The curiosity builds over Bradford City’s season, following fine win at Motherwell

motherwell

Motherwell 0

Bradford City 3

Leigh 45, Sheehan 63, Hanson 70

Tuesday 14 July, 2015

Written by Kieran Wilkinson (image by Chris Rushton)

A curious thing, these sort of games.

Curious for us fans – what motivates us to make a more than 400-mile round trip and invest time and money to watch what amounts to a training session at athletics stadium on the outskirts of Falkirk? I am one of those fans and even I struggle to answer that. I suspect that the 50 or so other City fans at the match may also have difficulty in giving an answer.

Curious for some of the players too – take Mark Fotheringham and Conrad Balatoni, drafted in to the City side at short notice. According to Simon Parker’s pre-match tweets, both were simply there to make up the numbers, with no real interest from City. How do they approach such a match, given that the chances of it leading to deals for them are slim?

Grangemouth Stadium was itself a fairly curious venue for football, with entrance to the stand being via what appeared to be a leisure centre cafe. A running track around a pitch is never conducive to watching football; however the ground still seemed to be preferable to the unlamented Don Valley Stadium.

As well as Fotheringham and Balatoni, Phil Parkinson gave further chances to ex-Hull keeper Joe Cracknell, Luke “son of John” Hendrie and left-back Greg Leigh (ex-Man City and Crewe). Youth team players Sam Wright, Dylan Mottley-Henry and Joe Brennan also started, with Gary Liddle (again deployed at centre back), Filipe Morais (in a slighty unfamiliar number 10 role) and Luke James the only senior players in the starting line up.

The only real names of note from a City point of view in the Motherwell line up were former loan player Louis Moult and Josh “son of Nicky” Law.

The first half was reasonably lively but was punctuated by more chances for Motherwell than City. A 12th minute corner for ‘Well led to a near post header which beat Cracknell, but thankfully not the crossbar. City were soon after grateful to Luke Hendrie after he managed to prevent attacking play after Sam Wright was too-easily muscled off the ball in midfield.

City’s first decent chance fell to Filipe Morais after around 22 minutes. A decent ball in from the left from Joe Brennan saw Morais balloon an effort over the bar. Motherwell were similarly wasteful in front of goal.

Unfortunately (not least because he had put in a decent shift), Joe Brennan’s afternoon came to an early end around the half hour mark. An attempted challenge saw the youngster jar his knee – suspected ligament damage then saw him leave on a stretcher after a lengthy stoppage. Whilst Brennan has been sent back to Bradford for further examination on the injury, it may well be that his season has finished before it has even got started. Christopher Routis was brought on as a replacement.

As the match approached half time and as some City fans got out their packed lunches (the aroma of one fan’s fish sandwich adding a certain “atmosphere” to proceedings), City managed to break the deadlock. The lively Greg Leigh (who had been one of City’s best players in the first half) was the beneficiary of smart work from Luke James. Leigh rounded the keeper and slotted home to rapturous applause.

Leigh’s trial might be seen as somewhat curious – left back is an area where we have cover so it would seem that, for him to have an opportunity, Alan Sheehan would need to be moved on.

The second half started with the same City line up that finished the first half. However, the fact that the rest of the City team (bar new signing Mark Marshall) had moved from the stand to the bench (and when I say bench, I mean an actual “old skool” old school bench).

Chances in the first ten minutes of this half for City fell to Routis (over the bar) and to Balatoni (a glancing header). Motherwell’s MacLean showed as much striking prowess as the similarly named ex-City striker when he placed the ball over the bar after being set up by Louis Moult.

At the hour mark, the expected mass substitutions were made. Only Cracknell and Dylan Mottley-Henry stayed on, with Tony McMahon, Oh Rory McArdle, Alan Sheehan, James Meredith, Josh Morris, a shaven-headed Billy Knott, Billy Clarke and James Hanson entering the fray.

The impact was near-immediate. A right sided free-kick was rolled by Knott to Sheehan and a fine finish from the defender flew into the right hand corner of the goal. This was a good reminder of why we signed Sheehan in the first place – a decent left peg can add something to a team. We just didn’t see this enough last season.

The game was put to bed before the 70th minute mark. A McMahon corner (won after good work by Mottley-Henry) was floated to James Hanson, stood beyond the far post. His header back across goal beat both keeper and defender on the line.

At around 80 minutes, Motherwell should have had a penalty after what appeared to be a blatant handball in the box but the officials were disinterested.

The referee was however interested when City tried to bring Sam Wright back on, with a frustrated Phil Parkinson seemingly being told that no more substitutions would be allowed.

So, what to take from the match? Yes, it’s only a friendly and so too much shouldn’t be read into any result. However, this was a decent workout against a team who are further into their pre-season than we are. The team can only play what is put in front of them.

Our youngsters showed promise and, from the point of view of the trialists, Greg Leigh and Luke Hendrie both showed potential as squad members.

City: Cracknell, Hendrie (McMahon 62), Balatoni (McArdle 62), Liddle (Sheehan 62), Leigh (Meredith 62), Mottley-Henry (Hendrie 75), Wright, Morais (Clarke 62), Brennan, James (Hanson 62), Brennan (Routis 32), Fotheringham (Knott 62)

Not used: Williams, Morris

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Categories: Match Reviews

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