Bradford City 2
Oldham Athletic 0
Saturday 28 March, 2015
By Mahesh Johal
After a turbulent week, which saw Alan Sheehan leave on loan to Peterborough, Bradford City went back to basics and ground out a hard fought victory over Oldham. The game was not pretty but performances like today are the ones most appreciated by the Valley Parade faithful.
Billy Clarke’s double was the difference, his first a tap in from a Billy Knott’s corner. His second in the ninety-third minute ensured that there was no repeat of last week’s last minute heartache.
Against a decent Oldham side, City won this even affair thanks to their increased work rate and commitment. This was one of those games where every player ran themselves into the ground; every player was fully committed in the tackle; every player put their head in where it hurt. In essence, this was a classic Phil Parkinson team performance.
The embodiment of Parkinson’s team is Andrew Davies. He is everything above, and more. Unfortunately his return to the starting eleven lasted only fifteen minutes. A hamstring problem is now the latest snag to add to the defender’s growing list of injuries. There was an all too familiar groan rumble out of the Kop upon seeing Davies clutch his leg. As he hobbled off the pitch, there was sense that our play off hope was limping away with him to the changing room.
An issue throughout Parkinson’s reign, replacing an injured Davies is at times an impossible task. However is Gary MacKenzie the answer to our dilemma? He is proving an able deputy and today produced his best performance in a City shirt. He seamlessly fitted in our ever consistent and present back four. He won everything in the air and on the floor. He was confident on the ball and solid in the tackle. Heck, his performance was Davies-esque.
The Latics played the boggy conditions well with Conor Wilkinson having a great opportunity to put them in front. However he wasted a clear chance, shooting wide when in the area. City had their own opportunities, James Hanson and Gary Liddle both missing the best of them.
Firstly Hanson headed wide after good work from Jon Stead. All of Valley Parade were waiting to see the net bulge but the striker headed his effort into the away end. Garry Liddle was then put through on goal after great build up work by Clarke and James Meredith. A top chance to put City up just before half time, Liddle shot his effort well wide of the target.
Wasted chances were becoming a running theme throughout the game and Wilkinson again missed an opportunity to put Oldham ahead. Similar to his one in the first half, Wilkinson blasted his effort wide.
A game lacking real quality and cutting edge, it was an unlikely source that settled City down. With Mark Yeates and Billy Clarke struggling to get the ball down on the deck, Christopher Routis provided a level of composure lacking in the City ranks. Is he the long term answer to the right midfield position? Probably not. I’m not even sure what his best position is and his versatility maybe is a reason for this.
However Routis is an intelligent footballer and is proving a valuable asset to this squad. He has confidence galore and his calmness on the ball was a major reason City got a firm grip in the second half.
With City pressure growing, the Bantams finally took the lead thanks to Billy Clarke. Billy Knott’s corner caused havoc in the Oldham box and after several flick ons the ball finally fell to the Irishman to tap home. With the Valley Parade in full voice, Clarke could have doubled his tally. After harrying work from Routis and Liddle, Stead found the ball stuck in his feet in the area. Unable to get the shot away, his lay off to Clarke resulted in a tame effort rolling into Joel Coleman’s hands.
With four minutes of injury time, nerves were jangling within the stands. However there would be no let up this time and City saw this game out in style. Stead and Clarke again combined, this time Clarke successfully passing his shot past Coleman in front of a relieved Kop.
So the play off race is well and truly back on. There are so many positives for the club that came out of today, however I feel it only right that the final words of this report be dedicated to our counterparts in the TL Dallas Stand.
On behalf of Bradford City fans I would like to pay thanks to the visiting supporters. Their reaction to the Disability Team, who played an exhibition match during half time, was absolutely fantastic. They created a wonderful atmosphere for the Disability Team and I am sure they enhanced the experience for all of the players. Finally, their act of kindness in the fifty-sixth minute was a lovely touch and one greatly appreciated by the Bantams.
City: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Davies (MacKenzie 17), Meredith, Liddle, Routis (McMahon 85), Yeates (Knott 64), Clarke, Hanson, Stead
Not used: Alnwick, Dolan,Mottley-Henry, Zoko
Categories: Match Reviews