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Match report: York City 0 Rochdale 0 - Sky Bet League Two
York City's Ashley Chambers battles with Rochdale defender Rhys Bennett on a rare start up front for York City
THERE were few shrinking violets in a real War of the Roses that saw York City fight out a 0-0 draw against cross-Pennine rivals Rochdale.
Nigel Worthington’s battle-hardened hosts, who were men down due to a mixture of suspensions, long-term injuries and warm-up withdrawals, matched their high-flying visitors throughout a keenly-contested encounter.
But a series of brave blocks and resolute defending by an equally determined visiting team, deprived of their first-choice centre-backs, left City reflecting on a second consecutive goalless draw at the final whistle and a record of only one win from their last 12 matches at the final whistle.
Few could argue, however, with Worthington’s assertion afterwards that the Minstermen’s recent points haul does not provide an accurate reflection of the team’s performance levels.
Back-to-back clean sheets, following ten matches without a shut-out, suggest the defensive frailties that were undermining the team’s progress might have now been resolved with on-loan signing Keith Lowe and long-servant David McGurk certainly forging an intelligent and assured centre-back understanding.
Having hopefully addressed that matter successfully, perhaps Worthington can now refocus on encouraging his side to attack with the same enterprise and excitement that saw them averaging three goals a game at the end of October and beginning of November.
Ryan Bowman’s ban and a pre-match hamstring injury to fellow striker Wes Fletcher did not help in that respect.
But Ryan Brobbel, who had missed out in the previous two matches due to restrictions on the number of loan players that can be named in any matchday squad, was perhaps unfortunate to be only recalled to the bench against Rochdale after Elliott Whitehouse’s suspension had brought him back into contention.
City have only won one game without Brobbel in the starting line-up – the opening day triumph over Northampton prior to his arrival in North Yorkshire at the end of August.
His dynamism and positivity certainly gives the team attacking impetus from wide areas, as witnessed in the thumping victories over Portsmouth (4-2) and Scunthorpe (4-1) this term.
He also provides an inventiveness that it is possibly unfair to expect from makeshift winger and converted right-back Lanre Oyebanjo whose industry reaped little attacking reward against Rochdale before his 66th-minute replacement by Brobbel.
Tom Platt, while harrying well, also looked less likely to threaten in the final third than the absent Whitehouse.
In a match of few openings with defences in the ascendancy, the Minstermen might have forged in front after only 35 seconds when Josh Carson hared down the left flank and stood the ball up at the far post for Ryan Jarvis, but his downward header lacked both the required direction and power to beat visiting ’keeper Josh Lillis.
Jarvis also prodded wide from four yards after a positive run through the left channel by Ashley Chambers, who started as a centre forward after Fletcher pulled up prior to kick-off.
On seven minutes, however, Graham Cummins, Rochdale’s lone striker in a conservative 5-4-1 formation, flashed a good opportunity wide from ten yards and, moments later, Andrew Tutte fired a half-volley over from the edge of the box.
With both teams giving no quarter, the next chance of the half then came in stoppage time when on-loan Wolves ’keeper Aaron McCarey was called into rare action, diving low to his right to prevent Tutte’s 20-yard attempt sneaking inside his near post.
Moments after the restart, City saw appeals for a penalty fall on deaf ears after Jarvis tangled with Michael Rose as he tried to reach Carson’s cross from the left wing.
Keith Lowe also glanced wide with his head from Luke O’Neill’s corner on the hour and Carson’s speculative 30-yard strike was safely gathered by Lillis.
A couple of O’Neill efforts went on to hit the roof of the David Longhurst Stand while, in between on 67 minutes, Ian Henderson drove over from the edge of the box with the visitors’ first shot of the second period.
The best save of the match then saw Lillis’ outstretched left leg keep out Jarvis’ smart ten-yard shot on the turn before Henderson produced the game’s worst miss on 83 minutes.
Bursting through the left channel after Ben Davies had failed to stop Lee Molyneux in his tracks, Henderson curled wide of McCarey’s left-hand upright ten yards from goal.
Scott Hogan also wrapped his foot around a 20-yard effort that flashed wide before City sub Michael Coulson could have won the points in the second minute of added-on time.
An O’Neill flag kick fell to Coulson’s feet eight yards from goal but the last of umpteen blocks made by the visitors ensured honours ended even.
Aaron McCarey 7
Enjoyed the quietest afternoon of any of City’s four ’keepers in the last five matches.
Luke O’Neill 8
Makes the game look easy at this level, although might need to be wary of over-confidence.
Keith Lowe 8
Always in position to sweep up any danger and offered another calm and experienced head at the back.
David McGurk 8
STAR MAN – gave the kind of imperious display City fans have come to expect and his reading of the game was faultless.
Ben Davies 7
Followed a strong first half with a couple of uncertain moments after the interval, but generally solid.
Lanre Oyebanjo 6
Bags of industry and will always win headers from crosses to the far post, but looked a little lost in the advanced role.
Tom Platt 7
Harassed and looked to win possession for the team, but his best work was all done a long way from the opposition’s goal.
Lewis Montrose 7
Kept things straightforward in front of the back four without causing too much concern for Rochdale in the final third.
Josh Carson 7
On the receiving end of some rough treatment handed out to him by the visitors but remained undeterred throughout.
Ryan Jarvis 7
Persistent and always looked the hosts’ biggest goal threat, and unlucky not to beat Lillis on 79 minutes.
Ashley Chambers 6
Given a rare chance through the middle of the pitch, but failed to muster a shot on goal.
Subs: Ryan Brobbel 6 (for Oyebanjo, 66), Michael Coulson (for Chambers, 77). Not used: Craig Clay, Sander Puri, Chris Dickinson, Cameron Murray, Tom Chamberlain.
Josh Lillis, Joe Rafferty, Rhys Bennett, Ashley Eastham, Michael Rose, Matty Done (Lee Molyneux, 80), Ian Henderson, Andrew Tutte (Gary Dicker, 70), Matty Lund, Scott Hogan, Graham Cummins. Subs not used: Peter Cavanagh, Peter Vincenti, Robbie Thomson, Jamie Allen, Joe Bunney.
Star man: Bennett – defended with determination and strong in the air.
Referee: Andy Davies (Southampton).
Rating: 6/10 – erratic on occasions but no major mistakes.
Booked: Jarvis 18, Lowe 43, Tutte 65, Done 76, Rose 84, O’Neill 89.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 3,471 (624 from Rochdale).
Shots on target: City 3, Rochdale 2.
Shots off target: City 4, Rochdale 6.
Corners: City 12, Rochdale 3.
Fouls conceded: City 12, Rochdale 12.
Offsides: City 0, Rochdale 1.
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