Bradford City 0
Peterborough United 1
Saturday 23 August, 2014
By Mahesh Johal
As the droves of supporters dispersed out the Kop this evening, there was a collective realisation that not only had Bradford City lost their first game of the season; but it also looks like we have lost defender Andrew Davies for the foreseeable future.
Davies fell heavily after a collision with teammate Jordon Pickford and Peterborough striker Kyle Vassell. Writhing around the penalty box in obvious pain and discomfort, Davies appeared to injure his arm or shoulder. He went straight to Bradford Royal Infirmary. His absence in the heart of the defence was immediately felt as Vassell then scored the game’s winning goal, calmly firing into the roof of the net.
The game started in energetic fashion, with the Posh winning multiple corners in the first minute. City also started confidently, with home debutant Filipe Morais having a couple of half chances, including a flash volley that went just wide. Morais, the former Stevenage man, played at the tip of the diamond and looked comfortable on the ball. Whilst hard to make a judgement based on 68 minutes, he initially reminded me of a more attacking version of Will Atkinson. With plenty of vigour and neat with the ball at feet, it will be interesting see if the Portuguese player will be offered an extension to his short-term contract.
It was the Posh who had the first real chance of the match, with the busy Conor Washington skiing over from inside the penalty area. Even though missing several first teamers due to injury and the obvious hole left by Britt Assombalonga, Peterborough looked a threat and maybe should have scored from a classic counter attack. After City has wasted a free kick deep in their opponent’s half, Peterborough swarmed out with Washington through on goal. Thankfully for the Bantams, Pickford stayed tall and parried the striker’s well-hit effort. The danger was not over for City, as the resulting save opened up an opportunity for Kane Ferdinand. Fortunately, Jason Kennedy was hand to block that attempt.
With the half drawing to close, the game went up a notch as a header from Ricardo Santos crashed off the post. From the resulting live ball, Christian Burgess then had an effort cleared off the line. One thought the Posh had scored as a roar burst out of the four hundred or so in the TL Dallas stand, but it was City faithful who were cheering after the subsequent clearance. Then in injury time City had their own efforts, with Billy Knott having his shot from 20 yards saved by ex-City trialist Ben Alnwick. First to react to the save was Mason Bennett – who was rewarded with the start after his midweek goal – and the on-loan Derby man attempted to send in a cross which was blocked/handled by a Posh defender in the penalty area.
From Bennett and Knott’s reaction they seemed adamant that the ball was handled, but I am unsure. A block was certainly made by the defender but due the speed of the event, I can’t confidently confirm if it his hand or not. Either way, referee Graham Salisbury was unmoved and the Kop were left outraged.
City looked comfortable going into the second half; however the bubble was well and truly popped as Davies got injured. I don’t know about you, but I always feel there is a collective gasp when Davies goes down. Today was different, however, as the gasp became a groan and then a silence. With people’s minds suddenly turning to Wednesday and the thought of Davies not playing, there was a genuine feel of deflation in the air.
Deflation then turned into dejection as Vassell scored. Matt Smith, who was becoming more influential throughout the second half, rode a tackle from Stephen Darby and the crossed to the striker who finished composedly.
Aaron Mclean and Mark Yeates were both brought on in attempt to change proceedings, but they were both ineffective. I’m sure Mclean would have loved to have scored against the team where he made his name, but a tame header on target was the closest he got. Peterborough, on the other hand, had clear chances to double their lead, but Pickford was again on hand to save. After a mis-placed pass from Knott, Joe Newell’s strike was acrobatically saved by the Sunderland loanee.
Valley Parade attempted to rally their troops, but quite frankly today was not going to be our day. To add to the already tough assignment was City’s battle with Salisbury. Maybe I am wearing claret and amber tinted glasses, but quite honestly I thought his management of the game was poor. Peterborough had a plan to put two men on James Hanson today. It worked well to counter our number nine, but at times it felt as if they were man-handling him. At no point did Hanson win a free kick and he was often the one penalised.
I could go on for several paragraphs, but it is unfair to divulge about him and take way from what was a very entertaining affair. Hanson’s stinging drive forced a good save from Alnwick, but all in all City did not have the firepower to break their resolute guest. Nine minutes added time was not enough to find an equaliser, with Yeates stabbing the best chance over the bar in the last minute.
Attentions will now turn to the arrival of our friends from LS11 on Wednesday. The loss of Davies will be big, but problems are brewing at Elland Road after today’s 4-1 defeat to Watford and what now looks to be the impending departure of manager David Hockaday. The atmosphere inside Valley Parade will be white hot. I just hope we have a referee who is strong enough for the event!
City: Pickford, Darby, McArdle, Davies (Meredith 55), Sheehan, Liddle, Kennedy, Morais (Yeates 68), Knott, Bennett (Mclean 68), Hanson
Not used: Williams, Dolan, Routis, McBurnie