Bradford City 0
Saturday 9 January, 2016
By Mahesh Johal (image by Kieran Wilkinson)
Bradford City were again rueing missed opportunities as they were held to a goalless draw against Bury. James Hanson and Gary Liddle were the culprits, as both missed glorious chances to confirm the Bantams passage into the FA Cup Fourth Round.
Cheered on by on by over half of those in attendance at Gigg Lane, Bradford started the game well. Kyel Reid looked a menace on the left hand side, whilst fellow loanee, Lee Evans, added energy and bite to the City midfield. News that the Welshman could be extending his stay at Bradford is a timely pick-me-up for the club after a disappointing couple of weeks.
City were much improved from their last two games and had the majority of the early possession and territory. However, they were unable to create any clinical opportunities. There was a lot of effort on show, but no cutting edge that could unlock the hosts’ defence. This theme was epitomised by Billy Clarke. The ever so reliable Irishman is often the go to man to unpick defences. Unfortunately he struggled to have any impact on the game.
As has been the case this season, it appeared City’s most likely source of scoring depended on Tony McMahon’s set piece ability. And he so nearly gave the Bantams the lead. His free kick from around 25 yards cannoned of the foot of Bury post, whilst Clarke blazed over the follow up.
Bury looked a neat team, however they were ably managed by the City backline. Christopher Routis returned to the starting eleven (for the first time since September) to replace the injured Reece Burke at the heart of the defence. With Burke’s future up in the air, Routis laid his claim for the centre half role full time with a manful performance against Leon Clarke.
There is no doubting Routis’ technical ability and skill. He is relaxed in possession and offers a similar footballing alternative to Burke. It still remains to be seen if he has the defensive temperament to rival the West Ham loanee. On today’s showing, he looked far improved when compared to his efforts in the position last season. However there is still an element of rashness in Routis, which needs to go if he is to be Burke’s successor.
A misplaced pass from Gary Liddle provided the Shakers with the opening to take the lead just before half time. Thankfully for Liddle, Ben Williams was on hand to make a fantastic block from Andy Tute’s effort.
With the rain lashing down, City struggled to get a footing in the early stages of the second half. Bury themselves grew in confidence but failed to truly threaten the City goal. The conditions did not help the spectacle, with the game becoming increasingly scrappy.
In an attempt to revitalise the Bradford City attack, Luke James was sent on to replace the misfiring Clarke. Questions were asked in the stands to why he was brought on ahead of Devante Cole. Was this an opportunity to give the Peterborough loanee some much needed game time? Or did his all action approach suit the wet conditions better than Cole?
Coles no show today added more confusion about his role at this present moment. Whilst some believe he is the missing goalscorer the club so desperately needs, there must be reason why Phil Parkinson is using him so sparingly. He has shown he has goals in him. So why is he not playing? Is it an attitude problem? Is he injured? Or did Parkinson believe that Clarke and James were the better options today? Either way, the Cole sub story is an interesting one.
In a period when City so desperately need goals, Kyle Reid’s cross into the penalty area was wastefully headed wide by an unmarked Liddle. As the player said on social media, it was harder to miss than score. Rory McArdle then came close to marking the three year anniversary of that goal (any opportunity) when he headed McMahon’s corner just wide. In similar fashion to that goal McArdle attacked the near post only to well connect but head well wide.
Both teams had chances to nick the game in the final minutes with Bury first going closest. Leon Clarke fired ball across the goal was waiting to be smashed home by Danny Mayor, but Stephen Darby was able to intercept away from danger. And then in the last minute, Tony McMahon’s fired cross was met by an onrushing James Hanson. Unfortunately for the three thousand plus Bradford City fans, Hanson was unable to control his sliding shot and he blazed over from two yards.
So, City find their name in the Fourth Round again. But like last season, they will have to win a home replay before they can think about any more cup exploits. If a glamour tie is drawn, it will be even more frustrating that the Bantams could not put this tie to bed at the first attempt. All eyes on Monday night then…
City: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Routis, Meredith, McMahon, Liddle, Evans (Marshall 87), Reid (Morris 83), Hanson, B Clarke (James 67)
Not used: Cracknell, Leigh, Knott, Cole
Categories: Match Reviews