Bradford City 1
Gary Jones 21
Plymouth Argyle 0
Tuesday 20 November, 2012
By Joe Cockburn
The three points was all that mattered tonight as City were matched all over the park by a determined, well-drilled Plymouth side.
The match, however, was somewhat over-shadowed by a seemingly horrific injury to loanee centre-back John Egan, who is looking at possibly over a year out with several leg breaks after an unfortunate landing. Some fans claim they could hear his screams and even hear the bone(s) snap. I’m sure I echo the view of every City fan in wishing John the speediest of recoveries and hoping he comes back fighting fit, whenever that may be.
All in all, the match was a bit of a drab affair. Neither side could gain control of the game, with the ball spending a lot of time in the air, and few chances being created for either side.
The game didn’t start that way, however. The Bantams began the match firmly on top, seeing a lot of possession, and creating a few openings. I personally feared this level of tempo – as well as the immense atmosphere generated from the fantastic support – would come to an end when Egan spent 5 minutes on the ground, receiving treatment from a whole host of medics.
That was when City scored. Just a few minutes after Egan had left the field to be replaced by Carl McHugh, Plymouth failed to clear their lines, and with three City players and two Plymouth defenders surrounding the ball, it managed to fall to Gary Jones, who took a touch to control before slotting neatly into the corner to score what proved the winning goal.
That was when City stopped playing. After that, they slowly allowed the visitors more time and space on the ball by sitting back and inviting pressure onto the defence. This eventually led to Plymouth’s first chance, just before the break. No City defender took charge and they failed to clear their lines. The striker had time and space just inside the City penalty area, but he fired the shot straight at Matt Duke.
I had hoped that that would give City a bit of a wake-up call, and that perhaps Parkinson would get them fired back up for the second period, perhaps threaten a change either at half-time or not long after.
But nothing changed. In actual fact, it did. City got worse.
Plymouth started winning the ball more, getting it down and playing – what City were doing in the first half. In all truth, City struggled to cope with it. We failed to keep possession, we didn’t attempt any form of playing football, it wasn’t working. I think the main reason was that players were becoming passengers. Garry Thompson was a notable example. Nathan Doyle also faded out of the game, and didn’t seem to get involved as much as he usually likes to.
City pretty much got back into it, creating more chances than the away side, but not playing at the level that most City fans both desire and have come to expect. Will Atkinson – who again performed excellently – showed good feet to work an effort on goal, but the Argyle keeper making a decent save.
All in all, City never really looked like losing, the only real scare coming when Plymouth’s number 32, best player and Burnley loanee Alex MacDonald, raced unchallenged through City’s back line, only to lash his shot well wide of the target, with only Matt Duke to beat.
The positive from the game is obviously that City secured the three points, without any real problems. But I think there are a few negatives from the game.
Thompson was poor today. His touch was woeful, he didn’t put a single cross in, and his work-rate was nothing to shout about. I said before the game that this would be his last chance to win the fans over. I don’t think he stands much chance now. He clearly doesn’t like it out wide. He isn’t better than Hanson, and doesn’t have the pace to play with Hanson. That leaves his position extremely vulnerable.
If Phil Parkinson was watching the same game we were all watching, I think one if not two loanee wingers are required before the window shuts at the end of the week. This obviously depends on the extent of Zavon Hines’ injury. What we need is an exciting player. An untried youngster, in the style of Lee Holmes. Pace is a necessity, that was undoubtedly lacking tonight. We need someone to excite the crowd; perhaps a cheeky move for Omar Daley…
I thought Nahki Wells put in another lacklustre performance this evening. He looked just as uninterested as Thompson, didn’t do anywhere near his usual amount of running, and was lazy with the ball. This has been going on for a couple of games now, and needs addressing.
I think also Hanson needs some pressure. There is no competition for his place, and this means he is being allowed to go 16 games without a goal. You may think I bang on about how much I hate him, but I accept he is useful, when he wants to be. But when he doesn’t, we have no way of preventing it. He did OK tonight, but we can’t expect a currently underperforming Wells to do all the scoring.
Obviously, we need another centre-back. I really like Carl McHugh, I think he looks like a quality player with a very high potential, and hope he gets a big chance now to prove his worth. But we need another one. Experience is key, and I think if we could move to get anyone in from another club for free on a permanent deal, then that would be fantastic. I also hope that perhaps if Steve Williams recovers from his under-documented injury troubles, he could perhaps play some part, as I believe he is a more than competent centre-back at this level.
I would also like to throw in a word about Ritchie Jones. I for one thought it was great to see Ritchie back out on the Valley Parade pitch after so long away, and thought he did very well with the touches he had. He is more than good enough to force his way into this team.
Also, I was disappointed not to see Adam Baker on the bench. I thought he did well when he came on at Wigan, and he impressed me a lot when he came on against Northampton. I think he has the ability, and has the belief of the manager to become a good player at this club. I hope to see some more of him in the future weeks and months.
So we didn’t play all that well. It is disappointing, but at the end of the day, a win is a win, and those three points are all that matter.
City: Duke, Darby, Egan (McHugh 18), McArdle, Meredith, Thompson (Ritchie Jones 80), Doyle, Gary Jones, Atkinson, Hanson, Wells (Connell 77)
Not used: McLaughlin, Naylor, Forsyth, Ravenhill
Categories: Match Reviews