YOUNG Oxford scholar James Roberts gave York City an education in attacking play during a disappointing 1-0 loss at Bootham Crescent.

The lively 18-year-old striker, recently graduated from the U's youth team, scored the only goal of the match on 34 minutes and could have claimed a hat-trick with two excellent chances in a second half when the hosts mustered only one shot of any description.

Defeat left the Minstermen without a victory in 12 home matches and, unlike any other side in the Premier League, Football League or Conference, yet to win on their own soil in all competitions this season.

The match also represented a setback for new boss Russ Wilcox following the promise suggested by a four-game unbeaten run prior to this reverse.

An inability to translate territorial pressure into goals, though, continues to hold back all hopes of a climb away from Sky Bet League Two’s lower reaches.

Reunited front two Wes Fletcher and Jake Hyde only managed a couple of goal attempts apiece while, on the flanks, Lindon Meikle did not even get a chance to showcase a half-time change in hairstyle in this match having been hauled off following an ineffective opening 45 minutes.

His replacement Anthony Straker, though, fared little better.

With Fletcher half-fit and Diego De Girolamo having returned to parent club Sheffield United, temporarily or not, a spectacular Michael Coulson goal continues to look the Minstermen’s biggest hope of getting on the scoresheet.

The former Barnsley and Scarborough winger almost obliged on 16 minutes when his curling edge-of-the-box effort had Ryan Clarke convincingly beaten but thudded back into play after hitting both the crossbar and the Oxford shot-stopper’s left-hand upright.

But, after Roberts made the breakthrough against the run of play, the hosts faded as an attacking force, failing to threaten the visitors’ goal for the final 40 minutes.

Earlier, Fletcher had called Clarke into action on ten minutes when he collected Lewis Montrose’s deft ball through the left channel and forced a near-post save.

Coulson went on to rattle the frame of the goal before delivering a corner that Hyde headed straight into Clarke’s hands from eight yards.

The latter also curled a low shot at the U’s keeper from the edge of the box on the half-hour mark.

Up to that point, Brian Howard had dragged the visitors’ only opportunity well wide from 30 yards but the same player called Alex Cisak into a flying save from a free kick that led to the game’s only goal.

Howard delivered the resulting corner to the near post, where it was helped on by a flick of Danny Hylton’s head before the ball fell to an unmarked Roberts, who finished emphatically from three yards.

It proved a pivotal moment with Cisak also needing to keep out long-range attempts from Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and Alfie Potter before the break.

A couple of clever feints by City skipper Russell Penn resulted in a 15-yard chance for fellow midfielder Lewis Montrose that was beaten out by Clarke on 52 minutes, but he would not be tested again for the rest of the match.

At the other end, Cisak had to be alert when Potter tried to squeeze an angled effort inside his right-hand upright and Roberts, who recently penned a four-year contract at the Kassam Stadium, proved uncatchable on the counter attack, but was thwarted again by the on-loan Burnley net-minder.

Roberts did beat Cisak on 82 minutes after Penn had lost possession and presented the division’s leading marksman Hylton, playing on the right wing in a 4-5-1 formation, an opportunity to send his teenage team-mate sprinting through clear on goal.

But Roberts’ low ten-yard shot bounced off the former Australia under-20 international’s right-hand post.

The Minstermen could not take advantage, however, having now netted more than once on only two occasions in their last 18 home matches and scored just 19 times in 25 Bootham Crescent fixtures during this calendar year.

Match facts

York City

Cisak 7 – made some smart saves to prevent a heavier defeat for his team

McCoy 7 – defended reliably and foraged forward with intent at times

Lowe 7 – clever positional play saw him in right place to clear danger throughout

STAR MAN Zubar 8 – gave no quarter with a display full of strength and pace

Ilesanmi 8 – proved almost impossible to shrug off the ball during his purposeful raids down the left

Meikle 5 – end product was missing from the flank prior to half-time replacement

Montrose 6 – had team’s only second-half shot and set up good early chance for Fletcher

Penn 6 – influential in spells but not as prominent during other periods

Coulson 7 – shook the crossbar with a typical strike but largely quiet after the break

Hyde 6 – used his chest to hold the ball up but not seen with his face to goal enough

Fletcher 6 – threat waned after a bright start and looked tired before his withdrawal

Subs: Anthony Straker 5 - erratic (for Meikle, 46), Luke Summerfield 6 – keen (for Montrose, 69), Carson (for Fletcher, 78).

Subs not used: Jason Mooney, John McCombe, Brad Halliday, Tom Platt.

Oxford United

Ryan Clarke, Joe Riley, Johnny Mullins, Jake Wright, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Alfie Potter, Danny Rose, Andrew Whing, Brian Howard (Callum O’Dowda, 73), James Roberts, Danny Hylton. Subs not used: Jon Meades, Michael Raynes, Josh Ruffels, Michael Collins, Max Crocombe, Tyrone Barnett.

Oxford star man: Roberts – menacing with his pace and predatory instinct

Booked: Rose 55.

Attendance: 3,363 (468 from Oxford)

Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland). Rating: 7/10 – correctly penalised Oxford regularly for robust play

Shots on target: City 5, Oxford 6

Shots off target: City 4, Oxford 3

Corners: City 10, Oxford 6

Fouls conceded: City 6, Oxford 16

Offsides: City 1, Oxford 1