YORK City’s unusual start to the season is beginning to draw attention from Football League record compilers.
Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate with Wycombe means City have now shared the spoils in each of their first five league fixtures and that is just one match short of equalling the longest sequence at the beginning of any single campaign during the competition’s 126-year history.
That benchmark is shared by the 1973/74 Stockport side and Leicester City’s class of ’76/77 but the Minstermen’s current run is sufficiently abnormal to have been matched just seven times since the League’s formation in 1888.
Furthermore, Sheffield United were the last team to open up with a quintet of draws back in 2001, meaning City are only the second club to do so this millennium.
For anybody looking for reasons as to why Nigel Worthington’s men have emulated the Blades, then the lack of a cutting edge has to be high on the list of possible explanations.
The Minstermen have managed 75 shots this term, compared to 40 from their opponents, creating the greater number of chances in all six of their league and cup fixtures so far.
During their latest outing, the hosts had 17 goal attempts versus Wycombe’s six but, in a pattern familiar to City fans for many months, never looked like converting that territorial superiority into a proportional number of goals.
Worthington’s team have only managed to score more than a single goal twice in their last 17 competitive matches.
In fact, during 22 of their 30 fixtures since the start of 2014, City have only scored one goal or less.
Worthington has cited poor decision making as a factor behind his side’s lack of potency and that was evident on Saturday when, sometimes, an extra touch and, on other occasions, a rushed finish saw a host of promising openings bear no fruit.
In attack, Michael Coulson has now failed to net in his last nine matches and only managed to score once from open play in 16 outings.
For all his qualities, a question mark remains over Coulson’s ability to contribute the bread-and-butter goals that characterise any successful centre forward.
Most of his good work continues to take place outside the 18-yard box and a move back to the flanks might be imminent, unless he can prove capable of running in behind defences to take one-on-one opportunities and of getting on the end of crosses, rather than delivering them.
Jake Hyde – his striking partner for the last four fixtures – has more of a goalscoring pedigree but, having netted twice in his first couple of City appearances, he has now laboured and been replaced by 16-year-old rookie Ben Hirst in back-to-back matches.
With City handicapped by their profligacy, there remains an enormous emphasis on the defence’s ability to keep a clean sheet, which was the cornerstone of last term’s play-off push.
John McCombe’s recall assisted on that front as the Minstermen managed their first shut-out of the new campaign although, despite Wycombe’s limited sights of the home goal, visiting strikers Steven Craig and Paul Hayes had excellent second-half chances to claim maximum points.
Earlier, in the third minute, Hayes tried his luck with Wanderers’ only first-half shot – an audacious 35-yard effort that sailed over Michael Ingham’s crossbar.
At the other end, McCombe prodded wide from a Femi Ilesanmi cross and tested his hamstrings, but not Wycombe keeper Matt Ingram, with an improvised overhead kick.
Luke Summerfield’s low 25-yard drive was also gathered by Ingram, while, from further out, Lindon Meikle hit the roof of the David Longhurst Stand and Marvin McCoy fired wide.
Just before the break, Anthony Straker then missed the target twice – lifting a 12-yard, first-time attempt over from Summerfield’s well-driven corner and curling wide after terrorising unconvincing Wycombe left-back Joe Jacobson with a positive raid from the right.
After the break, Coulson bent a 15-yard effort wide before an Ilesanmi mistake on 55 minutes led to the Buckinghamshire side’s best chance of the afternoon.
The City left back gave the ball away to Paris Cowan-Hall, whose right-wing cross picked out Craig eight yards from goal but the 33-year-old Scotsman’s low shot was parried to safety by Ingham.
Moments later, the Minstermen squandered their easiest opening of the match when Ingram could only palm out Coulson’s free kick but Hyde, following up, poked the ball wide from four yards.
Coulson also flashed a chance wide of Ingram’s left-hand near post from an acute angle, while Keith Lowe’s downward header and another Summerfield long-range drive forced further saves.
But it was ex-Championship forward Hayes who should have settled matters on 82 minutes.
His ten-yard shot, though, lacked both power and direction as Ingham kept it out with his trailing left leg.
Ingham 7 – proved equal to Wycombe’s best two chances but kicking could have been better
McCoy 7 – solid throughout against his old club and willing to join in attacks when possible
Lowe 7 – cleared his lines when necessary and looked more confident after a couple of uncertain displays
STAR MAN McCombe 8 – displayed strong positional sense to snuff out several Wycombe attacks on the floor and in the air
Ilesanmi 7 – almost made a costly error but determined, even if his left-wing raids were not helped by the heavily-sanded pitch
Meikle 6 – could have threatened unconvincing left-back Jacobson more and his only shot hit the roof of the David Longhurst Stand
Penn 7 – patrolled the midfield with intent and proved a combative adversary for the visitors
Summerfield 7 – tested Ingram with a couple of firm long-range drives and involved throughout
Straker 7 – looked to be getting into the groove towards the end of the first half but substituted after a quiet 20 minutes following the restart
Hyde 6 – needed to be sharper when the ball fell to him in front of goal just before the hour and later replaced for fourth game in a row
Coulson 6 – full of endeavour but nearest he came to a goal was from a free kick
Subs: Wes Fletcher 7 – lively (for Straker, 65), Ben Hirst (for Hyde, 75).
Subs not used: Jason Mooney, Daniel Parslow, Ryan Jarvis, Lewis Montrose, Dave Winfield.
Wycombe: Matt Ingram, Sido Jombati, Alfie Mawson, Aaron Pierre, Joe Jacobson, Paris Cowan-Hall (Max Kretzschmar,80), Sam Wood, Peter Murphy, Danny Rowe, Paul Hayes (Matt McClure, 83), Steven Craig (Aaron Holloway, 75). Subs not used: Stuart Lewis, Matt Bloomfield, Barry Richardson, Nicky Walker.
Wycombe star man: Mawson – gave an assured display at the back
Booked: Wood 56, Jacobson 60, Pierre 86.
Attendance: 3,209 (229 from Wycombe)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Ashton-under-Lyne) rating: 5/10 – never looked wise to visitors’ time-wasting
Shots on target: City 6, Wycombe 2
Shots off target: City 11, Wycombe 4
Corners: City 9, Wycombe 3
Fouls conceded: City 15, Wycombe 13
Offsides: City 3, Wycombe 4