Avenue 3 City 0

STUART McCall returned to his viewing perch alongside the press bench with a smile and a promise.

"This is my team now," he announced. "The first half was Kenny's!"

His dead-panning was no slight on assistant manager Kenny Black as City surprisingly trailed 3-0 at the break. It was merely a throwaway line that indicated the throwaway nature of pre-season friendly scores.

Similarly, McCall later pointed out that "his" side had "got a point" following a goalless second period. He knew that in the grand scheme of things, the result on Saturday meant absolutely nothing.

Not to take away the bragging rights for Avenue, who took their chances when presented by some extremely rusty defending.

But their biggest source of delight will have been the bumper 2,020 Horsfall Stadium crowd and, more importantly, the coveted receipts to swell coffers for their approaching National League North campaign.

For City, it was about getting those first playing minutes in the legs. It is still very early days in the marathon.

The panic brigade will no doubt point to the number of senior players at McCall's disposal for the first game.

Only Paul Taylor and Alex Gilliead were missing after they topped up fitness levels with a personal session at Apperley Bridge that morning.

Yet this was no more than a glorified training run for the rest in sun-kissed match conditions. Formations were switched accordingly halfway through to accommodate everyone.

The sticky condition of the pitch, which held the ball up, did not help the flow and much of the action was played at three-quarter pace.

Still, it was good to see City line up with so many recognisable faces. For once that scourge of the pre-season team sheet, A Trialist, was in the minority – at least on the visiting side.

Avenue had half a dozen 'men without names' – although right back Jordan Windass was easy to spot, given dad Dean was knocking around the place.

City fielded just the one guest in left back Ellis Plummer. The 22-year-old, released at the end of last season by Manchester City, had been training with the Bantams and played the first half.

But it is not an area where McCall is looking and they parted their ways after the game.

The key interest in the side that kicked off proceedings was midfielder Jake Reeves, the most recent recruit, and his fitness is not in doubt.

He played every minute of the last league season for Wimbledon and has been at the front in all the training runs since moving up.

So it was no surprise to see him buzzing around with plenty of energy in the central domain that used to belong to Josh Cullen.

Charlie Wyke, partnered up front by the willing Dominic Poleon, also threw his weight around and twice had chances with headers from Ellis Hudson corners.

But it was Avenue who struck first with an absolute belter from Nicky Clee. The winger has a reputation for long-range shooting and wellied one into the top corner after City struggled to clear a free-kick.

Poleon forced a good save from Avenue keeper Steve Drench before Matt Kilgallon was badly caught out by Javan Vidal's neat footwork in the box.

The right back slipped the ball through Kilgallon's legs and was dragged back for a blatant penalty which was emphatically converted by Nicky Wroe.

Just over a minute later and it was 3-0 thanks to some more questionable defending, Adam Boyes enjoying a free header from Oli Johnson's cut-back.

Tyrell Robinson was denied a quick reply by Ryan Toulson's clearance off the line as the bulk of the audience were left scratching their heads at the half-time score.

City switched everyone round at the break and all eyes turned to £200,000 capture Shay McCartan playing in the attacking role of a midfield diamond.

The Northern Ireland international did not disappoint, even if his famed free-kick routine could not get the ball down in time with his first attempt from 25 yards.

McCartan had City's best efforts to reduce the deficit, stinging the keeper's hands with one vicious cross-shot and jabbing past the near post from Tony McMahon's low cross.

But Avenue could have added to their tally when centre half Lachlan Barr's underhit back-pass left Boyes clear before Rouven Sattelmaier raced from his goal to smother.

The German also made an alert save late on from Danny Boshell.

But the honours went to Avenue; not that anyone at Valley Parade will be losing any sleep over that.

City – First half: Doyle, Hanson, Vincelot, Kilgallon, Plummer, Hudson, Devine, Reeves, Robinson, Poleon, Wyke. Second half: Sattelmaier, McMahon, Barr, Knight-Percival, Chicksen, Dieng, Pybus, Law, McCartan, Patrick, Jones.

Avenue: Drench, Vidal, Hill, Wroe, Trialist, Toulson, Trialist, Trialist, Boyes, Johnson, Clee.