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Report: Bradford City 0-6 Bristol City

Bristol City emphatically sealed promotion to the Championship this evening, winning 6-0 away at Bradford City.

James Tavernier struck a brace with Joe Bryan, Luke Ayling, Aden Flint and Aaron Wilbraham also getting in on the act as City ran riot to seal promotion in style at Valley Parade.

As expected, Steve Cotterill named an unchanged team following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Preston North End on a day in which City might have been promoted with a win had other results gone in their favour.

Cotterill may have been grateful not to be playing this fixture in the depths of winter, when supposedly superior opponents in Millwall and Sunderland were brushed aside on an awful Valley Parade pitch as Bradford marched into the FA Cup quarter-finals.

A slightly improved playing surface still posed problems for both sides early on, with Flint and Bryan both struggling to judge early backpasses and putting Frank Fielding under pressure.

When Bryan conceded a needless corner, the hosts enjoyed the first sight of goal as James Hanson headed the ensuing delivery back across goal to Gary MacKenzie, who was denied by the City keeper from close range.

It would prove an increasingly isolated opportunity for Bradford as City began to get a grip on the game.

First, Tavernier fed Ayling on the right wing, whose cross was just beyond the diving Kieran Agard in the middle.

Then a Marlon Pack corner was met by a Flint header only kept out by a last-ditch clearance.

Agard was guilty of poor decision making in shooting from 20 yards rather than rolling the ball through for Wilbraham, who seemingly had a clear run on goal.

But City would strike the first blow on 17 minutes as Tavernier set them on their way to an historic victory.

The pitch would play a part again as MacKenzie was deceived by a bobble midway inside his own half, allowing Luke Freeman to nip in and take it off his toes.

Carrying the ball menacingly towards the Bradford penalty area, City’s supplier-in-chief slipped it to his right for Tavernier, who was initially denied by a covering defender on the goal-line before lapping up the rebound to stab home the opener.

Freeman would soon become even more unpopular with the locals after being involved in a skirmish with right-back Stephen Darby down by the corner flag.

The defender flew into a somewhat needless lunge, winning the ball cleanly whilst inciting a reaction from the City man that went unpunished by referee Stuart Attwell.

It seemed much ado about nothing, but the Freeman boo-boys were soon silenced by his 20th assist of the campaign thanks to a piece of wing wizardry down the City right.

Carrying the ball to the byeline, he checked back on to his favoured left foot and lofted the ball up invitingly for Bryan to attack at the far post.

For any other player of 5ft 7in it would hardly have constituted a chance, but such is the Bristolian’s capacity to leap the outcome seemed inevitable, and Bryan duly rose above Darby to nod City’s second of the night in off the base of the upright.

The visitors had hardly been troubled aside from the game’s first chance, but Gary Liddle attempted to halve the deficit seconds before the interval with an ambitious 20-yard volley that did not elude Fielding’s top corner by much more than a matter of inches.

Bradford boss Phil Parkinson was quick to act at half-time, introducing former City favourite Jon Stead to form a three-pronged attack.

Stead was soon in the thick of the action, swivelling sharply only to slice his shot well wide from a Hanson knockdown.

To their credit the home fans remained boisterously behind their team even after Ayling effectively ended the contest ten minutes into the second period.

Allowed to drift infield unchallenged, space opened up for the defender to try his luck from 30 yards with a token pot-shot that somehow squirmed beyond the grip of helpless goalkeeper Ben Williams and apologetically into the net.

Still City were far from finished, as Flint towered in typically dominant fashion to power home Pack’s free kick with an unstoppable downward header.

Then Bryan raced to the byeline and showed terrific composure to keep the ball in play and pick out Agard, albeit with a firmly-struck pass forcing the striker to completely miscue his shot high into the air.

But if ever a night was City’s night, this was it, as the ball still contrived to arrive at the feet of Tavernier with his back to goal, who was allowed to turn and rifle home goal number five from six yards.

Amazingly City’s strikers were yet to score before Wilbraham put that right with 11 minutes still to play, capitalising on some comically hesitant defending to slot his 21st goal of the campaign with the utmost ease.

If ever one night summed up a season, this was it.

Safe to say Aden Flint won’t be the only man having a party at the end of it.

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