HAVING left their snowed-in coach at home, Aldershot proceeded to park the proverbial bus on their eventual arrival at Bootham Crescent.
The phrase, famously coined by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, summed up the Shots’ approach to Saturday’s cold contest perfectly.
Dean Holdsworth’s men, who had been forced to travel separately to North Yorkshire on trains from a variety of different stations in the country, frustrated their hosts by spreading two well-drilled banks of four across the impressively playable pitch.
Strikers Dani Lopez and Craig Reid also worked hard to get behind the ball quickly and the visitors’ defensive outlook saw them muster only one shot on target all afternoon – a weak Kieron Cadogan effort on eight minutes.
The Minstermen, though, did not set a tempo that troubled their organised opponents and options for home players in possession were limited far too often.
As a result, Michael Ingham was only kept busy by regular back passes to the frustration of some home supporters, most notably when roars of disapproval greeted left-back Jamal Fyfield’s ball back to the City ’keeper from inside Aldershot’s half.
Only Matty Blair briefly provided some urgency to the hosts’ attacking play with a couple of trademark charges down the flanks but his fellow strikers, Jason Walker and Jamie Reed, offered little penetration.
The latter made way for new signing Ben Everson, who could not mark his City debut with a goal when he met fellow replacement Lanre Oyebanjo’s corner late on.
A flat atmosphere gave an almost practice match feel to the encounter with the players unable to rouse the fans and vice versa. It was all pretty drab stuff and, with Ashley Chambers and Michael Coulson crocked, City lacked unpredictability in the final third of the pitch.
Wide attacking players remain Gary Mills’ chief transfer window targets although the imminent return of Oli Johnson and Alex Rodman, who was refused permission to play against his parent club on Saturday, should improve matters in that respect.
As the manager pointed out afterwards, however, even when struggling for inspiration and invention up top, the Minstermen remain a difficult side to beat.
Saturday’s stalemate represented City’s 12th draw of the season and a record of eight defeats in League Two is fewer than top-seven sides Exeter, Rotherham, Northampton and Burton.
Against Aldershot, skipper Chris Smith led a strong rearguard battle to earn Ingham his ninth clean sheet of the season.
After rolling back the covers that had protected the pitch from last week’s freezing temperatures, both teams made a lukewarm start to the match.
Cadogan failed to stretch Ingham with the game’s first attempt, using the outside of his right boot from the edge of the box after running at a back-pedalling Smith.
He glanced a header well wide before Blair sliced off target with a 15-yard volley on 23 minutes.
At the other end, Aldershot failed to capitalise when City were twice guilty of napping at set-pieces while Sonny Bradley and Michael Hector missed the target by a long way from distance.
City’s best spell came at the end of the half when Michael Potts’ 20-yard strike called Aldershot’s Australian ’keeper Jamie Young into an amusingly over-elaborate save.
Smith also headed narrowly wide from Walker’s dangerously-delivered cross to the far post.
After the break, Potts’ clever back heel gave Reed a chance to tee up Paddy McLaughlin, but his shot was kicked away by Bradley.
Another Smith header, from Dan Parslow’s cross, was comfortably gathered by Young on 57 minutes, while Hector sliced over from 20 yards at the other end.
Potts’ low edge-of-the-box drive was also kept out by Young after Blair had burst down the left flank and then ran diagonally towards the visitors’ goal.
On 79 minutes, former West Texas A&M University striker Everson could not direct Oyebanjo’s corner on target at the near post.
Craig Reid then missed the final opportunity of the afternoon when he blasted narrowly over from 15 yards. Shortly afterwards, courtesy of a Pullman coach laid on by their hosts, the Shots were on their way back to Hampshire with a point.
Michael Ingham 7
Largely unemployed, but generally dealt well with back passes he received.
Dan Parslow 7
Comfortable defensively and also got forward to deliver crosses when possible.
Chris Smith 8
STAR MAN – dominant at the back and attacked the ball at every opportunity.
David McGurk 7
Swept up well when required on a fairly straightforward afternoon.
Jamal Fyfield 6
Lucky not to be punished for a couple of sloppy moments, but solid otherwise.
Michael Potts 6
Fought hard to keep possession, but forced to turn backwards too many times.
Scott Kerr 6
Probed away for his team, but ran out of targets to pass to.
Paddy McLaughlin 6
Replaced early in the game again after being a little peripheral.
Matty Blair 7
Caused problems with his direct running and lacked nothing in effort.
Jason Walker 6
Won countless free-kicks for his team, but passes went astray at times.
Jamie Reed 6
Laboured for long periods and disappointed with several crossing chances.
Subs: Lanre Oyebanjo 6 (for McLaughlin, 64), Ben Everson (for Reed, 71). Not used: Paul Musselwhite, Lee Bullock, John McReady, Jon Challinor, Tom Allan.
Jamie Young, Ben Herd, Troy Brown, Sonny Bradley, Anthony Tonkin, Kieron Cadogan (Aaron Morris, 90), Danny Rose, Michael Hector, Peter Vincenti, Craig Reid (Oliver Risser, 88), Dani Lopez (Michael Rankine, 78). Subs not used: Anthony McNamee, Adam Mekki, Glenn Morris, Harry Cooksley.
Star man: Troy Brown – kept things tight at the back for the visitors.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).
Rating: 7/10 – sensible on the whole and gave both sides little cause for complaint.
Booked: McGurk 26, Cadogan 85.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 2,757 (120 from Aldershot).
Shots on target: City 3, Aldershot 1.
Shots off target: City 3, Aldershot 5.
Corners: City 6, Aldershot 3.
Fouls conceded: City 10, Aldershot 13.
Offsides: City 4, Aldershot 1.