase – three wins and a draw – had boosted confidence.

Victory over Knaresborough was a third successive league win and Tracey said: “We started really well and could have been three or four up in the first 10 minutes. Then Iyrwah scored and we got the penalty to go 2-0 but after that, to be honest, we were pretty poor.

“Credit to Knaresborough they were very attacking and went very direct and our two midfielders had to track their runners and we ended up with a back six or seven at times. If we’d been a bit more ruthless we could have killed the game off.

“While it wasn’t a great performance, if you can win against the top of the league with not the best of performances that has to be a positive sign.”

Emley boss Richard Tracey. Pic by: SEAN DOYLE

Ruben Jerome had a couple of early chances for the home side, one of which was tipped wide by Boro keeper Tommy Brown.

Emley went ahead in the 10th minute when Gooden showed great technique to loop a dipping volley over the keeper and under the bar.

The Pewits made it 2-0 just before the half-hour when Gooden was blatantly pulled back and Walshaw converted from the penalty spot.

In the second half Emley pressed for the clincher but a third goal wouldn’t come despite the best efforts of Jerome, Joe Clegg and Gooden.

Passions were rising and tackles flying as Knaresborough became increasingly desperate towards the end. Brett Smith was sin-binned before the visitors were reduced to 10 men with three minutes left when Ewan Gregson was sent off.

With the cup fixtures thrown in, Emley have had two matches a week and fatigue could have kicked in on Friday night.

Joe Kenny was out with a hamstring injury, Charlie Barks was on holiday and Jack Cowgill pulled out in the warm-up with a hamstring problem. Steve Smith, meanwhile, has a knee injury and is awaiting an MRI scan.

“We have a squad of 19 and with games coming thick and fast we’re having to use everybody,” said Tracey. “Some of the lads looked a bit tired and fatigue may have shown on Friday night.”

Emley’s next game is a league game away at Albion Sports on Wednesday September 13 (8.00) and Tracey added: “They are a good side on a good run, as we are, but it’ll be another test for us.”

Main image: Iyrwah Gooden. Pic by: MARK PARSONS