Match report: York City 1, Bury 0
YORK City kept their 21st clean sheet of the season to set a new club record and move to within one win of snaring a play-off place.
Never in the club’s 92-year history has a side managed more shut-outs during a league programme of fixtures following yesterday’s 1-0 home win over Bury.
What also sets Nigel Worthington’s players apart from the previous joint-record holders - Denis Smith’s 1983/84 champions and the 1994 and 2007 play-off semi-final sides managed respectively by Alan Little and Billy McEwan - is this term’s team struggled desperately to keep opposing teams at bay during the first three-and-a-half months of the season.
A run of only three clean sheets in the opening 21 games consequently prompted Worthington to take action and the results have been little short of phenomenal.
Incredibly, since Keith Lowe and John McCombe have been paired together in the centre of defence, on-loan Charlton shot-stopper Nick Pope has not conceded a single goal from open play during 15 undefeated matches and more than 23 hours of football.
Furthermore, City have only shipped three times in that time - twice from corners and once from a free kick.
Against Bury, there was almost an inevitability about what followed once Lowe had also made his presence felt at the other end of the pitch with his first goal for the club on five minutes.
City are, simply, not the side you want to concede an early goal against in their current guise and, even though the hosts did not muster a single goal attempt in the final 35 minutes, Bury could not conjure a way back into the game and keep alive their faint hopes of a top-seven finish.
Worthington, rightly, credited the whole team afterwards for contributing to a defensive masterclass.
Indeed, when Pope was not clutching balls out of the air from corners in his customary manner, attacking targetman Calvin Andrew was leaping highest to head them away from inside his own six-yard box.
Fellow striker Michael Coulson, meanwhile, worked manfully to chase down the ball and a recalled Lewis Montrose lined up alongside skipper Russell Penn to shut down space in midfield.
Ever-reliable full-backs Lanre Oyebanjo and Ben Davies also snuffed out any threat on the flanks and, when Will Hayhurst was struggling a little to hold his own against Bury’s brute force further up the wing, Worthington showed no hesitation in replacing him with the more combative Adam Reed at the interval.
At one point, Bury even had four centre fowards on the pitch - with substitutes Danny Rose and Clive Platt joining Hallam Hope and Daniel Nardiello - as their attempts to breach City’s back line grew increasingly desperate.
After a seemingly-frustrated Nardiello was then sent off on 81 minutes for a second bookable offence on Davies, Bury still pressed for an equaliser and centre-back Nathan Cameron was thrown upfield as an emergency striker but City still held firm.
Earlier, Lowe made the decisive breakthrough when he swept Hayhurst’s lowly-driven corner kick into Brian Jensen’s bottom righthand corner from seven yards.
On 13 minutes, Andrew also went close to opening his City account but his spectacular 30-yard drive produced a flying save from Jensen.
At the other end, McCombe then kicked a goalbound Hallam Hope effort off the line after the on-loan Manchester City striker had rounded Pope, having burst through on goal following weak play from Hayhurst on the halfway line.
Pablo Mills was also allowed to travel upfield before picking out Hope’s run through the right channel but, with Pope rushing out to meet him, the 20-year-old forward hooked his shot wide.
In between, Andrew had dragged another opportunity across the face of goal for City after Pope’s long forward punt.
Seconds into the restart, Pope dived low to his left to push away Danny Mayor’s well-struck, 25-yard drive.
But McCombe might have doubled the Minstermen’s advantage on 51 minutes when the ball fell to his feet at the back post from Ryan Brobbel’s corner but he lifted his shot over from seven yards.
Moments later, McCombe did have the ball in the net but he was flagged offside, having found an empty goal after Andrew had outjumped Jensen to flick on Davies’ free kick into the penalty box.
Tom Soares blazed over the visitors’ best chance of the afternoon on 58 minutes after being given a clear sight of Pope’s goal from eight yards.
Following an ambitious overhead kick that bounced wide from Reed on the hour mark, City were then pinned back in their own half for long periods.
The visitors were still limited to hopeful attempts, however, before Nardiello’s dismissal for clattering into Davies heralded one final push for a point.
On 85 minutes, Chris Hussey’s curling free kick was pushed out by Pope and Hope went on to head into the City keeper’s hands.
Hussey also forced another save from a free kick and Rose had three late opportunities.
The on-loan Barnsley forward shot across the face of goal from 15 yards, called Pope into action at his near post and, then, in the sixth minute of stoppage time volleyed wide of the 22-year-old shot-stopper’s near post.
Seconds later, City’s supporters were bouncing along to “Rocking All Over The World” and, without a loss now since the end of January, their team needs only to maintain that status quo to claim that topseven finish.
York City 1 (Lowe 5), Bury 0
Nick Pope: stayed focused until the final whistle to safeguard another clean sheet 7
Lanre Oyebanjo: kept things simple at the back and reserved in his attacking inclinations 8
Ben Davies: STAR MAN - rarely beaten making countless tackles, blocks and interceptions 8
Keith Lowe: neat finish for his first City goal and scrapped for everything at the back 8
John McCombe: a real immoveable object, particularly in the first half. 8
Ryan Brobbel: made a couple of promising runs but dispossessed a little easily on occasions 7
Russell Penn: hustled and bustled from the first whistle and never shirked a single challenge 8
Lewis Montrose: stretched out a long leg to nick possession and stayed disciplined 8
Will Hayhurst: out-muscled in spells but continues to provide quality dead-ball deliveries 7
Michael Coulson: harried and chased all afternoon as he fed off scraps of service 7
Calvin Andrew: won his headers at both ends of the pitch, most notably in own six-yard box 8
Subs: Adam Reed 7 – committed (for Hayhurst, 46), Ryan Bowman (for Coulson, 90).
Subs not used: Michael Ingham, Ryan Jarvis, Tom Allan, David McGurk, Tom Platt.
Brian Jensen, Craig Jones, Pablo Mills (Nathan Cameron, 90), Jim McNulty, Chris Hussey, Danny Mayor, Chris Sedgwick (Danny Rose, 59), Andrew Tutte (Clive Platt, 74), Tom Soares, Hallam Hope, Daniel Nardiello. Subs not used: Andrew Procter, Tommy Miller, Reice Charles-Cook, Temitope Obadeyi.
Star man: McNulty – composed at the back Booked: Andrew 41, Mills 63, Nardiello 72, McCombe 89.
Sent off: Nardiello 81.
Attendance: 5,225 (976 from Bury)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Sunderland) rating: 6/10 – made some oversights
Shots on target: City 2, Bury 7
Shots off target: City 5, Bury 6
Corners: City 5, Bury 9
Fouls conceded: City 16, Bury 11
Offsides: City 3, Bury 2
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