Home is where the hurt is

Image by Thomas Gadd (thomasgadd.co.uk)

Image by Thomas Gadd (thomasgadd.co.uk)

Bradford City 0

Peterborough United 2

Angol 56, Forrester 57

Saturday 26 September, 2015

By Damien Wilkinson

Bradford City’s five match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end in a disappointing afternoon, when two goals in as many minutes saw them sunk by a Peterborough side making a winning debut for new manager Graham Westley.

The result was all the more frustrating on the back of last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Sheffield United after cruising at 2-0, and more worryingly the Bantams’ home record now shows a paltry return of five points from five matches so far this season; hardly a bedrock for a promotion push.

Peterborough, after a poor start to the season, had pitched up hoping to make amends under Graham Westley; chairman Darragh McAnthony appointing the former Stevenage and Preston boss during the week, replacing Dave Robertson sacked earlier in the month.  This was met with mixed responses, particularly given progress under caretaker Grant McCann in last two games (who remains as Assistant Manager).

Presumably to quell any unrest, Westley took the step of writing to season ticket holders promising an attacking brand of play, which included a minimum standard of 600+ passes a game, leading to 25+ attempts at goal in line with the “very highest of standards” set by the “ambitious” Chairman.  Passing figures that would probably prompt even Arsene Wenger into cries of ‘hoof it forward for God’s sake’, but a marker laid down by all accounts!

Posh midfielder Jermaine Anderson missed the match having been sent off in the previous match against Walsall after an incident involving a drinks bottle thrown into the crowd.  The 19 year old England youth international later claiming it was accidental.

As anticipated, the Bantams made no changes with keeper Brad Jones making his second appearance for the club, and hoping to establish a regular place in the team.  Given his appearance record over the past few seasons it must be difficult to come into a team ‘cold’ and whilst Ben Williams has the right to feel disappointed, Phil Parkinson presumably feels Jones should now be given an opportunity to overcome any rustiness and provide the City backline with some stability.

Under the terms of his season long loan Luke James was ineligible for selection but City thankfully resisted the temptation to throw Luke James into an Assistant Manager role to mirror the bizarre situation involving former City player Aaron Mclean in the last match versus Peterborough down at London Road last season!

Peterborough commenced the match seemingly trying to adhere to Westley’s passing directive, with a 14 passes in the first minute being counted out by some in the City crowd.  City responded and began to impose themselves on the game.  However whilst the effort seemed to be there, there was no repeat of last week’s first half against Sheffield United in terms of intensity or incisiveness, and most pressure generally fizzled out in the final third.

Devante Cole, in a similar fashion to the Sheffield United match, had a quiet first half and seemed a little off the pace again and didn’t exert himself on play enough.  It is to be hoped that his explosive start to his time at City is not placing too much pressure on the 21 year old and he is given the appropriate time to develop.   Mark Marshall also had a frustrating half, whilst getting in a number of good positions several times, he then didn’t seem to want to take his man on, or didn’t manage to get a decent cross in.

Peterborough, however, also showed similar failings and there weren’t many real clear cut chances out in a half which was the epitome of mediocrity to say the least.

Unfortunately City were rocked by what appears to be a serious injury to Paul Anderson after 35 minutes.  In what looked like a fairly tasty 50:50 challenge at that time (Phil Parkinson later claiming the Peterborough player, Michael Bostwick, left a foot in after a lunge), Anderson, equally committed in the challenge, went down in a heap, and after a significant delay and appearance of the stretcher, hobbled off in much discomfort.

Later reports suggesting some sort of break, but confirmed news is still awaited.  Whatever the outcome this potentially represents a massive blow, particularly as Anderson seems to have shaken off a lack of pre-season and hit some good form recently.

With Dylan Mottley-Henry appearing a more natural replacement, Parkinson elected instead to bring on Steven Davies, in post-match interviews noting that Davies has operated on the wing previously.  This move also saw Marshall switch flanks to the left.

City appeared a little shell shocked after the injury, and despite saved efforts at either end from James Hanson and Michael Smith, and an off the pitch shove on Lee Evans from Peterborough’s Bostwick that referee Paul Tierney deemed only worthy of a talking to, a flat half came to an end.

The Bantams came out for the second half in a more positive frame of mind, and began to exert themselves on the game.  Chances were carved out and a succession of corners were forced with a few narrow escapes for the Posh defence.  In a continuation of the first half, the Peterborough players were keen to disrupt the flow of play and there seemed to be numerous ‘chats’ with the referee which helped in this regard.

There was also a City corner where the referee must have spent a good few minutes talking to various players of both sides in turn after some initial tussling in the box, which ironically almost resulted in a goal, a good effort with Davies’ header bouncing off the post.

This early pressure evaporated on 56 minutes however, as a Peterborough counter attack saw them score, after Brad Jones had done well to save Marcus Maddison’s effort but could only push the ball into Lee Angol’s path who made no mistake from close distance.

Any chances of a response were quickly snuffed out by a further Peterborough goal a minute later.  Another run on goal and some good work from Souleymane Coulibaly saw a strike from Christopher Forrester squirm under Jones, an effort that it looked as though Jones could possibly have done better with.

If the first wasn’t bad enough the second goal was a complete game killer with a triple effect of (a) demoralising a fairly fragile City side, (b) extinguishing any remaining atmosphere from a despondent crowd and possibly most importantly (c) playing completely in Westley’s “closing the game down” blueprint.

This then manifested itself in a masterclass of slowing the game down, a virtue seemingly missed from Westley’s letter to season ticket holders.  Whilst certainly not being the reason the Bantams didn’t get anything from the game, the Posh physio soon became the busiest man of the pitch and Maddison, in particular, spent most of the last 20 minutes either rolling around on the ground after every challenge or miraculously jumping back up when a foul was not awarded.

As Parkinson later admitted the most concerning fact was the lack of a ‘response’ from City after conceding the second.  There was an apparent lack of belief or urgency displayed which must be addressed and this very quickly permeated to the crowd – the atmosphere vanished along with a lot of people who decided to make an early departure and then was no evidence of the type of fightback previously seen by Parkinson’s teams in the past.

Jones had a mixed afternoon –  a solid first half, a good save but unlucky with the rebound for the goal and possibly could have done better with the second – this did seem to affect him and his kicking/distribution, which had been good until then, seemed to go awry at times after this.

Despite all of this, City surprisingly did actually have quite a few good chances in the remainder of the game, and perhaps if one had been converted, might have led to some sort of fightback.  However chances came and went – Hanson had his compulsory off the line clearance, Cole had a strange attempt at a header which nearly went back in as the ball pinged around the box, and Davies managed to do a 360 degrees around a sixpence and fire the ball away from goal when a cross came in.

Billy Knott came on to replace Gary Liddle, who had one of his more quiet games and Dylan Mottley-Henry eventually came on the replace Marshall, but had little chance to make an impression.

Peterborough also created a few more chances as the match reached it conclusion, and despite six minutes of injury time, the match reached its inevitable conclusion.  Not quite boos from those left but a general mood of despondency as the crowd filed out.

On reflection the worse thing is that this feels a bit like “back to square one” after the promise of the last few matches and with yet another injury, sees a prolonged wait to get players such as Clarke, Morris and Morais back into contention.  The other concern is the home form, which has continued from last season and despite the heralded attendances, is not yet translating into League One points, coupled with what seems like an inability to counter the known tactics of many away sides.

All of this undoubtedly adds more emphasis to next Tuesday night’s long trip to League One form team Colchester United, and whilst offering a swift chance to respond to the defeat today, conversely adds more pressure to Parkinson’s side as the Bantams approach their 10th league match of the season, and the league table begins to take shape.

City: Jones, Darby, McArdle, Burke, Meredith, Marshall (Mottley-Henry 82), Liddle (Knott 67), Evans, Anderson (Davies 36), Hanson, Cole

Not used: Williams, N Clarke, Leigh, McMahon

Categories: Match Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Ten games. Let’s see where we are after ten games. The best answer to that question now looks like 10th, if we find something at Colchester, so no need to panic just yet.

    But Damien is right that there is a fragility about us that is concerning. Lots of positives last week, where we bossed a ‘title contender’, but in that game and this there is a worrying trend that follows a “concede one, quickly concede another” pattern that makes our profligacy in front of goal all the more in need of correcting.

    Are we really going to score three goals every game to give us a chance of winning?

    Not on yesterday’s performance. Evans was class, and we looked positive in spells, but we created relatively little and good chances (not half chances) are being horribly spurned. Step forward an ineffective Cole and a slovenly Davies, both of whom should have effected the game far more yesterday.

    Both are entitled to poor games now and then, Cole’s explosive start buying him more time than Davies, but we need to start being far more clinical and punishing teams who come to deliberately frustrate us.

  2. Bradford city’s home form reads as follows 10 wins from the last 28 games. However, parkinson has masterminded 8 wins from the last 10 cup games at valley parade with only Brenford & Reading taking draws. Why is this?

    I feel he doesn’t get the best out of his team at valley parade and ploughs on with same formations in the league. It is now a feature that city can not see games out from winning positions. What’s wrong with going 1 up front and five across the middle and shutting up shop to see out the games?

    Why doesn’t parkinson start with 5 across the middle at home and match the opposition and make us more difficult to break down?

    Playing Davies on the right side of midfield left Darby exposed for for both the goals as Davies didn’t track back as Anderson did and the bringing on of Davies in this wide position was bewildering!

    I’ve seen 7 of the 10 games this season and seen only only 2 decent performances oldham a game we did ourbest throw away against 10 men& Sheffield utd a game we did throw away.

    Parkinson’s pre season signings have not been good enough and without the signings of cole, Evans & and the centre half from west ham we would sitting in a relegation spot.

    A under par performance from back to front and 2 sloppy goals conceded when we had peterbourgh pegged in their own half after 5 successive corners.

    We need more steel in the middle of the park making us difficult to score against. Liddle as the anchor Evans in the middle, two wide players, knott as the forward midfielder & cole been supported from the wide areas and the pivotal midfielder been knott.

    I hope Anderson isn’t too badly injured but fear another long term injury to add to the growing list.

  3. Wasn’t it Davies that had the header cleared off the line, would like to see him play a few games up top before he is written off as is looking like happening. Although I’d much prefer to see Jon Stead back, whatever else he lacked he had a football brain and definitely bought a few free kicks for us which seem to usually go the other way.

    We need to link the front line better with the talented ball players we have now in the midfield (especially when Clarke & Morris are fit). Whether this is down to the forwards or a lack of drive from midfield I don’t know but the lack of clear cut chances and goals is worrying.

    Thought McArdle’s positioning for the 2nd goal was poor, Darby was with the lad on the ball, he had to cover the space where the cross eventually came from.

    All in all this could be Parky’s biggest test yet, I hope he finds the answers.

  4. I agree with Andy D regarding the absence of any ‘steel’, but I would add mental steel to this also. Since Jones left the club (a decision which I supported and understood, albeit with much sadness), we have desperately lacked a leader on the pitch.

    Our problem at home is largely a mentality issue, compounded by a total lack of game management from Parkinson.

    The number of times we threw away a lead at home in the final ten minutes of games last season was embarrassing. This season we have already seen us fail to win at home on 3 occasions after taking the lead, losing one and drawing two.

    This is due to our default response to taking a lead, which is to sit back and allow teams to build up momentum and confidence. I agree that in certain circumstances this could be a viable tactic, but we are far too soft and totally lacking a ruthless edge.

    If we are going to sit-back at home to protect an advantage, gamesmanship is what we need – a willingness to take any momentum out of the game by employing all the tactics we have become accustomed to when watching visiting teams at VP.

    • Lots of concerns then!

      By the end of the week the season will be 25% complete.

      So far we have conceded 13 league goals, 12 of which have come in second halves. The only exception was the freak goal at Fleetwood.

      What is being said in the dressing room at half time to propogate these performances?

    • Id rather lose than be “employing all the tactics we have become accustomed to when watching visiting teams at VP”.

  5. Marshall and Davies were good for comedy against Peterborough, the laughs we had when he would get into a good spot then ran backwards, and it was good to watch Coulibaly get into a good position for thier 2nd goal but would have loved it if Cole and Hanson linked up like that!!!

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