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Cambridge Utd 1, York City 0
YORK City slumped to a third successive league defeat courtesy of a bizarre Ben Purkiss own goal at Cambridge United.
In a calamitous 51st minute for the Minstermen, a confident Purkiss was made to look foolhardy when his attempt to chest Felino Jardim’s right-wing cross back to goalkeeper Michael Ingham only succeeded in looping the ball over the bewildered Northern Ireland international.
It proved the only goal of the game with the visitors’ threat familiarly feeble at the other end of the pitch.
Mark Greaves’ two late headers from corners against Setanta Shield visitors Mansfield and Torquay are now the only goals City have managed in six matches, meaning Colin Walker’s men have failed to trouble the scoresheet in open play for more than nine hours of football.
With Bruce Dyer ruled out with a hamstring strain and Onome Sodje dropped to the bench, Craig Farrell and Daniel McBreen were partnered in attack, but struggled to make a favourable impression as City suffered a third successive 1-0 defeat on the road.
The team are currently travelling more in hope than expectation despite limiting Cambridge to just two on-target goal attempts, other than Purkiss’ effort, during last night’s match.
Joint-top scorer Greaves missed the first chance of the evening, firing over the roof of the stand from 30 yards on four minutes.
But Cambridge went closer seconds later when Jardim charged into the penalty box to head narrowly wide from Robbie Willmott’s cross and Mark Beesley then missed a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock.
Lee McEvilly ran on to Dan Gleeson’s long ball behind Darren Kelly down the right channel and then played a perfect low cross for the former Forest Green forward, but he somehow scooped the ball over from three yards out.
At the other end, Farrell squandered an equally presentable chance on 16 minutes when quick thinking by free-kick taker Steven Hogg picked him out alone on the home side’s penalty spot.
But the recalled City striker failed to trouble home ’keeper Danny Potter unduly with a scuffed, sidefooted effort.
Potter pushed a 30-yard Hogg shot behind shortly afterwards, while McBreen had the ball in the net on the half-hour mark but had dragged Cambridge centre-back Philip Bolland down in the box before firing into the bottom corner.
Former Minsterman Mark Convery flashed a 25-yard effort wide on 36 minutes and Willmott failed to beat Ingham at the near post on the stroke of half-time after McEvilly’s clever pass inside Purkiss.
Early in the second half, Beesley’s header after McEvilly had beaten McGurk down the right was deflected wide before Cambridge were gifted the lead by Purkiss’ clanger.
In response, Hogg dragged a 25-yard chance wide on 55 minutes while substitute Sodje miskicked eight yards in front of goal after McGurk had pulled the ball back from the byline.
Just past the hour, Hogg then headed wide from a Simon Russell cross, but Cambridge might have extended their lead when McEvilly held his run expertly to spring the visitors’ offside trap and bear down on Ingham’s goal after Gleeson’s through ball.
But a heavy touch by the former Accrington striker allowed City’s ’keeper to smother his shot.
Substitute Scott Rendell, returning to Cambridge on loan from Peterborough, drove over from the edge of the box on 77 minutes, while Wayne Hatswell also went close with a header from Convery’s free-kick.
City could have snatched an unlikely point when a flick of Farrell’s head diverted Russell’s inswinging left-wing cross against Potter’s far post on 81 minutes but that was the sum of the visitors’ attempts at an equaliser despite McGurk being thrown forward as an emergency striker at the death.
Cambridge Utd 1 (Purkiss og 51), York City 0
City: Michael Ingham 6, Ben Purkiss 5, Danny Parslow 7, David McGurk 7, Darren Kelly 7, Mark Robinson 5, Mark Greaves 6, Simon Rusk 5, Steven Hogg 6, Craig Farrell 5, Daniel McBreen 5.
Substitutions: Simon Russell (for Robinson, 55) 6, Onome Sodje (for McBreen, 59) 5, Ben Wilkinson (for Hogg, 73).
Subs not used: Mimms, Rothery.
Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.
City’s star man: McGurk – spirited display on left side of defence.
Cambridge United: Danny Potter, Dan Gleeson (Josh Coulson, 90), Philip Bolland, Wayne Hatswell, Anthony Tonkin, Felino Jardim, Paul Carden, Mark Convery, Robbie Willmott, Lee McEvilly (Danny Crow, 83), Mark Beesley (Scott Rendell, 71).
Subs (not used): Chris Holroyd, Stephen Drench.
Yellow cards: Carden 67, Kelly 83.
Shots on target: United 2, City 4
Shots off target: United 11, City 4
Corners: United 4, City 1
Fouls conceded: United 8, City 15
Offsides: United 7, City 2
Referee: John Hopkins. Rating: barely noticed, which is normally a good sign.
Attendance: 2,914 (120 City fans).
Miss of the match: Beesley failing to find the net from three yards.
Pass of the match: Hogg’s clever free-kick that set up Farrell for the game’s second-worst miss.
Mistake of the match: Purkiss’ disastrous own goal.
City player watch: Mark Greaves
Goal attempts on target: 0
Goal attempts off target: 1
Blocked goal attempts: 0
Passes to own player: 18
Passes to opposition: 7
Crosses to own player: 0
Crosses to opposition: 1
Pass completion rate: 69.2 per cent
Dribbles ball retained: 2
Dribbles ball lost: 2
Dribble completion rate: 50 per cent
Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 2
Fouls won: 0
Fouls conceded: 3
Yellow cards: 0
Final summary: Mark Greaves gave his normally destructive performance in front of the City defence but, perhaps surprisingly, only won five tackles and eight headers. His threat at corners was negated by the fact that City only forced one flag kick. Greaves’ only goal attempt also finished well off target from 30 yards.