Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bristol Rovers 0-0 York City (League Two)

Man of the Match: Steve Mildenhall
York City became the first team since mid-February to prevent Rovers from winning at the Mem by holding us to a goalless draw. In a game of few chances Rovers edged proceedings in the first half before bottom club York had the better of the second period, forcing Steve Mildenhall in to a couple of top saves. Eliot Richards missed our best opportunity by blazing over the bar when the ball was cut back to him by Lee Brown 8 yards out.

The starting line-up, on paper at least, saw an emphasis on attack as Joe Anyinsah and Ellis Harrison occupied the two wings with Ryan Brunt and Richards playing up top. It seemed the tactic was to put the struggling Minstermen under as much pressure as possible from the first whistle knowing that they will be set up to defend. Nigel Worthington had set his players up to defend first and foremost before trying to test our back four on a rare counter attack. To their credit they were very organised behind the ball and ensured there was no space for us to move in to and exploit around the penalty area. Despite Richards' chance mentioned above, and one jinking run that he embarked on that saw an 18 yard shot deflect behind for a corner, Rovers didn't test visiting goalkeeper Michael Ingham bar a couple of routine stops. It was a frustrating game to watch unfold as York had no intention to attack but Rovers were lacklustre and had no real means to break a stubborn defence down. Having said that there was one nervy moment in our penalty area when Mildenhall came out to collect a hanging ball 15 yards out. He failed to catch and the loose ball was fired inches wide by an over-eager York attacker.

It would have been a travesty to have gone behind at that point but perhaps it would have kicked us in to life because the game seemed destined to be 0-0 from no more than 20 minutes in. The wily Richard Cresswell was unable to test Tom Parkes significantly whilst Brunt and Richards were both ineffective when forward passes were 20 foot in the air. To be fair the Mem pitch was not conducive to slick passing football but there were too many occasions when our players decided to lump it aimlessly long when a more penetrating pass forward could have been found. John-Joe O'Toole, appearing in his last home match during his loan spell, was not as prominent as he was in past games but still prevented the visitors from putting us under any real pressure, even in the second half.

Sure, they had a couple more opportunities, but I don't think Gasheads ever really felt we would concede, not until late on anyway. Substitute Michael Coulson fired a superb effort towards the top corner but Mildenhall flung his tall frame across the goal to tip wonderfully over the crossbar. It looked destined to dip over the experienced loanee but he showed all his quality to ensure he earned his fourth clean sheet in five home hames.

In truth it was a drab game. York were as poor a side as I've seen down the Mem in League Two whilst on the day we never really got going. It was your typical end of season game although our visitors have plenty left to fight for as they remain in the relegation zone. A point is much better for us than it is for them considering we have little to play for other than pride, but hopefully John Ward will revitalise his men ahead of tomorrow's game away at Dagenham & Redbridge. If he can we give ourselves a good chance of getting something from the game, if we don't then we could very easily go home empty handed.

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