Saturday’s hugely frustrating 1-1 draw with Gillingham was a game of two phases – before Bradford City’s goal and how they attempted to defend their lead after it. Width of a Post pundits Alex Scott, Damien Wilkinson, Gareth Walker and Mahesh Johal pick the bones out of the Bantams’ performance.
Damien: An absolutely classic City performance. And by that I mean it contained all the hallmarks of countless performances that have gone before.
Dodgy opposition on a rocky run, home team with an allergy to collecting three points in one go and despite lots of pressure and many chances the inevitability of squandering a win hung over Valley Parade massively during the last 15 minutes or so.
Before the goal, I thought we started off very well. The new found confidence from the last two matches was very much in evidence and Mark Yeates, Filipe Morais, Jon Stead and Gary Liddle caught the eye with some smart passing and movement, whilst also taking care of the uglier side of things. Despite this, and some good chances, it always looked the Gills carried a threat, either from set pieces or deliveries into the box.
After the goal that we clearly deserved, you might have realistically expected us to go on and win the game comfortably. At that stage Gillingham looked there for the taking. However, this followed a period of chances that in isolation looked unlucky or unfortunate but in combination were somewhat baffling, and particularly after the introduction of James Hanson, a number of efforts almost resembled back passes to Stuart Nelson in the Gills’ goal.
There also seemed to be an unwillingness to shoot from distance (which seems to becoming a common theme) and whilst I thought Billy Clarke had a good game and worked extremely hard, there were a good number of opportunities when he always favoured a pass rather than pulling the trigger.
The last 15 minutes or so seemed to see us hit the panic button and go all last ditch with the clearances and passing. At one point it really felt like the last few seconds and I was disappointed to note there were still 13 minutes left!
So, despite getting to 90 minutes, the four additional minutes always spelled danger and you knew what a further corner or set piece would result in. After the euphoria of last week’s turnaround this felt like a defeat. Taylor really went for the jugular with his subs which was in stark contrast to Phil Parkinson – and sometimes going so gung ho pays off, as we unfortunately saw.
The problem is that if we had held on and won, most would have been purring regarding us turning a corner, making a play offs push etc – and that probably made the equaliser even more bitter, combined with our wretched home form.
The fact we haven’t managed three wins on the trot for a considerable amount of time speaks volumes too…
Gareth: I completely agree with Damien. Before we scored I thought that we played very well, although Gillingham’s defensive approach did allow us to dominate possession. The concern was that we didn’t create too many chances and those that we did create were squandered, so we only led 1-0.
After the goal Gillingham came out more as they had to, and it was evident that we didn’t have the pace in the side to hit them on the break.
I actually felt that the equaliser was coming, and it was just a shame it came from a set piece again. It was very poor defending because Andy Halliday made a hash of a clearance, which led to the corner, and then the corner itself was a ball to the back post which was the only move that Gillingham had tried from corners all afternoon.
In the end though we still had the chances, even when we were winning, to go further in front and a draw felt more like a defeat than two points dropped.
Mahesh: I thought we were the better team prior to going one up. We’ve rightly talked about Mark Yeates’ form recently (and he again looked a threat) however it was Jon Stead who caught my eye.
I’m a massive advocate of James Hanson, but Stead offers us a different type of threat. I thought his presence and link up play caused the Gills numerous problems. It was his pass that set up Billy Knott, who wastefully missed the chance to give us the lead in the first half.
I understand what Gareth means, but I think had Knott scored in the first half we could have killed the game off in the first forty five minutes.
I appreciate there is a pressure playing at home; especially with our poor record at Valley Parade. However, I was surprised at how nervous and twitchy the players got. We just went into our shell.
We’d hit the post twice, had a goal a disallowed. We’d proved that by attacking and pressurising Gillingham that we were a threat. To change our shape and play with one striker was disappointing to see and, with this growing fear factor at Valley Parade, it cost us three deserved points.
Alex: I thought they played well, the ball just didn’t break their way. It’s difficult not to slant negatively after conceding an equaliser in the 93rd minute, but looking at the bigger picture it was a decent performance across the board. Especially after losing Morais almost straight away, who has been such an important player for them over recent weeks.
As Mahesh and Damien have alluded to, as did the manager, it wasn’t the slack defending at the end as much as the profligate finishing which cost them in the end. As with basically any team in the country, if you don’t have a 15-20 goal a year striker, you’re going to have to be really good everywhere else. And City aren’t at the moment.
Given the make-up of the team, games like this are going to happen. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in. You can only keep trying to put yourselves in a position to win. And given the last couple of months, that they have started to do so can only bode well.
I was actually pleasantly surprised about how they managed the game, pretty much throughout. As City didn’t see out the game, it’s difficult to defend their performance after taking the lead, but I really think the reaction is a bit outcome-driven. Gillingham went three and then four up front toward the end, so it’s understandable that Parkinson reinforced the defence and midfield, and each of the substitutions at the time were logical and made sense given the way the game was going.
Maybe if they left Hanson and Clarke on up top and they might have got another chance to ice the game, but at the same time, there is no guarantee they’d have taken it (especially if the first 80 minutes were anything to go by) and it could just as easily have gone the other way.
As it was happening, I was quite pleased with how they were shutting the game down, wasting time and seeing out the clock. They didn’t look in any real danger at any point. The exact same thing did actually happen last week at Preston too, City just managed to get another that time.
But four points, and two decent performances on the turn should be a reason for optimism, not second guessing.
Categories: The Verdict