Toothless Bradford City labour to inevitable FA Cup replay

Image by Thomas Gadd (

Image by Thomas Gadd (

Aldershot Town 0

Bradford City 0

Sunday 8 November, 2015

By Tim Penfold

High in the north in a land called Svithjod there is a mountain.

It is a hundred miles long and a hundred miles high, and once every thousand years a little bird comes to this mountain to sharpen its beak.

When the mountain has thus been worn away a single day of eternity will have passed.

(Hendrik Willem van Loon, History of Mankind, 1922)

And in that time Bradford City would still have not scored against Aldershot…

Some football games have an inevitability about them. Today was one of these. Bradford City huffed and puffed against a hard-working but limited Aldershot Town side, but such was the lack of creativity on display that they could still be playing now and not have scored.

The team seemed unbalanced from the very beginning, particularly in midfield. Lee Evans missed out through suspension, and Gary Liddle, while solid defensively, does not provide the same level of technical skill or forward movement. On the left, Kyel Reid had his poorest game since his return, providing no attacking threat and not much interest in proceedings, while on the right Tony McMahon was entirely redundant as a defensive wide man.

McMahon has been excellent in this role in recent weeks. He has made City much harder to beat and his set piece delivery, while below par today, is normally excellent. However, he offers very little going forward in open play, and in games like today his extra defensive solidity is unnecessary, and highlighted the need for the extra creator. Since shifting to this system, City have only scored three goals from open play, and none in the league since Rochdale. This isn’t enough for a side with ambitions above mid-table.

The game never got going as a contest, providing very few moments of interest, and the second half made the aforementioned day of eternity seem short. Aldershot didn’t lack for effort, and had a couple of decent moments in the first half, with Ben Williams making one fine save.

In the second half, however, City controlled the game, with Reece Burke snuffing out any attempts at attacks by Aldershot, but never showed any sort of urgency or movement, seemingly content to take three touches then pass it sideways forever. It was the performance of a team that didn’t seem to want to win.

Billy Clarke was an honourable exception to this, looking sharp and having City’s best chance of the game tipped wide. It was frustrating that he had to be substituted for fitness reasons, with replacement Devante Cole not providing the same level of threat, although one snap-shot on the turn was the closest that City came to troubling the keeper in the final half hour.

All of this leaves City with a replay that they don’t particularly want, and some serious concerns going forward. And for the fans who travelled down, a journey back that, while comparable to the bird wearing down the mountain, still seemed shorter than the second half.

City: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Burke, Meredith, McMahon, Liddle, Knott, Reid (Marshall 81), B Clarke (Cole 70), Hanson

Not used: Cracknell, N Clarke, Leigh, Mottley-Henry, James

Image by Thomas Gadd (

Image by Thomas Gadd (


Categories: Match Reviews

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4 replies

  1. There were some positives from today especially the return of Billy Clarke and another clean sheet. PP’s teams are generally safety first and consequently I never thought we were in danger of losing the game.
    I hoped we would create a decent opportunity and sneak a one nil win but alas it seemed like we were content to have a replay.
    Given some of the shocks this weekend I’m happy we are still in the bag tomorrow

  2. Early passes from Knott looked to be out of reach, or was it just that players were just not risking being caught going forward. We were set up to not lose the game. A risky gameplan when all it takes is one last minute spurt from an opponent or Richard Brodie throwing himself down in the box for a penalty, as he was trying to do. At one point James Hanson closed the right back down and pointed to the player to his own right to be closed down, and then realised he was operating alone and had to go himself. A good hardworking ‘defensive’ display from Hanson, which ruled out his real attacking threat.

  3. I have to say that I thought we were much better than this – although given the comments on this and other forums I am in the minority here !

    Other than a couple of moments in the first half we never looked like conceding and another clean sheet is always welcome. We completely dominated the second half although never particularly looked like scoring.

    Still – away from home, miles from home against a Conference side was always going to be a tricky tie. If I’d been offered a replay before the game I’d have snapped your hand off.

  4. A rare journey down this way for City, so could be our only away game of the season, unless we have a Cup run.

    I agree with most things on here – except I actually thought we looked better once Cole came on; it’s a pity Clarke and Cole couldn’t have played together but I realise they’re not risking Clarke.

    Sussex Bantam has it pretty much spot on, they had a couple of early half chances but never had a sniff second half and although we dominated, we never really looked like scoring either.

    We did look to be a bit one-dimensional in lumping the diagonal ball to the left wing constantly, particularly when Reid was having one of his off days. Burke (the best player on the field) clearly wanted to get the ball down and play but he had to keep shifting it to McCardle for the long diagonal.

    Anyway, it could have been worse! We are still in it but from last year we definitely miss Morais in particular I think.

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