Developing the winning ugly habit

Northampton Town 0

Bradford City 1

Wells 53

Tuesday 23 October, 2012

By Joshua Chapman

Nahki Wells has a unique love affair for Sixfields Stadium, with his four goals in our last two visits claiming us three points on both occasions and giving Kevin Langmead sleepless nights. But, in typical Bradford City style, we made it hard for ourselves.

The Bantams made the long trip south on the back of a thumping 3-1 home victory against (say it quietly) fellow promotion contenders Cheltenham Town, ending their phenomenal away record in the process. It gave a sense of optimism which we haven’t taken to an away game for some time now.

Northampton had only lost once at home all season prior to this game – to top of the table Gillingham at the start of the month. But, we knew with the Cobblers needing to prove a point after their Friday night humiliation at the hands of an Edgar Davids-inspired Barnet side. This wasn’t going to be an easy game for us.

Before the game the away end was greeted with the fantastic sight of Gary Jones looking fit and warming up with the side, even though he wasn’t in the 18 and – like team-mate Adam Baker – had just travelled with the side.

The first half was a tight scrappy affair with more bookings to probably talk about than actual shots on the goal, but Northampton probably lost the game with the use of two tactics both combated easily by the dominating presence of Andrew Davies and Luke Oliver. The first was the long throw from Ben Tozer, on each occasion was aimed at Adebayo Akinfenwa and on each occasion was easily cleared by Oliver. The second was Aidy Boothroyd standard hoofball up to Clive Platt, easily dealt with by Davies.

Garry Thompson set the tone for the scrappy encounter when he went lunging in on Kemar Roofe before Davies nearly turned into his own goal following a Ben Tozer throw in. City then went on a period of domination with Cobblers loanee keeper Lee Nicholls being tested with chance after chance from the Bantams strike force, to be fair to the young lad between the sticks though he wasn’t helped by his centre backs Langmead and Anthony Charles who just simply couldn’t deal with our Bermudan sensation throughout the evening.

As already mentioned, Nahki seems to love playing against the men from Northamptonshire and proved further torment for the all ready struggling Cobblers defence with two long range shots, the first not so well handled but saved nevertheless by Lee Nicholls and the second a dipping volley from distance going over the bar but in between these two strikes, Alex Nicholls had a rare chance from the home side narrowly put a low driving strike wide of Jonny Mac’s post.

Towards the end of the first half, Langmead abandoned all attempts to stop Wells to focus on the surging Garry Thompson, pulling out a well exercised block to stop the ex-Scunthorpe and Morecambe man having the opportunity to cross the ball into the box. The half finished with the official, who for me personally can only be described as a jumped up mini-Hitler, booking Oliver for kicking the ball away to halt a throwing even though the ball hadn’t even left the field of play yet.

The second half proved a more fruitful and entertaining affair for both sets of supporters, as Parkinson and Boothroyd seemed to get their lads motivated during the half time break. This was shown just seconds into the second half when Craig Forsyth had a fascinating tussle with Danny East before unfortunately for the loanee winger his cross come shot sailed over the bar. Lee Nicholls then saved a Wells flick on from a pass from captain Ricky Ravenhill, before the Bantams went and took the lead.

Some beautiful route one stuff from the Bantams led to the goal, but for poor Langmead his worst fears surfaced after 53 minutes being kept at bay. Jon McLaughlin took a goal kick which sailed beautifully through the night sky onto the head of James Hanson, whose flick on then fell to the feet of the man of the moment Wells, who cut through Langmead and Charles to find himself behind the Cobblers defence before tucking the ball past Nicholls into the bottom corner of the goal and send the away end into raptures.

Nahki then delivered a nice touch by calling all the lads over to celebrate with the fans but, Mr Scott did not take to kindly to this sign of support thanking and brandished Wells his fifth yellow card of the season therefore meaning he is suspended for this Saturday’s trip to Burton Albion. Moments later Wells was at it again when his rip roaring strike was well handled by Nicholls, before Hanson blasted a one on one with the keeper from a Forsyth pass over the bar – taking the Northampton Town winger Kemar Roofe name literally in the process and beating the stand to.

Langmead then finally got the better of Nahki, blocking a couple of the Bermudan’s strikes, before Boothroyd realising the need for a goal for his side threw former Bantam loanee Louis Moult on for the struggling Clive Platt. Moult like Platt, however, was then dominated throughout by Davies. Alex Nicholls fired over after a badly timed pass from Nathan Doyle, before the Cobblers mustered their best chance all game. Another Tozer monster throw in was just too high for Davies, before McLaughlin pulled of an absolutely fantastic tipping save from a bullet header by Moult, the one and only time Davies was beaten in the air all game.

PP then realised that two games in four days after nearly two months without first team action was just too far for loanee Forsyth and he was replaced by Will Atkinson; many felt was unlucky not to start following his performance off the bench against Cheltenham on Saturday. Langmead then fell back into his nightmare as he was dragged out onto the wing by Wells, before a fantastic ball through the defence by the Bermudan put Atkinson in one on one with keeper Nicholls, who made a fantastic low save from close range to bundle the ball behind for a corner.

Northampton wasted two very weak chances on goal before City were awarded a free kick. Thompson in a clever attempt to get the ball forward for the free kick instead became the latest victim of Mr Scott as he was instead booked for kicking the ball away, like Oliver in the first half may I add, unfairly booked. A crucial block from a goalmouth scramble after a late free kick from the Cobblers was the last of the action as Parkinson’s men stayed strong defensively and kept the ball out of the goal to get another crucial away victory.

In summary, this was a fantastic win for the Bantams judging that we did make it hard for ourselves, especially in the last quarter where we got a tad complacent and allowed the Cobblers to have chances to take on. Following Saturday and previous occasions this season, winning ugly is becoming a habit and as long as it keeps delivering the points it’s a habit we will take with open arms in the stands. The Tuesday-Saturday rota could go on until the start of December, should cup success be on the cards in the coming 10 days – but all in all, this might, just might, be our year!

City: McLaughlin, McArdle, Davies, Oliver, Meredith, Thompson, Doyle, Ravenhill, Forsyth (Atkinson 78), Hanson, Wells

Not used: Duke, Darby, McHugh, Ritchie Jones, Hines, Connell

Categories: Match Reviews

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