By Matt Briggs
As much as Saturday’s dramatic late win over Shrewsbury was a shot in the arm for Bradford City’s early-season momentum, it was more of a triumph for Phil Parkinson’s Plan B.
The last-gasp win was a terrific result when you consider the early goal conceded and the injury to Nahki Wells. Still, City crucially found a way to win without their talisman.
The substitution was enforced on the City boss, and Wells’ first-half injury meant a change from the norm with the fruitful strike partnership of James Hanson and hitman Wells being broken. But the City gaffer still had a choice to make and could easily have brought on Andy Gray or Alan Connell to fill in for Wells, with both frontmen champing at the bit for a taste of first-team action. So credit where credit is due to Parkinson for having the invention and foresight to bring on Mark Yeates ‘in the hole’.
A few people, including myself turned their noses up at the introduction of the cheeky Irishman, but I bow to Parkinson’s greater judgement because Yeates was inspired. Four-four-two has been Parkinson’s mantra from day one and who’s to argue with him after last year’s promotion and League Cup success? But up a division, there might just come a time when the tried and tested doesn’t work.
We’ll never know whether or not City would have won without Wells at the weekend, but I rather suspect the defensively-minded Shrews would have dug in for a hard-earned point or even better.
Yeates though put paid to any ideas Shrewsbury had of returning to Shropshire with a point.
His adopted position, just in behind Hanson, allowed him time and space to become the architect of City’s second-half comeback. He laid on the impressive Kyel Reid’s equaliser and played the winger in a couple of other times as the Bantams fought back gamely.
Yeates still has the ability to play in the Championship and he knows it. His close control, movement and vision was testament to his 140 games in the second tier and he looked a class act ready to thread the ball through the eye of a needle at every opportunity.
The former Watford man was a big culprit in the 5-0 cup debacle at Hartlepool early last month and it is no coincidence that he hasn’t started a game since. But he look ‘refreshed’ – probably via a boot up his backside from Parkinson and his able assistant, Steve Parkin. But it worked and now City have a worthy plan b with a man who can prompt from the hole.
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