Bradford City get back up again to claim a point at the league leaders

Bristol City

Bristol City 2

Flint 8 + 82

Bradford City 2

Clarke 20, Routis 85

Tuesday 21 October, 2014

Image and words by Kieran Wilkinson

Phil Parkinson proved that diamonds aren’t forever by changing to a 4-2-3-1 formation (which at times ended up as a 4-4-2) and ultimately reaping dividends from doing so.

A fairly downbeat build up to the match led to low (or no) expectations. Given recent results, it has been much easier to focus on negatives than the positives and, bearing in mind Bristol City’s current dominance of the league, it was easier to think in terms of (a) how many would we lose by and (b) would Rory McArdle add any further moves to his wrestling repertoire (the smart money being on a Ric Flair style figure four leg lock).

If there was some inevitability to ditching the diamond, Phil Parkinson did at least spring some surprises with his team selection, with James Meredith in place of Alan Sheehan, Christopher Routis in for the suspended Darby and a (second) full debut for Jon Stead (the latter receiving a warm welcome from his old club). Andy Halliday also made a debut, the left winger spending most of the first half on the right hand side. However, it was the change that the manager didn’t make that possibly had the biggest impact on early proceedings.

Andrew Davies did not look fully fit and there is a big question mark (even accounting for his talismanic influence) as to whether he should have started the game. When Bristol City’s Adam Flint headed in from a free kick from the flanks in the right minute, it is arguable that Davies had lost his man and should have done better.

The goal actually seemed to wake City up a little and did result in us pushing a little more. McArdle had a header saved before Billy Clarke headed home from a Mark Yeates cross in the twentieth minute. Things could have turned full circle one minute later, when Yeates and Halliday hit the bar and post respectively within the same move.

City weren’t having it all their own way with Kieran Agard missing a glorious chance from close range.

Inevitably, Davies limped off around ten minutes before half time, the defender looking pretty angry with himself. Presumably another absence beckons? Hopefully not for too long, as we all know the value of a fully fit Andrew Davies.

City weathered a couple more Bristol City attacks and got to half time with honours even. Stead had particularly impressed during the first half, with his tireless work and intelligent passing.

City took a while to get going in the second half, with Bristol City increasing the pressure and playing with the sort of confidence one would expect from a top of the table side. However, the Bantams gradually came back into the game and managed to fashion a few chances of their own, with Halliday and Yeates both having opportunities.

James Hanson was introduced for Clarke midway through the second half and had his usual positive impact that we have come to expect from him. I think it is fair to say that having two big men up front really gave Bristol something different to think about, and it would be interesting to see if the two could play together on a longer term basis (I think service to them would be the key if they did).

City looked to have blown it though, when Flint struck again following a corner. From the away end (admittedly at the opposite side of the ground) this looked like another Jordan Pickford “could do better from a corner” moment (a shame given that he had another otherwise solid match). The goal finally resulted in some noise from the Bristol City fans, who had surprisingly been fairly quietly until that stage.

City kept their heads up and three minutes later, in the eighty fifth minute, Filipe Morais crossed, Hanson headed on and Routis half-volleyed to get his “premier” goal in English football. Routis is fast becoming a cult figure at City, and this goal certainly did no harm to that burgeoning reputation.

City hung on for a deserved point and maintained their good record against Bristol City. It was particularly pleasing to see that, despite recent setbacks, heads didn’t drop and that Phil Parkinson’s statement that we weren’t there to make up the numbers rang true. The stadium announcer played Tubthumping before the game and there was definitely a feeling that we were not going to be kept down.

Now onto cold and windy Oldham to see if we can maintain this.

City: Pickford, Routis, McArdle, Davies (Sheehan 38), Meredith, Kennedy, Liddle, Halliday (Morais 73), Clarke (Hanson 67), Yeates, Stead

Not used: Williams, Dolan, Knott, Mclean

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Categories: Match Reviews

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7 replies

  1. Thanks for the report Kieran, particularly as you stood in for me at the last minute. I was hoping to get a ticket easily enough living near Bristol, but as some will know getting away tx can require more planning when you live away from the Bradford area. As it was, I had to listen to BBC radio Bristol’s commentary which wasn’t quite what I’d planned. I can report they were very complimentary about the Bradford team, as have my colleagues at work today that were there. However, it was a surprise and offered a new perspective to Bristol’s manager Steve Cotterill’s somewhat bias post match interview of the match. It can be heard here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29708345

    • I was at the game and thought it was a hugely entertaining match and I was really proud of the effort commitment and skill of our boys. Bristol were extremely powerful and impressive, and I found Cotterill’s post match “we were off colour” comments quite surprising, as on the form they showed last night most teams in this division will struggle to live with them. Of course we set up conservatively but we certainly did not park the bus and I thought we carried more of a threat throughout than we did in either of the Yorkshire derbies this past week. I can categorically say we are not a “time wasting” team and there was none of the antics we see from opposition at Valley Parade (fake head injuries etc…).
      Indeed when Davies went off – rather than rolling around or calling for a stretcher etc… he limped straight off – Sheehan wasn’t even stripped and ready, and we played the next 2-3 minutes with 10 men ! We have to be cuter than that – all our opponents are….
      Halliday is extremely useful and looks really promising – though he could have scored twice in the first half – the second chance struck the post after the ball bounced back off the bar from Yeates sublime lob, but from where I was, though it was a sharp chance, it was into an open goal and he snatched and missed the target
      I do not think I have seen Yeates so mobile, involved and dangerous in a game – sometimes he does over-elaborate – worse he sometimes loses possession in areas I wish he wouldn’t – but we also need him to be confident and going past players. Best game I have seen him play in a City shirt. Sheehan was immense when he came on, as was Routis throughout. McArdle also put in a typical combative shift and marshalled Wilbraham well (don’t forget he was playing in Premier league last season – he has come on just a bit since we had him on loan). Meredith however looked out of sorts and off the pace – maybe understandable given recent lack of game time.
      Sorry to say from the other end of the ground it looked like Pickford had simply dropped a routine floating cross straight to Flint and we feared he had gifted them all 3 points…happily we had underestimated the bounce-back-ability of this squad.

      PS I didn’t see or hear the Neanderthals mentioned elsewhere – maybe I was lucky to avoid them – just great backing from those around me. The only negativity, if it can be called that, was the fervent hope in the stands that Parkie would NOT introduce McLean. Happily he didn’t. It didn’t seem to upset McLean though as he walked off beforehand, at half time and at full time having a love-in and smiling and chatting with arms around the opposition players – is it just me or isn’t that just a bit off before and during the game – afterwards fine – I like to see good sportsmanship at the end – but I want to see a focussed attitude before and during the match from the whole squad including the subs

      • Ken,

        Forgot to mention the lack of time wasting. I really applaud the team for that and feel it demonstrates the value set that Parkinson has instilled in his players. I’m sick to the back teeth of teams doing that at VP and am proud that my team doesn’t resort to that. I also think that if we had of resorted to those tactics we wouldn’t have had them mindset to go on and get that second goal. Maybe I’m just an old romantic!

        Completely agree about Yeates. I hope he gets a run in the team. I think this will do his confidence a power of good.

  2. I was there and really enjoyed the game. Fair to say that Bristol should have been 2 or 3 up at half time but I thought that the second half defensive performance was outstanding with Bristol being restricted to long range efforts. Also if anyone doubted Hanson’s value to the team last night’s game should dispel those doubts. His physical presence was key. Most heartening of all for me was the team spirit. It would have been easy for them to let their heads drop when the 2nd goal went in so late on in the game having spent most of the half without the ball, but they rallied, believed in themselves, and got the equalizer.

    On the negative side…..

    Another 2 goals conceded at set plays. I thought Yeates played really well last night but was often careless in possession giving the ball away in dangerous areas, (not the only culprit by any means). Also disappointed with some of the Bradford support. I pay money to watch football not to sneer and hurl abuse at the opposition fans. I wouldn’t care but some of them were old enough to be my dad – it’s just embarrassing to see these guys behave in this way. I wish I could take my kids to away games, but sadly it won’t be anytime soon….

    All in all though a very good result marred by half a dozen idiots and by me crashing the car on the way home….

  3. I, too, was there and I thought we put in a terrifically disciplined, skilled and confident performance littered with grit and determination. In my opinion, Stead led the line superbly and I agree with a poster above that Sheehan was immense, in fact I would go as far as to say the defence looked (and felt) more secure and solid after the change (Sheehan for Davies). I also think that Davies was culpable for Bristol’s first goal. Halliday looks a good prospect, willing to carry the ball forward and Yeates was, as Phil Parkinson has said, on a different level at times. This result needs to be built on now – a similar performance at Oldham and let’s start believing we can do it at home!

  4. I hope all those empty seats in the photo were filled. I contacted both clubs on Tuesday afternoon to try get a ticket and neither seemed to want to put themselves out to help. It was a bit late but I would like to think it really was full especially as I seem to have missed a top performance. Last season at Ashton Gate was probably the worst experience getting into a ground ever. Arrived 2.15 pm, queued to get ticket, got in at 3.05pm just before the powers that be at Bristol recalled the existence of cash, turnstile and gateman. We go up, they stay down … that should solve the problem.

    • Hi Mike
      the ground was certainly full by kick off (home end). I had long planned to attend and had put a business meeting in Bristol in my diary deliberately. I only realised on Monday evening that it was all ticket. I drove into Ashton gate at 10.30 on Tues, smiled and showed them my City season ticket and they sorted me out a ticket in our end as long as I didn’t shout about it. Their ticket office was absolutely abuzz by the way and lots and lost of staff there. Lovely people – it looked and felt like a very professional set-up.
      That said I had EXACTLY the same experience as you last season of queuing for an age before they got staff sorted out – they were caught out by the size of our following that day I suspect.

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