Where there’s no Wells there’s still a way

Bradford City 2

Reid 60, Hanson 90

Shrewsbury Town 1

Bradshaw 2

Saturday 28 September, 2013

By Mahesh Johal

James Hanson’s injury time winner was enough to help Bradford City beat Shrewsbury Town and maintain their unbeaten home record. Things did not start well for the Bantams, going a goal down to a second minute header from Tom Bradshaw. But an inspired display from Kyel Reid saw the winger level proceedings, before Hanson fired home in the fourth minute of added time.

Luke Oliver was the only change from last week’s side that defeated Gillingham. The big defender replaced Rory McArdle, who was forced to miss the game through illness. Oliver’s presence in the defence could not help City during the first visitors’ attack, where a mistimed jump from James Meredith gave Ryan Wood the time and space to dink a looping ball to the back post. It was headed back across the face of goal by Adam Reach, and Bradshaw was on hand to head home.

City appeared to recover from the shock of going a goal down for the first time on home soil, with Reid the most potent outlet. However, it wasn’t the fluent and composed team performance, compared to what we have seen over the past few months at Valley Parade. It was difficult to put a finger on exactly on what the problem was, but credit should not be taken away from the visitors who looked a threat when in attack.

After Andrew Davies was caught in possession, the Shrews had the chance to score again after Bradshaw crossed the ball but, fortunately for the Bantams, they were able to clear the danger. The game’s pace increased throughout the first half, and Nahki Wells fired a free kick straight at goalkeeper Chris Weale after Gary Jones was brought down. The chance was unfortunately the Bermudian’s first and last of the game.

After a pretty innocuous foul from Dave Winfield, Wells was left in a heap and struggled with what appeared to be an ankle injury. The in-form striker attempted to run it off, but he was unable to do so and was substituted for Mark Yeates. In the end, Nathan Doyle was needed to help Wells hobble off the pitch. The Valley Parade crowd seemed stunned to see their talisman leave the field and many asked the question: how would City play without him?

Yeates appeared to play the ‘number ten’ role behind Hanson. The former Watford man combined well with Reid and Meredith, and the left back’s chipped delivery saw Yeates head straight at the keeper. City’s left hand side appeared the likely source for a goal, but the same could also be said about Shrewsbury’s, with Reach and Curtis Main playing very well. The latter was the pantomime villain throughout the game, especially after bundling into Jon McLaughlin after the keeper juggled a shot on the line. Booked by the referee, Main seemed to enjoy the role of winding up the crowd. A neat player, he was part of all things positive for the visitors.

The Bantams finished the half the stronger of the two teams with Reid again proving a real threat. After winning the ball in the opponent’s half, City’s number seven unleashed a stinging drive which was well saved by Weale. Shrewsbury’s shape proved difficult to breakdown, and with the loss of Wells there was a sense of unease among the home fans. Two questions to ponder during half time: could we score without Wells, and how badly was he injured?

City started the second half positively, but again it was Shrewsbury who came closest with a long range free kick from Darren Jones. Soon after, Reach’s galloping run was nearly converted by Bradshaw, who clipped into the side netting.

Reid continued to be a threat and had an appeal for a penalty turned down after falling in the box. He was truly Bradford’s X factor today and carried the attack to the Shrews. His efforts were backed up by Hanson. The frontman worked tirelessly and started to win the physical battle with the visiting backline.

Reid’s efforts and persistence finally paid off, with the winger scoring his second goal of the season to equalise. After Garry Thompson was able to track down a hopeful ball, Yeates’ cross was missed by Hanson but slotted home by Reid, to the relief of the adoring Kop.

After pressuring and winning the ball off Winfield, Hanson was then brought down cynically by the defender who was rightly booked. City were unable to convert from the resulting free kick, but Hanson and Reid were starting to become more and more influential. Jones also became more of a force throughout the game.

Raffa De Vita and Alan Connell were brought on to try and find a City winner, a possibility greatly enhanced after the 88th minute sending off of Winfield. He was judged to have blocked Yeates’ shot with his hand and, already booked, his second yellow was the third visitor red card of the season at Valley Parade. Connell then fell to the floor in the box; however, it looked a soft appeal and was rightly waved away by the referee.

Then, in the final minute of injury time, it happened – City scored and everyone went crazy. Partly because of the emotion, I don’t really know how Hanson fired home the winner. After the ball dropped to City’s number nine, all I remember seeing was the ball squeeze in the net and pandemonium occurring in the stands. A superb moment.

The result proved we can score and win without Wells. We now have to wait to see the severity of the injury, which appears not to be as bad as first thought. Whilst his loss will mar this fine victory, we should not overlook the second half performance and in particular that of Reid. He was phenomenal today, and thoroughly deserved his goal and man of the match award.

With one match winner down it’s time for other to stand up. Thankfully on today’s showing, City proved they have several of them in their side.

City: McLaughlin, Darby, Oliver (Connell 90), Davies, Meredith, Thompson (De Vita 77), Doyle, Jones, Reid, Hanson, Wells (Yeates 23)

Not used: Ripley, McHugh, Ravenhill, Gray

Categories: Match Reviews

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2 replies

  1. Reid was superb and players like Hanson, Doyle and Meredith improved in the second half. However, my man of the match was Stephen Darby. He was our best defender in the first half as unfortunately both Davies and Meredith were way below their best in the first half. As the game progressed, Darby played more of his game in the Shrewsbury Town half and linked up well with Thompson and then De Vita when he came on as a substitute. At one point in the second half, Darby made a great sliding tackle then got up and carried the ball about 30 yards before finding a team mate with a pass. How often has it been stated on this website that Darby is our unsung hero. I appreciated Reid’s performance and understand why he got the man of the match but I’ll fly the flag for Stephen Darby. As those of in our 40’s and beyond will remember…”I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you..”

    • Richard, I think you bring up an excellent point about both Darby and Meredith. If anything I probably understated how good they were in the second half – in particular Darby who yet again was brilliant in both attack and defence.

      I just hope next time he makes one of those mazy runs into an opponents half, he tries another long range attempt like he did against Burton. I think every City fan would enjoy celebrating a goal scored by him

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