Bradford City 1
Friday 30 November, 2012
By Joe Cockburn
It was a recurring theme in and around the ground before the game. “We don’t want a replay”. In all truth, it was probably always going to happen. And it was probably a fair result.
The game can only be summed up as an even split. Both sides controlled the game for periods, but a slight lack of the real cutting edge in the final third was evident. City started off brightest, putting Brentford on the back foot and winning a succession of free kicks, but failing to create any real openings.
But then it happened. And it was always going to. Clayton Donaldson scored. A mistake from debutant Curtis Good left Donaldson with just Matt Duke to beat, and to be fair he did so in some style. But there was no need for the celebration.
The game began to slow down after that, the ball spending a lot of the time in the air, with City struggling to win that aerial battle. Brentford had set up to nick it, and they looked like they were going to.
The second half started off in the same way it ended, the game being scrappy, slow and a lot of head tennis. It stayed that way until around the 60th minute, when our first team came on. Ricky Ravenhill, along with the once again disappointing pair of Garry Thompson and Alan Connell were replaced by Gary Jones, Will Atkinson and Nahki Wells. That changed the game.
The team immediately started to play football. Jones, James Meredith and Atkinson linked up superbly, making it look so easy compared to what had gone before. Crosses were coming in, a great ball in from Atkinson somehow evading everyone. The team as a whole looked more confident, James Hanson started winning headers he wasn’t winning in the first half, and the team as a whole just began to play football.
It was another cross from the left that created the equaliser for City. Hanson won the initial header, and when Blair Turgott’s shot rebounded he caught it sweetly on the volley to bring City back into the game. It has been so long since he scored in front of that Kop, it looked like he had forgotten what to do!
The game continued in the same fashion, City stayed in control for the majority of the remaining 20 minutes, and should really have won it, with chances for Hanson, Wells and Jones coming and going. Credit to Matt Duke, who kept City in it with a fantastic close range stop to deny Donaldson a second.
The game finished 1-1, and a trip down South added to the already packed December calendar, meaning City are playing twice a week every week during the final month of 2012.
The game marked a first appearance in City colours for Phil Parkinson’s two mini-deadline day signings, Turgott and Curtis Good.
Good looked a bit shaky at times, and made the crucial mistake for the Brentford goal. I am not quite sure what happened, whether he slipped or misjudged the ball. He did this a few times, and was perhaps lucky not to be punished. Other than that, he looked a decent player. A similar mould to Carl McHugh though, not too tall and physical, and I would rather see us developing our own players than someone else’s.
Turgott struggled to get on the ball a lot of the time, but when he did, he looked dangerous. He rarely lost the ball, and delivered some top notch crosses. He looks like a player who will just get better with every game he plays.
Thompson put in yet another below-par performance, and has lost my faith. Again, he just didn’t look interested. He was getting constantly beat in the air and pushed off the ball by their small, skinny right back, and his pace is pretty non-existent. For the second home game running, I didn’t see him put a single cross in.
Connell also disappointed me, once again. He is very much the “nearly man” everything nearly happens – he nearly gets there, nearly finds the pass, nearly beats a man. He is often too far away from Hanson, meaning the ball will not stick up the field, and they haven’t worked out a routine as to who drops back, and a lot of the time they get caught with no-one up there to pick up the scraps.
Both these players will play on Tuesday night at Port Vale. It was very much a half-strength team, and I think it will be again at Vale Park. The regulars who started tonight like Nathan Doyle, Meredith and possibly Stephen Darby and Hanson will be rested, and I would like to see Ritchie Jones get a game.
I think he is being hard done by. I think he is better than Ravenhill, as well as Thompson, and is just as comfortable in either position. He is a cracking player and I think Parkinson needs to realise, and appreciate this. But then we have two top central midfielders ahead of him.
The Johnstone’s Paint game on Tuesday is another game to rotate the squad and give some others a game, before the real stuff comes back with two tough games, Torquay and Arsenal. I’ll let you decide which is most important.
City: Duke, Darby, McArdle, Good, Meredith, Turgott, Doyle, Ravenhill (Gary Jones 61), Thompson (Atkinson 61), Hanson, Connell (Wells 61)
Not used: McLaughlin, McHugh, Ritchie Jones, Baker
Categories: Match Reviews