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Match report: York City 0, Oxford United 0 - Sky Bet League Two
York City midfielder Lewis Montrose steals in at the far post but narrowly fails to make a connection with a free-kick from Josh Carson as Oxford United survive a late scare in Saturday’s 0-0 Sky Bet League Two draw
WITH eight defeats apiece, York City are as difficult to beat as big-spending Sky Bet League Two promotion contenders Fleetwood Town this season.
The two clubs are separated by 17 places in the current standings, however, with Fleetwood just four points behind leaders Chesterfield and the Minstermen now only one above the relegation zone.
That statistic starkly illustrates the importance of converting draws into victories with the Minstermen sharing the spoils on Saturday for a seventh time during a nine-game run without a win.
Taken in isolation, a goalless draw against Oxford – the only team in English football’s top five divisions not to be beaten on their league travels this term – was an encouraging result and the manner in which Nigel Worthington’s men held firm during the latter stages as they faced a barrage of balls into their box from conceded free-kicks and long throws demonstrated the progress that has been made on that front.
David McGurk and Keith Lowe have now started four games together in the centre of defence and the Minstermen have conceded only one goal in that time.
The experienced defenders largely policed old nemesis James Constable and equally powerful former Premier League striker Dave Kitson and, with Oxford centre-backs Jake Wright and Johnny Mullins, full-back David Hunt and midfielder Asa Hall no shrinking violets either, the hosts coped well against the aerial challenge posed by Chris Wilder’s men.
But, at the other end of the pitch, the Minstermen went a fourth consecutive game without getting a player on the scoresheet.
Ryan Jarvis squandered the best chance of the game when he fired straight at Ryan Clarke with only the U’s ’keeper to beat, meaning City’s leading marksman has failed to net in eight league outings and strike partner Wes Fletcher has notched only once in nine.
At home, meanwhile, the team have only scored in five of their dozen Bootham Crescent contests this season following Saturday’s stalemate.
During a shot-shy opening period, City failed to test Clarke once while Constable represented the only real threat for Oxford.
The U’s all-time second top scorer missed the target with two early long-range attempts, hoisting the second over the David Longhurst Stand.
Jarvis and Fletcher, meanwhile, both slashed at chances inside the six-yard box after Josh Carson’s corner had not been dealt with at the near post by the visitors.
Just past the half-hour mark, Carson flashed a 15-yard strike wide after being given a clear sight of the away goal.
Oxford also defended well to block further goalbound efforts from Carson and Lewis Montrose while Constable forced the first save of the afternoon on 40 minutes but his 25-yard shot lacked the direction to trouble on-loan Wolves ’keeper Aaron McCarey.
The hosts waited until the 60th minute to test Clarke but the opportunity possibly provided the game’s defining moment.
Jarvis was played clear through by Fletcher but, as Clarke advanced off his line to meet him, the former Torquay striker could only drill a low drive against the Oxford shot-stopper’s left leg.
At the other end, Kitson met Hunt’s free-kick with a firm header that McCarey gathered at the second attempt with the ex-Reading forward ready to pounce on the loose ball.
Constable’s low 15-yard drive was also spilled by McCarey but Luke O’Neill went on to clear the danger.
Early in the second half, a subdued Ryan Brobbel had been replaced by Michael Coulson and the latter wasted no time announcing his arrival with a rising 30-yard effort that warmed Clarke’s hands.
But Oxford began to get on top, thereafter, with McCarey saving an edge-of-the-box Hall drive low to his left and an off-balance Constable slicing into the away end.
Danny Rose’s long-range half- volley also drifted over before Constable sidestepped a McGurk challenge but fired at the on-loan City shot-stopper from 12 yards.
Worthington’s men did manage a late riposte and Montrose was inches away from making contact with an inswinging Carson free-kick.
In stoppage time, substitute Ashley Chambers then sprinted on to a Tom Platt through ball.
A moment’s hesitation from Chambers, though, meant he could only prod the ball into Clarke’s chest after the Oxford ’keeper had charged out to snuff out the danger.
The final outcome unarguably represented a good point for City but every endeavour must now be made to follow it up with at least one win from the next two trips to fellow strugglers Accrington Stanley and Bury.
It remains fresh in the mind that last season’s team were not defeated by eventual champions Gillingham or runners-up Rotherham, but that would have been of little consequence or consolation had the final day battle against relegation been lost in Dagenham.
York City 0, Oxford United 0
Aaron McCarey 7
Spilled a couple of shots that he might have held but in the right positions to make those stops.
Luke O’Neill 7
Bright at the start and, while caught out a couple of times, his confidence on the ball continues to be a useful attacking tool.
Keith Lowe 8
STAR MAN – no-nonsense approach throughout and unfairly booked on the one occasion he played himself into trouble.
David McGurk 7
Blocked, tackled and intercepted in his usual manner during a physical contest against Constable and Kitson.
Ben Davies 7
Looked a little uncertain early on but recovered to stop several raids down the left flank.
Josh Carson 7
Did not tire of making lung-busting runs down the wing and his set-pieces were their customary threat.
Lewis Montrose 6
Kept his position in front of the back four but found it hard to influence proceedings in the second half.
Tom Platt 6
Quiet return to the starting line-up but put in some good honest work in the middle of the park.
Ryan Brobbel 6
Only made a couple of his trademark runs down the left wing before being replaced early in the second half.
Ryan Jarvis 6
Largely contained by Oxford’s uncompromising back line but, when he did escape, failed to take his chance to win the game.
Wes Fletcher 6
Worked hard but found the going tough and did not manage a shot on goal in a frustrating 90 minutes.
Subs: Michael Coulson 7 – busy (for Brobbel, 59), Ashley Chambers (for Jarvis, 80). Not used: Craig Clay, Sander Puri, Lanre Oyebanjo, Jamal Fyfield, Michael Ingham.
Ryan Clarke, David Hunt, Jake Wright, Johnny Mullins, Tom Newey, Ryan Williams (Deane Smalley, 77), Danny Rose, Asa Hall, Josh Ruffels (Sean Rigg, 56), Dave Kitson, James Constable. Subs not used: Michael Raynes, Scott Davies, Tyrone Marsh, Max Crocombe, Sam Long.
Star man: Wright – won most of his contests in the air and on the deck.
Referee: Keith Hill (Royston).
Rating: 5/10 – incurred wrath of home fans and his cautions were erratic.
Booked: Lowe 45, Montrose 66, Davies 72, Wright 88.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 3,526 (455 from Oxford).
Shots on target: City 2, Oxford 6.
Shots off target: City 1, Oxford 5.
Corners: City 6, Oxford 2.
Fouls conceded: City 14, Oxford 11.
Offsides: City 1, Oxford 2.
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