City’s endeavour goes unrewarded as Vale halt VP run

29 Sep

Bradford City 0

Port Vale 1

Pope 38

Saturday 29 September, 2012

By Joe Cockburn

The result didn’t tell the full story for City today as we went down 1-0 at home to Port Vale. And at this stage of the season, it doesn’t really matter that much either.

With no scramble for points, we can afford to play well and not get the result and that was certainly the case today. The team performed impressively but it just wasn’t to be in terms of scoring goals. And it showed with the fans’ reaction at the full time whistle, applauding the players off and not even a hint of a boo that would have come in the same situation last season.

The tactics were similar to Tuesday night; Will Atkinson once again starting on the right, with Kyel Reid inevitably coming back in on the left. This clearly allowed Reid more of a free run out; he gave right-back Richard Duffy a lot to think about before the break. His crossing let him down, however, often failing to find a man and numerous mis-hits – some of which ended up outside the box, not even giving the Vale defence a slight test. But this be his character: if he was a consistent performer he would be playing every week in the Championship. He spent a lot of the second half on the right hand side, which frustrated me a lot, as he is nowhere as good with his right foot, meaning he often shifted back on to his left, but then he felt the need to shoot a lot, so that ruined his performance for me.

Stephen Darby was unlucky to lose his place after a good performance at right-back on Tuesday. He is yet to do anything majorly wrong, and I don’t like seeing a centre half at full-back, it makes the team a little flat, and means the winger often has to do a lot on his own. That said, Rory McArdle did well today, and rarely performed his aimless lump upfield.

Hanson and Wells were partnered up front, Wells did well enough, but Hanson was below par. His headers were weak, and he struggled to win headers against the sizeable pairing of Clayton McDonald and John McCombe. He connected with at least three pinpoint crosses during the game, and in fairness the crosses lacked pace, but he needs to learn to generate his own power, rather than letting the ball just hit his head and glide into the keeper’s arms.

Hanson’s performance perhaps seemed worse in comparison to the fantastic one at the opposite end from Tom Pope. His tireless work and ability to win headers he had no right to win is just what City would love from Hanson. If he had a partner like Wells, Port Vale would be unplayable.

The game started in a fantastic fashion, and continued that way to the half time whistle; with both sides fearlessly attacking, the game could have turned either way, which it did. A rare mistake from Gary Jones gifted Tom Pope with the ball, then McArdle accidently took out Luke Oliver with an unnecessary slide tackle to open it up for the Vale striker, who did what he seems to always do against the Bantams.

However, that was a rare opening for the visitors, who created just two other chances of note, both coming in the second half. Firstly, Ashley Vincent should have done better after a quick break, shooting straight at Jon McLaughlin. The City stopper also made a fine save from the quiet Jennison Myrie-Williams, after a bit of a scramble in front of him.

City controlled the majority of the game, and had multiple attacks and the ball spent a lot of time in the Vale defensive third, but too often the attacks fizzled out into nothingness, with poor crosses, wild long shots or weak efforts at the keeper ending each good spell City had. The bottom line is, there weren’t many clear goalscoring opportunities for the home side.

The first two minutes, however, saw two unbelievably clear-cut chances. First Wells finding space but firing straight at the keeper and then, from the resulting corner, Hanson headed into the side netting – many City fans thinking it had somehow sneaked in at the far post. At that point, I thought my cheeky punt at 4-2 might have been won me £66 from my 1 pound coin.

The first half continued to be exciting. It was clear from the first five minutes that there were two good sides on the pitch, and this set out for a good game. Numerous half chances were created, but the game began to slow and unfold when the visitors realised the referee was prone to a con or 25. Every sticky situation for them resulted in a dive or a sneaky foul on Hanson or Wells, but Mr Paul Tierney was determined not to give anything City’s way.

City went in at half time unfairly 1-0 down, and didn’t really look like scoring in the second half. I think Port Vale’s choice of ends had something to do with this; we score so many goals when we attack the Kop in the second half, the players undoubtedly urged on by the fans they are playing towards. Today, playing towards the Bradford End after half time, the game seemed to fizzle out, the fans didn’t really get into it and it became rather flat.

Credit to Port Vale. They did just what they had to do: scored the goal and defended well, to go home with the three points. I think they were also helped by our extra-time win on Tuesday night. Players looked a little leggy, and I think Gary Jones was the biggest casualty of this. Playing 120 minutes on Tuesday, then another 90 today, and at 35, he struggled more as the game went on. Passes were over and under hit, and Mr Reliable wasn’t as reliable as usual. But we can be sure that this won’t be the case on Tuesday when he returns to his former stomping ground.

Fan’s reaction was mixed after the game, some saying we looked really good, others saying we never looked like scoring. I say both. We played well, but didn’t create enough clear cut chances to win the game by a considerable margin.

Thoughts now turn to Tuesday night at my favourite away ground, Spotland. There are several former Rochdale players in our squad who will be out with a point to prove, and let’s hope the atmosphere is as good as it usually is when we play there.

I will leave you with one thought that I heard, which I think sums things up perfectly. We will play worse than that and win this season. Will we be happy then?

City: McLaughlin, McArdle, Oliver (Connell 81), Davies, Meredith, Atkinson (Hines 62), Gary Jones, Doyle, Reid (Thompson 87), Hanson, Wells

Not used: Duke, Darby, Ravenhill, McHugh

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9 Responses to “City’s endeavour goes unrewarded as Vale halt VP run”

  1. Wayne September 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Hi joe great to see another match report from you.
    today we started like an express train going at vale with everything that is so good this year about cty. Winning tackles , getting the ball to the wingers quick. It seemed pp had made sure we were not going to get bullied by vale. wells ,hanson all having chances that another day would have put us into a commanding lead. For me it was attack and defence with vale just trying to hold on in first half. As always seems to happen they get one chance score and we find ourselves trying to get back into the game we have dominated. I also noticed that we didnt see G.Jones getting into the box from crosses as much as we have seen this year ? Most of the time there was just hanson and wells in there when the crosses were coming in, we need to commit midfield men forward more to give hanson ,wells more freedom in the box. I felt our wide players werent on the top of the game today and although the wide men were positive the ball never seemed to drop for us in the box. Second half we started slowly and for the first time this year I felt certain players were beginning to show fatigue? Maybe pp will look into this for tuesday and make a few changes?. One point joe if I may . James hanson has been superb this year but I felt vale were well organised when these long throwins go straight to hanson ,they knew how to deal with our tactic. Its becoming to predictable we beed a centre half in there as well to give opposition another threat. a good performance but sadly no result today.

  2. Neil Myers September 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I’m always happy when we win, if that goes hand in hand with a good performance great but for me and all fans i’m sure i’d rather BCFC play poorly and win rather than like today where i thought BCFC played very well and lost. The glaring mistake by the officials in missing a stonewall penalty just before Vale scored was pivital.

    I must be going blind as i’ve yet to see McArdle ‘lump’ it, i have noticed the defender under pressure clear the ball though.

    I thought Atkinson played well today but did fade. Oliver and Davies were immense again, McArdle had an excellent game, Doyle had another fine game. Hanson did well but i agree with Joe that he needs to generate more heading power in those great goal scoring situations he had today and will have throughout this season. Wells, this fella is a fine player in the making, no make that… Wells is a fine player full stop.

    A good read Joe!!!!!

  3. Ben September 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    A fair report but for one point.

    McArdle criticism. What? He’s been 7 out of 10 every game but perhaps Rotherham. What a player. I accept you have an entitlement to question a CH playing FB, but questioning McArdle. Sorry Joe. You’re wrong.

    I agree Hanson was well below par. I also thought Atkinson was a little negative.

    We were by far the better team. Roll on Tuesday.

  4. David Rhodes September 29, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    We played well, and definitely deserved a draw at least based on our possession, control of the game, and attempts on target. On another day we would have scored 3 or 4 and it wouldn’t have flattered us. PV defended really well to be fair, although they were quite cynical I thought, with constant shirt-pulling and time-wasting and constantly climbing all over Hanson etc, most of which, despite their two yellows for time-wasting, went unpunished. What I find concerning is how we seem to be dominating games, but then conceding on a single or an infrequent attack, and I can’t quite see why this should be happening, especially with the back 4 we have. Do we need a better keeper? Someone at the back with a bit more pace perhaps? Or maybe we have just been unlucky?

    • Jason September 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      At the same time I think the back four and keeper do deserve credit for the fact the opposition are creating such few chances.

      • David Rhodes September 29, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

        Yes, you’re quite right, and I didn’t mean to appear to be knocking them Jason. But that is kind of my point really, in that we are collectively limiting oppositions to few chances, yet still conceding from those, and often, it seems, well against the run of play. If we could pinpoint why that was happening, it could almost make us unbeatable with the way we are playing at the moment.

  5. Mick Rogers September 30, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    The comment about playing the “wrong” way in the first half is valid. We hardly ever seem to win when we play towards the kop first. My usual comment at a minute to three is we might as well go home now as we won’t win today! It would be interesting to see the statistics for the last few years.

    I’m not Hanson’s biggest fan as he is far too static for my liking. Second half yesterday was crying out for more movement up front to move those 2 giants out of their comfort zones, take them into areas where they would feel uncomfortable and get them turning.. We failed to do that and they were happy to sit and gobble up all the high balls thrown at them.

    Entertaining game, ultimately frustrating, but points to be gained in the next 7 days on the road.

  6. Neil Myers October 1, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    Regarding playing towards the kop in the first half, i got the impression that up to Saturdays game we hadn’t lost playing that way for quite a while. I remember David Syers scoring a very importent late goal into the Bradford End against Aldershot not that long ago. Obviously we don’t play that way that often, but having lost on Saturday expect other clubs to play exactly the same way if they win the toss, scouts for upcoming matches at VP will have noted what happened so next time we get turned around it’s importent BCFC win the points as we should have done against Port Vale..

  7. Dean October 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Good read Joe.

    It seemed like it was just one of those days for city on Saturday! I’m convinced that if we played till 5pm the following day we would not have scored.

    I was also not too happy over the change of ends having lost the toss, and this added with the fact that my mum and brother made an appearance didn’t leave me feeling too confident.

    Port Vale came to do one thing and one thing only, that was nick a goal and defend. Don’t think anyone can argue they defended well and their keeper made some vital saves. However, for me and in my opinion they showed no class, time waisting, even in the 1st half and were quite a dirty team. However, it does show teams know it’s a difficult place to come to and how vital a lead is at VP.

    I think Vale must have the biggest back four in the league that i have seen to date and when we are lumping balls in (mainly to Hanson) they were winning the vast majority of them, but didn’t seem to really learn from this.

    I am a massive fan of Hanson and think he gets a lot of stick for no reason. He just seemed to have one of those games. The header at the back post from a Jones corner in front of Kop in the 1st half was not the easiest as he was climbing over one of their defenders. But the two other chances stand out, and at least one should have been converted. One was virtually an open goal, where he skewed it wide in 1st half and the 2nd was a peach of a corner from Jones, once again, and Hanson managed to get between the back two for a free header, but as people above have commented, this lacked direction and conviction, and ended straight in the arms of the keeper.

    Hanson has plenty more goals in him, and at least he is getting into the right positions.

    The whole team put in a real shift, and considering the midweek 120mins v Burton, I take my hat off to them all, and the desire to try and pull the deficit around was clear for all to see.

    I thought Atkinson had a very good 1st half to be honest and looks a different player compared to the one from last season. His 1st touch is much better and his strength seems to have improved, however, when he gets a chance to either have a crack at goal or run at the opposition he seems to lack confidence, but I’m sure this will improve as the season goes on.

    I hate saying this, but the referee had a stinker!!! How we never got a penalty is behond me, but I’m a firm believer of karma and we will get the rub of the green in other games this season, that I am sure of.

    I also thought the crowd really got behind the team and that was evident at the final whistle.

    I hate leaving VP or any ground for that matter having lost, but can’t complain too much about Saturday and left feeling confident that if we play like that come Tuesday away at Rochdale (or indeed any future games) we will come away with points.

    Next three games are away, two in the league v Dale, Hartlepool in JPT, and back to the league v Daggers on Sat 6th October, where I am sure PP will be using the squad of players he has built up, so players don’t burn out or get injured.

    It makes a change looking at the league table having played 9 games and sitting on 16 points, so we are heading in the right direction and long may it continue.

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