More of the same as Notts County come to town

Mike (6)

Bradford City vs Notts County preview

@Valley Parade on Tuesday 26 November, 2013

By Joe Cockburn (picture by Mike Holdsworth)

It was great to get back to winning ways at MK Dons on Saturday, but it is vital that that is continued when Notts County visit Valley Parade this evening.

While we obviously won the game and showed fantastic spirit to keep going and never be behind, we were second best for a lot of the game, and once again had to rely on Jon McLaughlin to keep us in it on a number of occasions.

One positive of the match was the performance of the midfield duo. Jason Kennedy was excellent, and his presence seemed to pick Gary Jones’ game up and they worked really well as a midfield partnership. I personally love the way Kennedy plays, with intelligence and awareness and not staying on the ball too long, even if it means a pass backwards to a defender. Yet he did what he had been criticised for not doing previously; he did play a number of clever forward balls, and obviously pushed forwards to grab the winner.

Another stand out performance at the stadiumMK for me was James Hanson. He did what I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do before, and changed his style to play in relation to how the defenders are playing against him, and also to suit the pitch. He realised that the defenders were standing off him a little; they knew they wouldn’t win anything; so rather than flicking it on to the centre halves who had dropped off, he was constantly bringing the ball down and giving it into Jones, Kennedy or Kyel Reid and starting an attack. He really played effectively and I would hope he plays a similar way tonight, should Wells not be able to play.

I mentioned it before, but this season McLaughlin continues to impress me. He seemed a bit shaky at the start of the season but with a bit of confidence from the management and the assurance that he is now the fully fledged number one, he has shown why he deserves that shirt. His brilliance when it comes to 1 on 1s continues to amaze me, the amount of goals that has saved us this season cannot go unnoticed.

But, why has he had to face those 1 on 1s? After being so excellent last season, I hate to say it, but Rory McArdle is beginning to be a bit of a liability for us. Again, on Saturday, he got caught on his heels when a through ball was played, and it cost us another goal. His downfall, for me, is a necessary change in his defending style, due to the loss of Andrew Davies. Davies’ injury has meant that McArdle has had to play the role of the big, hard centre back who comes and meets things in the air, rather than more the sweeper of the two which he was before.

I think, if anything, he just needs a rest, a game off and I think tonight could be ideal. I am all for trying to create a partnership between him and Bates, but just like anywhere else, someone making constant mistakes and someone who is in poor form should be replaced. Perhaps now is the time before McArdle costs us any more goals.

Garry Thompson was again poor, for me, at MK Dons. He doesn’t come and show for the ball enough, and plays against his full back like he is up front and they are the last man; trying to get a run on him and latch on to a ball over the top. And this doesn’t work. For an away game, Thompson is good as he puts the work in defensively, which he certainly did on Saturday. MK Dons had two dangerous wingers and the one on their side was much quieter than Alli on the other, who had more space against the more attacking duo of Meredith and Reid.

But with this sickness bug, if this is going to keep Reid out, Parkinson may opt for Thompson and Mark Yeates rather than, if Reid is fit, hopefully playing Reid with Yeates on the right. This option hasn’t been used yet and I’d like to see it given a chance.

And what if there is no Wells? Well, once again, Caleb Folan was nowhere to be seen on Saturday, for whatever reason. He seems to be not the answer to this problem. Nor is Alan Connell with the same bug. So, we are left with everyone’s best friend Andy Gray, or one of the two youngsters; McBurnie or new boy Clarkson (who incidentally also wasn’t around on Saturday, thought he’d have at least been warming up with the team pre-match).

I don’t see many reasons not to give McBurnie a shot. Without wanting to be complacent (Tranmere ringing alarm bells in my head) having McBurnie in our side certainly won’t decrease our chances of winning by much. So why not? I certainly had enough of Yeates in behind after that disaster at Crawley. Play McBurnie and give Clarkson 15/20 minutes at the end.

Notts County aren’t to be taken lightly though. Shaun Derry still hasn’t won a match yet, losing all 4 of his first games, but the last two have been 1-0 defeats, including to Wolves. It isn’t hard to predict how they will play at Valley Parade, they’ll be out to frustrate City and we will have to be patient.

If you look at the fixtures before we play the return fixture with the Magpies; City travel to Peterborough in between hosting Leyton Orient and Rotherham. The only two we can look at taking 3 points from are Oldham and Swindon, so we need to be beating Notts County.

Here’s to optimism!

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