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Match report: York City 0, Rotherham United 0
York City forward Ashley Chambers fires a chance into the sidenetting during Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Rotherham United in npower League Two
YORK City must hit the target against Coventry in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tomorrow night to avoid equalling an unwanted club record.
The Minstermen were kept off the scoresheet for a third consecutive home match during Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Rotherham, leaving Gary Mills’ team just one game short of the worst run of Bootham Crescent fixtures without a goal during the same season.
That dubious honour is shared by teams managed by Martin Foyle, Neil Thompson and Tom Johnston in 2009, 1999 and 1972 respectively.
The current sequence should be placed in some form of context with Mills’ npower League Two new boys having faced last season’s play-off runners up Cheltenham Town, as well as pre-season title favourites Fleetwood and Rotherham, during a demanding last hat-trick of contests on their own soil.
Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the Minstermen are more effective these days on their travels, where, in contrast, the team have remarkably netted in each of their last 23 matches.
Saturday’s hard-fought 0-0 draw with Rotherham means City have now won only two of the last 11 fixtures in front of their own fans.
In that time, the side have picked up just 12 home points compared to 26 on the road with a lack of firepower contributing to stats that are starting to stack up.
During the last 13 matches they have hosted, City have only managed to score more than once on two occasions.
Ashley Chambers, meanwhile, has contributed a solitary goal from his last 18 games at the Minstermen’s North Yorkshire base.
Other than in the scintillating first half-hour against Fleetwood last Tuesday and the 3-1 victory over Oxford, City have struggled to break down deep-lying defences while employing their 4-3-3 system.
But those two examples are the benchmarks Mills will be using to convince his players that they can once more be successful at home using his favoured formation.
The return of midfielder Scott Kerr and his ability to receive and retain possession – after 26 games and seven months on the sidelines with knee ligament damage – could certainly help in that respect.
Kerr, who will clearly need time to regain full match fitness, received a rousing reception when he was introduced as a 66th- minute substitute on Saturday and immediately set about exhorting those around him to strive for victory, while asking for the ball at every opportunity.
Earlier, the Minstermen had struggled to find the same tempo that threatened to overwhelm Fleetwood in the opening exchanges of their previous outing with too many passes going astray and full-backs Jon Challinor and Jamal Fyfield more conservative in their forward forages.
Rotherham were also laboured, resorting to largely nullified long throws from Icelandic international Kari Arnason as their biggest attacking threat.
Midfield anchorman Dan Parslow’s screening presence in front of the defence also stymied the supply line to Kayode Odejayi, making Ben Pringle’s presence as a link between midfield and the powerful target man so redundant that he was withdrawn at half-time, although his replacement Kieran Agard fared little better.
A pairing of Parslow and Kerr, as disciplined and intelligent sitting midfielders, may indeed bring out the best in Matty Blair if Mills decides to persevere with the latter in his current role behind the front three.
Wing man Chambers produced the first noteworthy goal attempt from either side on Saturday when his 25-yard shot reared up off the slick surface a little unexpectedly and visiting goalkeeper Scott Shearer had to fumble the ball around his left-hand post for a corner.
At the other end, Lionel Ainsworth raced into the home penalty box on 42 minutes but shot weakly at Ingham from a promising position.
In the second half, Gareth Evans headed over from eight yards for Rotherham after Ingham failed to get purchase on an attempted punch.
Walker also drove narrowly wide from 20 yards after he received the ball back from Coulson, who he had sent sprinting down the right flank.
Just before the hour mark, though, Ainsworth missed the chance of the match when he left Chris Doig trailing in his wake but, under pressure from Fyfield, prodded wastefully wide of Ingham’s left-hand upright with only the City ’keeper to beat.
For City, Doig and Coulson combined to create a chance for Walker which was smothered by Shearer and, when the ball dropped invitingly in Paddy McLaughlin’s direction, the Northern Ireland under-21 international chose to use his preferred left boot when his right might not have allowed Nicky Hunt to get in the block that took the sting out of his subsequent follow-up shot.
On 70 minutes, Ingham made an amazing save low to his right to keep out an Odejayi header although, unbeknown to both players at the time, the former Colchester forward was flagged for a supposed push.
Ainsworth also drove across the face of goal after riding a series of City challenges, while Kerr switched the ball onto his left foot before firing over from 20 yards and Chambers blasted high into the sidenetting after debutant Danny Kearns’ clever reverse pass had created an 89th-minute chance for the former Leicester forward to win the match.
Few among Bootham Crescent’s biggest crowd of the season, whatever their persuasion, could argue however that a draw was not a fair result.
Michael Ingham 7
Made another breathtaking save to add to this season’s collection even if it was later discovered the effort would not have stood.
Jon Challinor 7
Showed quality on the ball that has come to be expected of him although crossing might have been better at times.
Chris Smith 7
Didn’t seem as vocal or demonstrative as usual but stuck to his task to help team keep a clean sheet.
Chris Doig 7
Caught out for pace on a couple of occasions but calm in possession and picked out the right passes from the back.
Jamal Fyfield 7
Did not hit the heights he managed against Fleetwood, but defensively sound throughout.
Dan Parslow 8
STAR MAN – a frustrating presence for Pringle and Odejayi before starting to contribute more on the ball as the game went on.
Paddy McLaughlin 6
Not at his best in a creative attacking sense and could have done better with second-half chance.
Matty Blair 6
Struggled to influence the game from his attacking midfield role despite a few promising bursts.
Michael Coulson 6
Linked up with Walker on a couple of occasions, but quiet for other spells.
Jason Walker 8
Came close to scoring twice and protected the ball expertly when it was played up to him.
Ashley Chambers 6
Worked hard, but only threatened sporadically in the final third of the pitch.
Subs: Scott Kerr 7 – clever (for McLaughlin, 66), Danny Kearns 7 – willing (for Coulson, 67). Not used: Musselwhite, Blanchett, Reed, Johnson, Carlisle.
Scott Shearer, Nicky Hunt, Craig Morgan, Ian Sharps, Bob Harris, Lionel Ainsworth, Michael O’Connor, Kari Arnason, Ben Pringle (Kieran Agard, 46), Gareth Evans, Kayode Odejayi. Subs: Dale Tonge, Jason Taylor, Mark Bradley, David Noble, Andy Warrington, Alec Denton.
Star man: Ian Sharps – his physical battle with Walker saw both give no quarter and ended honours even.
Referee: David Webb (County Durham).
Rating: 8/10 – on top of most things, but Chambers caution was harsh.
Booked: Morgan 49, Arnason 82, Chambers 90, Hunt 90.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 5,417 (1,596 away fans).
Shots on target: City 3, Millers 3.
Shots off target: City 8, Millers 11.
Corners: City 6, Millers 0.
Fouls conceded: City 11, Millers 14.
Offsides: City 1, Millers 6.