NIGEL Worthington’s York City side equalled an inauspicious club record against Southend United after failing to score for a fourth successive home game.
This term’s team joined four others in the Bootham Crescent history books with Gary Mills’ promoted Conference play-off winners the most recent to suffer a similar six-hour sequence last season.
Martin Foyle, Neil Thompson and Tom Johnston also strung together a quartet of consecutive goal-shy performances in North Yorkshire in 2009, 1999 and 1972 respectively.
Saturday’s result, meanwhile, represented the sixth 0-0 stalemate on their own soil this campaign for Worthington’s players and fifth in the last eight encounters at home.
In total, the Minstermen have now only scored in eight of their 19 fixtures at Bootham Crescent with 11 of their 15 home goals in Sky Bet League Two during 2013/14 having been scored in just three matches against Portsmouth, Scunthorpe and Dagenham.
A glance at Saturday’s team sheet did not bode too well for an upturn in striking fortunes ahead of kick off.
The starting XI had only managed three goals all season in home games with Ryan Bowman (two) and Josh Carson (one) the marksmen.
Without Wes Fletcher, a contributor of seven goals in front of his own fans throughout the campaign, City carried a minimal attacking threat during the 90 minutes, only mustering four shots just seven days after romping to a 4-0 win at Plymouth.
As Worthington correctly identified afterwards, a lack of home goals has been the only real blemish during the Minstermen’s leap up the League Two standings since the turn of the year.
The City boss has a reliable track record, however, for finding solutions to problems during his Minstermen tenure and will be working hard on ways to improve his team’s potency during the final seven home matches of the season.
Worthington has certainly tightened up matters at the back since a slip-shod start to the campaign when conceding goals from set-pieces was a regular cause for concern during the opening three months.
On-loan Charlton shot-stopper Nick Pope kept his third straight clean sheet against Southend and, in front of him, centre-backs Keith Lowe and John McCombe again proved combative adversaries for another set of well-shackled opponents.
Chances were at a premium at both ends of the pitch on Saturday with Pope and fellow net-minder Daniel Bentley only required to make a couple of saves apiece.
Bentley dived low to his left to keep out a tame 20-yard Bowman effort on 11 minutes and Michael Coulson, playing as his central striking partner, saw a shot deflect wide off Will Atkinson moments later following positive play by skipper Russell Penn.
On 28 minutes, a sliding Will Hayhurst managed to direct his volley on target as the ball dropped out of the sky eight yards from the Shrimpers’ goal but Bentley was equal to the attempt at his near post.
Southend could have easily forged ahead, however, with their first forward raid of the game on the half-hour mark.
Top scorer Kevan Hurst burst through the left channel to sprint on to a Michael Timlin through ball but then flashed his subsequent shot across the face of City’s goal.
Perhaps the nearest either team came to making the breakthrough, though, came in bizarre circumstances during first-half stoppage time.
A mix-up between Lanre Oyebanjo and Pope on the edge of the penalty box saw the City ’keeper scramble back towards goal to prevent his team-mate’s miscued clearance from spinning inside his left-hand upright.
Oyebanjo went on to have the hosts’ last shot of the match on 50 minutes when he fired over from 20 yards with his left foot.
For a ten-minute spell around the hour mark, Southend then enjoyed their most threatening passage of the game without unduly troubling Pope.
In between, a couple of off-target Barry Corr headers from right-wing John White crosses, midfielder Ryan Leonard drove wide from 30 yards.
Lively substitute Jack Payne then fired a low attempt at Pope after collecting Hurst’s crossfield pass while Lowe twice snuffed out Corr efforts as the Southend striker prepared to shoot at goal.
Atkinson also hit the roof of the David Longhurst Stand and a 20-minute impasse ensued before Leonard’s header, following another White centre, only required a routine injury-time save from Pope.
The deadlock meant the Minstermen moved only one 0-0 home draw away from equalling another club record – the most goalless stalemates in a single season, set in 1972/73.
Nick Pope 7
His impressive reach saw him claim a succession of high balls into his penalty box.
Lanre Oyebanjo 7
Carried the game to Southend with positive raids down the right flank.
Keith Lowe 8
STAR MAN – always alert to any visiting threat and barely put a foot wrong all afternoon.
John McCombe 7
Did not look troubled throughout and cleared his lines effectively when required.
Ben Davies 7
Did a good containing job on the skilful Hurst and distributed well down the line.
Josh Carson 6
Industrious but found a heavy, bobbly pitch difficult to master at times and did not threaten in an attacking sense.
Russell Penn 7
Spurred his team on from the middle of the park, especially with positive forward surges during the early exchanges.
Adam Reed 6
Struggled to find space in a congested central area and his creative ability was rarely in evidence.
Will Hayhurst 6
Forced Bentley into his hardest save but drifted out of the action for periods.
Ryan Bowman 6
Scrapped away in attack with little reward prior to his second-half withdrawal.
Michael Coulson 6
Buffeted by the Southend back four but battled to make his presence felt and showed moments of quality.
Subs: Ryan Jarvis (for Bowman, 71), Chris Dickinson (for Coulson, 90). Not used: David McGurk, Tom Platt, Michael Ingham, Sander Puri, Lewis Montrose.
Daniel Bentley, John White, Adam Thompson, Cian Bolger (Mark Phillips, 79), Ben Coker, Kevan Hurst, Michael Timlin (Jack Payne, 56), Will Atkinson, Ryan Leonard, Anthony Straker (Marc Laird, 75), Barry Corr. Subs not used: Paul Smith, Freddie Eastwood, Jason Williams, Bedsente Gomis.
Star man: White – provided good deliveries into City’s box.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan).
Rating: 7/10 – reasonable aside from the odd puzzling free-kick decision.
Booked: Bowman 31, Hayhurst 54, Corr 86.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 3,628 (410 from Southend).
Shots on target: City 2, Southend 2.
Shots off target: City 2, Southend 6.
Corners: City 4, Southend 6.
Fouls conceded: City 12, Southend 9.
Offsides: City 2, Southend 3.