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Ryan Clarke to the rescue with injury-time stop
RYAN Clarke was thankful he trusted in his instincts to make a stoppage-time block which earned Oxford United a point with a goalless draw at York City.
The goalkeeper had already saved well after Ryan Jarvis went through on the hour mark, but he was left even more exposed in the 92nd minute.
As United’s back four appealed for offside when a ball was pumped forward, Ashley Chambers was allowed to run from deep.
Clarke had no hesitation in rushing out of the penalty area and although the forward won the foot race, he was forced into a hurried effort which struck the U’s No 1.
It was a relief for the goalkeeper, who admitted he knew there was little chance of getting to the ball first.
“I showed my sprinting technique quite well,” he said.
“I thought I was 99 per cent going to lose that race because he looked very quick.
“But once I made my mind up, I just had to get there and hope he hit it against me.
“I tried to make myself big because it was a couple of yards outside the box.
“He tried to knock it round me, but fortunately I got a good knee on it.”
There have been several times this season where Clarke has not had anything out of the ordinary to deal with, thanks to the displays of the back four.
On this occasion the 31-year-old was delighted to make a telling contribution, but was quick to share the praise.
He said: “The main thing is that hasn’t happened too much this year in terms of teams going through one-on-one.
“We have been really solid, I think it’s a good sign that it’s only happened here.
“As a back five and Raynesy (Michael Raynes, who was among the substitutes) we have been great this year.
“We have been strong, it’s not just me – everyone deserves credit.
“The boys in front of me have been rock solid. It’s the strongest defence I have played behind in my car- eer.”
The draw, coupled with Chesterfield’s win at Exeter on Friday night, meant that for the first time in five weeks United were knocked off top spot in Sky Bet League Two.
Despite the slight irritation at not leading the table at Christmas, Clarke thought being one point off the summit remained an excellent position.
He said: “If someone had said (before the season) that we were going to be second on Boxing Day I’m sure we would have snapped their hand off.
“We have been consistent this season and that’s the main thing.
“That little bit more experience has steadied the ship and it’s a great position to be in.”
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