Saturday, 21 July 2012

Oxford United v York City - Squad Comparison Analysis - Part 1

For those that follow me on Twitter (@captainox), you'll have realised by now that I spend a lot of my time tweeting about both Oxford United and York City. So what's the deal here? Well having been born in Oxford, I moved to York when still very young. My first ever match was Oxford United v Ipswich Town but growing up in York has meant I've followed the team's fortunes very closely. They are my second team and I'm not afraid to say that. However, in a game between the two sides, I'm a Yellow all the way!

Anyway to the point of this post:
Following a discussion on Twitter with @Raththekid about my thoughts on the squads of the two teams closest to my heart (Oxford being closest of course), I decided that to pass some time - and also provide (hopefully) some interesting reading for Oxford, York and League Two fans - I would go through each clubs current squad and conduct a SCA (Squad Comparison Analysis) - doesn't that sound flash! Throughout the next few days, I will consider each area of the two sides (Goalkeepers, Defence, Midfield and Attack) and use a number of criteria to judge which side has the "better squad". I hope that each piece comes across as well thought out and accurate but knowing football fans this won't be the case and I will probably cause heated argument on discussion forums.

Part 1 - Goalkeepers

Oxford United                                                                                                  York City
1. Ryan Clarke                                                                                                  24. Michael Ingham
21. Wayne Brown                                                                                             1. Paul Musselwhite
34. Max Crocombe

I've split this category into 6 attributes for which to compare the two first choice goalkeepers, for Oxford, Ryan Clarke and for York, Michael Ingham. The attributes are as follows: Crosses, Communication, Kicking, Penalty Saving, Shot Stopping and Banter/Rapport with fans.
Ryan Clarke
Michael Ingham

Crosses: Despite 'Clarkey's huge error in the playoff final of 2010, I think he just takes the win here, often coming a long way and through crowds of players to get something on the ball. Ingham seems to be quite often berated by City fans for not coming to claim.
Communication: Perhaps surprisingly I award this to Ingham. Although Clarke takes the crosses category, a lot of his adventures to the edge of his box seem to come as a surprise to his defenders. Ingham on the other hand seems to be able to communicate his feelings without having to shout and bawl at his back four.
Kicking: A ball disappears over the stand and out of the ground, Ingham is most likely to be on the end of it. Perhaps harsh, but I personally think one of the only flaws of Ingham's game is his kicking. Clarke has a longer boot on him and 80% of the time it reaches the intended target. *Ingham's kicking has improved immensely over the past 2 seasons*
Penalty Saving: Clarke here without a moments hesitation. One of the best penalty saving keepers I can ever remember at Oxford. Can recall at least 4 spot kicks he has saved at vital moments over the last 3 seasons, as well as a great save away at Bradford but the penalty was retaken and scored. 
Shot Stopping: The toughest choice of the 6. I have seen both keepers make some outstanding saves but Clarke just shades it for the number of fantastic double saves I have seen him make. His reactions to an original parry to block a second attempt are top draw. Ingham though has great reflexes too.
Banter/Rapport with fans: No contest really. Whether you love it or hate it, Michael Ingham will always provide some entertainment during the 90 minutes. That may be taking the p!ss out of his own strikers or winding up the opposition fans but something is guaranteed to happen every week. 
Final Score: Clarke 4-2 Ingham.

If Clarke/Ingham were to suffer an injury or suspension, I would much prefer to have Wayne Brown stepping in than Paul Musselwhite. Whilst both combine their rare playing duties with coaching at their respective clubs, Brown comes across as the more readily available to step in if needed. York fans might point too 'Muzzy' keeping 3 clean sheets in a row last season, but how much of this was down to the back four in front of him, going to a lot of extra effort. Oxford have the upper hand with the addition of  young Kiwi Max Crocombe on a professional contract after some impressive performances in the youth and reserve sides. He is the first YT goalkeeper to be offered a contract in a very long time so must be well thought of. Both Brown and Alan Hodgkinson at Oxford seem to have improved Ryan Clarke's game and Musselwhite's influence at York has seen Ingham improve no end. Both clubs can feel confident heading into the new season with solid and confident Number 1's (well 24's in Inghams case)

Goalkeepers: OXFORD UNITED

images from: press association images on
badges from: footballchatter and wikipedia 

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