Bradford City 1
Northampton Town 0
Saturday 6 April, 2013
By Joe Cockburn
It finally feels good to be a Bantam for the first time since mid-January, as City sit two points outside the play off spots with a game in hand.
It wasn’t just the result at Valley Parade that mattered, however, with the bonus of every single team in the play off spots losing. City find themselves in a favourable position, with plenty of points still to play for.
Not only is the position favourable, but the form. Exeter are losing games for fun at the moment, and Rotherham can’t win away from the New York Stadium. Not only these two sides directly above us, but above them Burton, Cheltenham and, of course, Northampton all lost, as well as Fleetwood who sat in eighth at 3 o’clock. That means that not only seventh, the final play off place, well within our reach, but automatic promotion isn’t too far away.
The game itself was somewhat of a thriller. Both sides with chances to win it, both keepers were kept busy and, as per usual, the referee was very much at the centre of the action.
City were on top for the majority of the game, creating the more clear cut chances, and should probably have won the game by a greater margin. Good moves created chances for Garry Thompson, Kyel Reid and Nahki Wells either side of the half time whistle, but they couldn’t convert and make the closing stages that little more comfortable.
Northampton had chances themselves, two goal line scrambles, a Clarke Carlisle header and a Dan Harding volley which produced an outstanding save from Bantams’ stopper Jon McLaughlin. Super Jon ringing round Valley Parade for several minutes after. Lee Nicholls in the Northampton goal himself made several fine saves, from Reid and Thompson, as well as a Rory McArdle effort which would have been chalked off by over-officious referee Trevor Kettle.
Kettle, and his linesmen it must be said, certainly made their presence known, making sure they got involved at the end of every move. The crowd certainly knew who he was, on his back in the first five minutes with fouls from both the Cobblers’ left wing duo. He gave some awful decisions, most notably giving a corner and a goal kick to Northampton (on separate instances it must be said) when no City player was anywhere near getting a touch on the ball.
But ultimately, City came out on top, and deserved the three points they earned, propelling them to eighth and one win away from a play off berth.
It was probably the defence that did the job. Everyone knows how Northampton like to play, and the defenders, most notably Andrew Davies, stood firm, despite a few expected shaky moments from Rory McArdle.
James Meredith impressed once again, getting forward well to support Reid throughout, but also doing a great job defensively, especially battling against winger and sun to head the ball in the first half.
Reid himself was in decent form, using his pace to good effect, but he didn’t cross as much as he usually does, and cut inside looking for a shot too much for my liking. Especially when he is blatantly left-footed. Only one of his efforts troubling Nicholls.
I thought Thompson looked slightly out of sorts, failing to establish himself in the game, and was rightly replaced by Hines around the 70-minute mark. Thompson looked a bit leggy, and perhaps a rest may do him good on Tuesday after a lot of football and a lot of running lately.
But it was Wells who grabbed all the attention in the attack, showing a sharpness and willingness that we haven’t seen from him in a while. His goal – the game’s only – was fortunate, but only scored due to his persistent pressure and running following a mix up between Nicholls and Carlilse. A carbon copy of the one he scored courtesy of Michael Duberry against Oxford earlier in the season.
All in all, a good performance for City, setting us up well for the run in. But we have to keep our attention on the teams around us, and not just the teams above us. Chesterfield are catching the eye, finding even better form than City and sitting just one point behind, despite having played a game more than the Bantams. Next weekend’s game in Derbyshire has suddenly become of great importance.
A win on Tuesday would see City definitely in the play offs, as Rotherham and Exeter are playing each other and goal difference is in the Bantams’ favour. However, not in the City’s favour is the next visitor’s form – Bristol Rovers losing only two of their last 10, and those coming against Northampton and Chesterfield. But everyone at Valley Parade will be confident of the home side getting the desired result.
One final thing of note was the support. The backing from the crowd today was fantastic, especially in the last 10-15 minutes when the team was clearly tiring. All four sides of Valley Parade in strong voice to push the Claret and Amber army to victory.
A good day at the office, one may say.
City: McLaughlin, Darby, Davies, McArdle, Meredith, Thompson (Hines 72), Ravenhill, Jones, Reid, Hanson, Wells (Atkinson 90)
Not used: Duke, Nelson, McHugh, Doyle, Connell
Categories: Match Reviews