Bradford City 5
Wells 3, Haynes-Brown OG 13, Davies 31, McArdle 37, Hanson 45
AFC Wimbledon 1
Saturday 25 August, 2012
By Mark Scully
1987 was the last time Bradford City ran riot and scored five goals in the first half, the opponents that day were Oldham Athletic. Yesterday the victims came in the form of AFC Wimbledon. The Dons couldn’t cope with City’s attacking play and, in truth, it was men against boys. I wouldn’t like to be the goalkeeping or defensive coaches at Wimbledon – after being hit for six in midweek at Burton, to concede another five in the next game clearly isn’t good enough by anyone’s standards.
The Bantams came into the game with a unchanged side after the impressive 1-0 win over Fleetwood on Tuesday night, and got off to a flying start after only three minutes when Nahki Wells got onto the end of Matt Duke’s long kick down field, and the frail Dons defence showed us their first calamity at the back as they left the ball; allowing the Bermudian to nip in and round Seb Brown in the visitors goal, before slotting in from a tight angle. I don’t think anyone in the crowd could of envisaged what was going to happen in the rest of the half.
On thirteen minutes, City doubled their lead. The ball looked to have gone out of play during the neat build up, before left back James Meredith charged forward onto Kyel Reid’s through ball and fizzed the ball across the six yard box, and debutant Dons’ left back Haynes-Brown slid in and hooked the ball into the top corner. Things got a lot worse for the young loanee as he was stretchered off midway through the second half after a clash of heads with Zavon Hines.
Every time City went forward we looked like scoring. A combination of excellent play by the home side, with a poor visiting team thrown in for good measure, made for great viewing if you were cheering on the claret and amber. Bradford extending their lead in bizarre fashion as the hapless Brown had another moment to forget in the Dons goal; Andrew Davies took a free kick from about 40 yards out, Brown came to claim the ball, badly misjudged the flight of it and it went straight through his hands and into the back of the net. We’d only played 30 minutes.
Annoyingly, Wimbledon were given a small glimmer of light when, with their first shot on target, they found the back of the net after Byron Harrison headed home unmarked to make it 3-1. The Bantams took just two minutes to regain the three goal cushion when Rory McArdle opened his account for his new club, stroking home James Hanson’s knockdown.
On the stroke of half time the rout was complete when Hanson scored for the second straight home game, and his third goal in all competitions this season, when he sent a looping header back across Brown after an excellent cross by Wells picked out the unmarked striker.
City went off to a standing ovation and fully deserved the plaudits. They had played Wimbledon off the park, took the chances when they came along and – with Gary Jones and Nathan Doyle dominating the central midfield area – the pressure was rarely realised on the visitors. The pace of Reid and Hines on the wings was giving the Wimbledon full backs a torrid time.
In the second half, the visitors came out and had a little go back at City, causing some pressure and forcing a couple of corners without really putting Duke under any real danger. Despite easing off the pedal with the game effectively won after the first half performance, it was Bradford that had the better second half chances. Hines twice went close, curling one effort just wide and later Brown made a good save when the tricky winger cut in and curled one with his left foot.
Reid had the best chance of the half after pinching the ball off the foot of the Dons right back MacDonald before racing clear one on one with defenders closing down on him, but shooting straight at the keeper when in truth it should have been a sixth goal. The game was stopped for around seven minutes midway through the half when Haynes-Brown was carried off with a serious looking injury.
Wells, Hines and Doyle all went off to standing ovations before the final whistle. It’s not very often as a fan you get to watch a second half in relaxation mode knowing that – barring a complete calamity – the game was won, and it was just a matter of how many we would win by.
It has been a good first week to the season. Despite losing at Gillingham, back to back home wins have propelled Bradford up to fourth in the league. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to see us sitting in a play-off place, it’s been that long. Granted were only three games in, but the signs are promising and – if we can maintain a consistent level over the next few weeks – we should be sitting pretty near the top end of the table.
Next stop New York. Well, Rotherham’s version of the Big Apple, and a certain Steve Evans…
City: Duke, McArdle, Oliver, Davies, Meredith, Hines (Atkinson 74), Doyle (Thompson 74), Gary Jones, Reid, Hanson, Wells (Connell 79)
Not used: McLaughlin, Darby, McHugh, Hannah