Morecambe vs Bradford City preview
@Globe Arena on Tuesday 12th August, 2014
By Mahesh Johal
The introduction to this match preview has been a difficult one to write. With Phil Parkinson taking his men to Morecambe for the First Round of the Capital One Cup, it is tough not to tread over old ground and reminisce about the ‘History Makers’ (last time I use the phrase – maybe). Let’s be honest, the start of this competition serves as an annual reminder of their achievements. Conversing over social media, some believe that fans have clung on to success of that campaign too much whilst others are more than happy to recall their memories. With this in mind, I have genuinely struggled to find the line between recalling, and boring you with events of the 2012-13 season.
In the end, I have decided to plug the Width of a Post marvellous coverage of the League Cup Miracle and give you the opportunity to hark back to those famous nights at your own leisure. With the majority of those ‘History Makers’ (last time – honest) leaving the club, this year’s First Round acts a nice point to end one successful chapter and hopefully start another one. Whilst the personnel bearing the claret and amber shirts are different from the ones we are familiar to watching, Saturday proved that under Parkinson stewardship, the club is entering a new and exciting dawn.
“New kids on the block”
If Saturday was the start of the new chapter, Billy Knott may well have been introduced himself as one of the new lead characters. A bundle of energy, Knott buzzed around the pitch all afternoon and was the player that caught my eye the most. With the ball at his feet, he looked comfortable, whilst his mobility and persistence was the instigator for the first goal. The first newbie to get their own chant, Knott certainly looks to have won the Valley Parade faithful over quickly.
A knock may force him miss tonight’s game but this could open the door for Matty Dolan to get his first start of the season alongside Gary Liddle. A rangy player who gives the side a presence in midfield, Liddle seemed to be in the right place at the right time throughout Saturday’s game. Whilst I am already a bit bored of the constant chatter about ‘the diamond’, it was clear to see the interchangeability within the Bradford engine room, and the positive affect it had in our play. Our midfield still has the vigour and attitude of its predecessors, but there was a mobility, slickness and intricacy that at times tore Coventry apart.
Jason Kennedy and the second coming
Tonight’s midfield should be completed with Mark Yeates and Jason Kennedy. It’s funny what a difference a week makes. Kennedy rightfully got the plaudits in the Monday press but it was only last week that he was rumoured for a move away to Hartlepool. Seven days later, his wonderful dribble and delivery set up the winning goal for James Hanson. Coming into the club last season, there was a pressure on Kennedy. Many, me included, saw how influential he was during his Rochdale days and saw him as the heir apparent to Gary Jones. Compared to last season version, this Kennedy looked relaxed and added balance to the midfield. Maybe this style of play can help get the most of last season’s buys?
Admittedly it may sound that I am getting ahead of myself but I can assure I am not. It is imperative that these midfielders build on the promise shown on Saturday. However I don’t watch this club to moan. I was buoyed by their performance and look forward to their offerings in weeks to come. Whilst it hurt to see some players leave in the summer, the style in which City’s midfield played maybe justified Parkinson’s decision to release some of those familiar faces.
“The Usual Suspects”
With all of last season back four returning, there is a real steel about the side. Albeit two sloppy moments; I thought the defence looked solid on Saturday with Rory McArdle looking his assured best alongside Andrew Davis and Stephen Darby. Added to those is the nonchalance of Alan Sheehan, City have a fantastic defensive foundation for this season. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way to Sheehan either. I just got the feeling watching his cool penalty and general demeanour around the pitch that he is an extremely relaxed and calm individual.
With Christopher Routis yet to receive clearance to play, one would expect Saturday’s back four to start; unless Parkinson wants to give James Meredith or youngster Niall Heaton a run out. The goalkeeper they’ll be guarding is also an unknown. With Jordon Pickford’s loan arrangements making him unavailable, either Matt Urwin or Ben Williams will be make their debut in place of the Sunderland youngster in net.
Finally James Hanson will lead the line after his double heroics on Saturday. My praise cannot be higher for our number nine; both his work rate and his headers to win Saturday’s game were fantastic. Together with Billy Clarke, the forward partnership looked in tune and a threat. Unfortunately Clarke appears likely to miss the game through injury so Aaron McLean has an early chance to reclaim his position in the starting eleven. The response he got from the Kop demonstrates that fans are still behind McLean. But after Clarke’s impressive showing, the competition to partner Hanson is starting to hot up.
Whilst the Capital One Cup and Bradford City will always be synonymous together, I go back to my preview of this January’s Preston North End game. After the signing of three loan players and the exits of Ricky Ravenhill and Alan Connell, I discussed how it was the beginning of the end of the side we loved so much. A full two years on from the start of the competition that made their names, change is complete.