These will have been the words of U’s gaffer Chris Wilder as his side left the dressing room for the pitch at Bootham Crescent. He wouldn’t have been banking on Ryan Clarke to not deal with a Patrick McLaughlin shot, Michael Coulson eventually profiteering from Clarke’s error to give York the lead with only 20 seconds played.
To be fair to United, they didn’t go into their shell, Sean Rigg went close with a curling effort before seeing a shot deflected onto the crossbar, Alfie Potter shot wide and Deane Smalley saw a couple of efforts blocked. Sometimes in football, you get the feeling it’s not going to be your day; the early goal and Rigg’s effort against the crossbar had given this indication but it was to be further enhanced after only 12 minutes. Smalley saw another shot blocked by a York hand and the referee duly awarded a penalty. Smalley stepped up but saw his weak shot pushed away by City goalkeeper Michael Ingham. It was to get worse, fine play between Ashley Chambers and Patrick McLaughlin saw Chambers released into space to fire past Clarke and double the home side’s lead.
Despite the two goal deficit, United continued to attack and eventually got a reward for their efforts, Adam Chapman’s corner was headed away by Danny Parslow but only onto McLaughlin and into the back of the net. A scrappy goal but perhaps the catalyst Oxford needed to get back into the game. It wasn’t to be before half time. Smalley had another golden chance but saw his point blank shot hit Ingham and bounced away to safety.
The game was ended as a contest after 54 minutes, Michael Raynes tried one trick too many on the edge of his own box and lost the ball to Jason Walker who fed McLaughlin who found Clarke’s bottom corner to make it 3-1. United huffed and puffed in the midfield but had no joy as York took a stranglehold on the game in the final 20 minutes. The impressive McLaughlin and former Swindon man Jonathan Smith began to zip the ball about in attempts to release substitute Matty Blair against a tiring United backline.
There was one more chance for Oxford, James Constable on as a sub, hit a volley across the face of goal and wide but the damage had been done in the first half. So United return from two trips to Yorkshire this week without anything to show for their efforts. As on Tuesday against Leeds, the final scoreline was perhaps harsh on Chris Wilder’s men but they must learn to be more clinical if they are to have any impact at the top of League Two.
A test against Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon in the JPT on Wednesday is a distraction many Oxford fans are looking forward to but the real hard work continues next Saturday as United welcome Exeter City to the Kassam.