THEY might be banging in the goals but Lanre Oyebanjo believes in-form York City strikers Wes Fletcher, Ryan Bowman and Ryan Jarvis are helping keep them out at the other end too.
Fletcher (three) and Bowman (two) have scored five times as striking partners during the Minstermen’s last two games and Jarvis netted the only goal when City defeated Morecambe at Bootham Crescent on New Year’s Day.
A run of three consecutive victories has also seen the Minstermen concede just one goal and right-back Oyebanjo, right, reckons Fletcher, Bowman and Jarvis have played influential roles in achieving that statistic.
He said: “As a defender, it’s a nice feeling to know that, if we keep the back door shut, the strikers can get a goal or two, because it’s all about everyone doing their jobs. But I am not sure that they also get the credit they deserve for the amount of pressing and defending they do.
“We notice it a lot as defenders because we don’t like it when players do that to us.
“A lot of balls out from the back get stopped by them so that they don’t even get to us or their pressure means the ball to the opposition’s forwards is harder to control, which makes it easier for us too.
“Defending starts from the front and, whoever is up there, works hard.”
The Minstermen’s goals-against column has certainly improved considerably since their three previous meetings with Bristol Rovers this term.
On each occasion – an away league match and two FA Cup ties – Nigel Worthington’s men conceded three times with the first and last game against the Pirates bookending a 16-game run in which the side let in 32 goals.Since the 3-2 Cup replay defeat at Bootham Crescent, though, only seven goals have been shipped in ten matches and, on the reasons for that reversal in fortunes, Oyebanjo added: “We were scoring goals and conceding straight away before, which is never good and very frustrating as a defender.
“But we seem to have stopped that and I don’t think that’s just been down to the back four.
“The whole team have been defending well and pressing up the pitch. We’ve also had a rub of the green a bit, which we might not have been getting before.
“It’s been a collective effort and just that extra yard in terms of upping the tempo might have been the difference.”
Oyebanjo has been restored to his favoured full-back position, having spent a stint further forward on the flank while on-loan Burnley defender Luke O’Neill filled his normal role.
But the former Republic of Ireland under-21 international will not be taking his starting place for granted during the remainder of the season.
“It’s nice to be back in my preferred position but I am very privileged to be a professional and will play wherever the gaffer wants me to,” he reasoned.
“In any profession, you get competition, and I know that, if I don’t perform, the gaffer will pick somebody else or bring somebody else in.”
The former Histon defender, along with Dan Parslow, Chris Smith and Michael Ingham, is one of only four players who remain at the club from the 16-man squad that secured promotion from the Conference in 2012 at Wembley.
Ashley Chambers – a goalscorer in that play-off final – moved on to Cambridge United last week, while the likes of Jamal Fyfield and Craig Clay also departed for fellow Conference Premier clubs Grimsby and Halifax respectively.
On the ever-changing make-up of the Minstermen squad, the Hackney-born 23-year-old, who himself is out of contract this summer when he would be entitled to a free transfer, said: “It’s been a shame to see players leave but that’s football. People move on. It’s the nature of the game at our level. They have done good things for the football club but everybody needs to be playing so all the best to them.”