Looking for greater consistency as Bradford City go to Colchester United

City v Dons - TG 2

Picture by Thomas Gadd.

Colchester United vs Bradford City preview

@Colchester Community Stadium on Saturday 20 September, 2014

By Andrew Baxter

The difference in performance between the dismal home showing against Yeovil two weeks ago, and the gritty, well-earned win at MK Dons in midweek really epitomises the inconsistent nature of Bradford City’s start to the season.

Yet from such inconsistencies come more positives than negatives. The form of players such as Jason Kennedy and Mark Yeates (both very much on the fringes of the City squad last season) has provided the impetus for a team that, on its day, look capable of beating anyone (as shown in the both the Leeds and MK Dons games).

The difference in the quality of performances from Phil Parkinson’s new signings, too, is definitely a positive. Whilst, last season, new arrivals such as Yeates and Kennedy showed brief glimpses of their ability (think of Yeates’ fantastic strike in the opening home game of the season against Carlisle), they never really had a consistent run of games in which they produced their best.

Contrast this to the form of Billy Knott, Billy Clarke and Gary Liddle, who have produced some quality performances. All three have shown, in various ways, their ability to make a difference.

Another Parkinson signing (albeit on a season-long loan), Jordan Pickford, has divided opinions amongst the Valley Parade faithful. Whilst he has made some bad mistakes and gifted goals to the opposition, his shot-stopping, and in particular his distribution, cannot be questioned. Pickford’s ability to pick out a man, and quickly, means that City can break at pace; and his vision in such instances is remarkable for an inexperienced keeper, who is only 20 years old.

The mistakes in Pickford’s game are most likely down to inexperience, and the likelihood is that he will iron out these flaws, and become a better goalkeeper in the coming weeks and months.

However, Pickford’s inexperience at coming out and collecting corners exploits what is probably City’s biggest flaw at the minute: set pieces. The Bantams defending, in such instances, has hardly been convincing – with goals being leaked by this route in three consecutive games.

Perhaps Alan Sheehan’s lack of height at centre back has contributed to this? Sheehan, at 5ft 10in, is a good 5 inches smaller than Andrew Davies, and Davies’ ability to put his head in where it hurts, and put his body on the line, is being missed by City. Christopher Routis fared well at MK Dons, in place of the suspended Sheehan, midweek.

Davies has been a rock at the back for City during his spell here, and the current side’s ability to defend without him will be tested once more, against the quality of Colchester United’s Sanchez Watt and Freddie Sears.

Sears scored in midweek, but it wasn’t enough for the U’s, as they squandered a two-goal lead in a dramatic game at home to Sheffield United. With 82 minutes on the clock Colchester were 2-0 up, through goals from midfielder George Moncur and Sanchez Watt. However, a mad spell of three goals in five minutes completely turned the game on its head, with Sheffield United winning 3-2.

Should manager Tony Humes continue with the same starting eleven that came so close against Sheffield United, then Sam Walker will start in goal, with a back four of Sean Clohessy, Tom Eastman, Frankie Kent and Ben Gordon. Colchester will continue with a midfield three of George Moncur, Alex Gilbey and Sammie Szmodics, and upfront will be Sanchez Watt, Sean Massey and Freddie Sears.

As for City, James Hanson, Andrew Davies and Matthew Dolan all miss out through injury, and Sheehan is still suspended. Hanson will miss out on Saturday, but it appears like his thigh injury won’t rule him out for too long. Pickford will continue in net, with Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle, Routis and James Meredith making up the back four.

In midfield, Liddle will continue his holding midfield role, with Knott and Kennedy in central midfield. Yeates may start behind the front two of Aaron McLean and Billy Clarke, with Hanson ruled out.

Colchester have had a poor start to the season, collecting just five points from their opening eight games, and Saturday would be a good opportunity for City to build some momentum ahead of next Tuesday’s League Cup tie at MK Dons.

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