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Match report: Wycombe 1, York City 1
PERHAPS fittingly for a team wearing rainbow-coloured laces for the first time, York City enjoyed their brightest performance of the season at in-form Wycombe Wanderers.
With six defeats from their previous seven games, City fans have repeatedly seen their pre-season hopes rained upon during recent weeks.
But Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Adams Park offered a little ray of sunlight for any supporters of a gloomy disposition.
The Minstermen, with their unusual boot accessories aimed at tackling homophobia in football, made a second, somewhat more convincing stand with a resolute display against opponents who had won their last four fixtures.
In stark contrast, Nigel Worthington’s team had racked up the same number of consecutive defeats but this match offered the strongest encouragement yet that the former Northern Ireland manager is close to reversing the team’s fortunes in a similar manner to his revival of last season’s side in time to escape relegation.
There was also enough evidence in Buckinghamshire to suggest he can do that playing 4-4-2 football.
Ryan Brobbel’s purposeful and tricky runs down the left worked in tandem with the hard-working tenacity of Josh Carson on the opposite wing to give the Minstermen a welcome twin attacking threat down the sides at Wycombe.
Up front, Ryan Jarvis was also an effective foil for both Wes Fletcher and early second-half substitute Ryan Bowman, while on-loan Sheffield United teenager Elliott Whitehouse grew in confidence alongside Lewis Montrose in the visitors’ engine-room the longer the game went on.
Witnessing the likes of youngsters Whitehouse, Brobbel and Carson express themselves with freedom, not fear, was particularly pleasing and should bode well for this weekend’s mouth-watering home clash with fallen giants Portsmouth. The only negative, though, was a familiar one.
For the third time already this season, the Minstermen conceded a goal within five minutes of netting themselves.
David McGurk headed the visitors in front just past the hour mark only for Dean Morgan to level following the next attack of the game.
At least on this occasion though, unlike against Exeter and Mansfield, Worthington’s team did not turn a winning position into a losing one and it was probably always inevitable their high-flying hosts would respond strongly to falling behind.
Earlier, City had shaded a first half during which Michael Ingham was not required to make a single save.
Right-backs Marvin McCoy and Lanre Oyebanjo had their respective team’s first noteworthy efforts. The former shot across Ingham’s goal from 20 yards while Oyebanjo sent a longer-range and more spectacular drive whistling narrowly over at the other end.
On 39 minutes, home shot-stopper Matt Ingram had his hands warmed by a rising Fletcher attempt following good work from Brobbel.
After Sam Wood brushed the top of Ingham’s netting from distance, Brobbel then raided down the left before delivering a teasing low centre retrieved at the far post by Carson, who forced Ingram into a smart near-post save.
At the start of the second half, Ben Davies and Brobbel set-pieces led to headed chances that Fletcher and Dan Parslow could not direct under the crossbar.
Within seconds of being hailed from the bench, Bowman’s low shot was kept out to his left by Ingram after the former Hereford striker had been given a clear sight of goal ten yards out following good work by Brobbel and Jarvis.
McGurk, though, was more clinical when he claimed his first goal since December 2011 and only his sixth during ten seasons as a Minsterman.
The 30-year-old defender rose majestically to powerfully plant an eight-yard header into Ingram’s bottom right-hand corner following Brobbel’s perfectly-flighted free-kick from the left.
But City’s joy was short-lived and, despite some last-ditch defending by McGurk during a penalty-box scramble, Matt McClure got an eight-yard shot away that rebounded off Ingham’s left-hand upright straight to Morgan, who completed the formality of tapping into an unguarded net from inches.
After Whitehouse blazed over from 12 yards having been teed up by Parslow from Carson’s corner, Ingham was then at full stretch to tip over a rasping 30-yard drive from on-loan Sunderland midfielder Billy Knott.
The City ’keeper was also equal to substitute Jo Kuffour’s rising shot from an unfavourable angle as the visitors avoided kicking off a League season with four successive away defeats for the first time since 1987 when Bobby Saxton's side went on to lose their first five fixtures on the road in the old Third Division.
Wycombe 1 (Morgan 69), York City 1 (McGurk 64)
Michael Ingham 8
Had little to do for so long but played an important role in preserving a point as Wycombe rallied late on.
Lanre Oyebanjo 8
Always willing to embark on his trademark, lung-busting runs forward and not found wanting defensively.
Daniel Parslow 8
Gave no quarter at the back and also looked a threat at attacking set-pieces.
David McGurk 8
Decision-making was pretty much spot on and his header was probably the best he has scored in his City career.
Ben Davies 8
Worked hard to keep Wycombe at bay but did not get much chance to contribute in an attacking sense.
Josh Carson 8
Travelled positively with the ball whenever he got the chance and worked tirelessly despite lack of games this season Lewis Montrose 7 Displayed strong positional sense and stayed disciplined, while others provided more threat going forward.
Elliott Whitehouse 8
Quiet before the break but made some good choices in possession during an encouraging second-half display.
Ryan Brobbel 9
STAR MAN – Tormented and teased Wycombe down the left flank and provided real quality with his dead-ball deliveries.
Wes Fletcher 7
Showed a willingness to run the channels before making way early in the second half for Bowman.
Ryan Jarvis 8
Nice touches, flicks and feints but also prepared to do the dirty work for the benefit of his fellow forwards.
Subs: Ryan Bowman 7 – enthusiastic (for Fletcher, 56), Ashley Chambers (for Brobbel, 84), Sander Puri (for Carson, 90). Subs not used: Chris Kettings, Chris Smith, Tom Platt, George Taft.
Matt Ingram, Marvin McCoy, Leon Johnson, Gary Doherty, Kortney Hause, Max Kretzschmar, Billy Knott (Matt Bloomfield, 90), Stuart Lewis, Sam Wood, Dean Morgan (Junior Morais, 86), Matt McClure (Jo Kuffour, 77). Subs not used: Lee Harrison, Charles Dunne, Anthony Stewart, Nick Arnold.
Star man: Knott – very busy and positive in his midfield work.
Referee: Michael Bull (Chelmsford).
Rating: 7/10 – some questionable free-kick decisions but otherwise reasonable.
Booked: Wood 30, Morgan 33, Johnson 51, Carson 52, Doherty 81.
Attendance: 4,015 (260 from City).
Shots on target: Wycombe 4, City 5.
Shots off target: Wycombe 3, City 4.
Corners: Wycombe 6, City 7.
Fouls conceded: Wycombe 19, City 17.
Offsides: Wycombe 2, City 3.
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