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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 11 Jan 14 at 16:45 PM

Report: Bradford City 1-1 City

Mark Perrow reports from Coral Windows Stadium

City played out an entertaining draw in West Yorkshire to extend their unbeaten run to five matches.

Both goals arrived inside the opening 11 minutes, as Scott Wagstaff’s well-taken equaliser cancelled out James Hanson’s deadlock breaker after just 49 seconds.

But that was only the beginning of the story as City, who had started poorly, thereafter enjoyed at least as many chances as their hosts.

Both Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Bradford’s Gary Jones saw memorable goals denied only by the inside of a post, while a flurry of further opportunities came and went at either end.

Steve Cotterill made two changes to his side who bounced back from conceding late to earn a replay against Championship visitors Watford at Ashton Gate.

Derrick Williams and Greg Cunningham, both enforced absentees from the starting line-up that day, returned from suspension and illness respectively to replace Liam Fontaine and Joe Bryan.

But no sooner had the hosts kicked off and forced the game’s first corner, City were behind, as Jones’ kick found its way through to Hanson at the back post to convert from close range.

It was a painfully simple opener from Cotterill’s point of view, and the manager’s mood would not have improved when defender Carl McHugh sent a free header over the top from another Jones set-piece minutes later.

The Robins just could not get going, yet Bradford were soon left scratching their heads as Wagstaff equalised completely against the run of play on 11 minutes.

Williams’ long diagonal pass found the head of Emmanuel-Thomas, whose flick on sent the winger clean through in behind left-back McHugh, who momentarily switched off.

As the ball sat up to be hit, Wagstaff resisted the urge to advance on goal, instead hitting a first-time shot from 20 yards which bounced awkwardly in front of keeper Jon McLaughlin, who only succeeded in helping the ball into the top corner.

It was a welcome reprieve for the visitors, who made the most of it by momentarily enjoying the lion’s share of the chances.

First the ball broke kindly to Sam Baldock on the edge of the penalty area, who opted for a sidefoot shot but hit it straight at McLaughlin, who still made a meal of the save before former City defender Matthew Bates came to his aid with a no-nonsense clearance.

Then Emmanuel-Thomas, until now on the periphery of things, deceived the opposition with a cheeky backheel inside his own half to set Wagstaff on his way down the right, before accepting the return pass and attempting to pick out the top corner with a curling shot only a couple of yards too high.

It was a piece of play that brought back memories of the striker’s second goal in the 4-1 victory over Stevenage a fortnight ago.

Meanwhile, the football as a whole was more reminiscent of City’s helter-skelter early season encounters.

At the other end Kyel Reid engineered space for a driven cross which Aden Flint did well to clear over his own crossbar only a couple of yards from goal, before substitute Jason Kennedy fired a vicious shot towards the near corner which Parish did well to repel without being knocked back into his net.

Either side of Parish’s first save of the day, the influential Bobby Reid stung the palms of McLaughlin from distance – the second of which, cleanly struck on the volley, would have been a contender for goal of the season.

Finally the contest settled down as the first half reached its climax, at least before Garry Thompson played a one-two to get around Cunningham, only for the Irishman to do just enough to put him off as the Bradford man bore down on goal – ultimately skewing his shot well wide.

It was City who started the second half with the greater spring in their step, as Baldock’s quickly taken corner to Cunningham was clipped into the box for Marvin Elliott, who threw himself at it only to steer his diving header inches wide from ten yards.

The Bantams remained a threat from set-pieces, especially in the form of the towering Hanson, but the Robins boasted firepower on the counter-attack.

From one long ball, Emmanuel-Thomas’ attempted flick on to Wagstaff bounced back to the striker, who controlled it on his chest, waited for it to drop and connected with a stunning dipping shot which only bounced back into play via the inside of the far post.

There was a frenzied atmosphere about the occasion, sparked by the mass ranks of Bradford supporters packed in to the giant stand behind Parish’s goal as their team pushed to regain the lead.

It was the obvious aerial target of Hanson who threatened to help provide it, as his knockdown landed perfectly at the feet of 17-year-old strike partner Oliver McBurnie, who neatly turned inside but saw his left-footed shot brilliantly blocked by the lunging Flint.

The momentum was certainly with the hosts, and skipper Jones brought the locals to their feet with a strike to rival that of Emmanuel-Thomas – a rising right-footer that looked destined for the top corner only to strike the top of Parish’s left-hand upright.

Meanwhile, McBurnie danced his way into a shooting position to force Parish into a decent save with his foot, before the keeper had to dive full length to his right to make a stunning save following another Jones corner. 

Debutant Tyrone Barnett was handed 15 minutes to impress at the end, replacing Reid as Cotterill sensed the opportunity to snatch maximum points.

It was the familiar figure of Emmanuel-Thomas who came closest to providing it, embarking on a solo run only halted when his right-footed shot struck a defender at close quarters.

There was still defending to do as the Bradford corners just kept coming, but Cotterill’s men were exactly that – men – standing up to an aerial bombardment and setting out on the long trip home with a deserved point in the bank.

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