Peterborough United 0
Bradford City 4
Hanson 45+68, Reid 56, Davies 77
Saturday 13 February, 2016
By Tim Penfold
In recent weeks, as the team’s form dropped off, Phil Parkinson and the team have come in for heavy, and at times unfair, criticism. We have been told that his style isn’t good enough to get us into the Championship, and that we are too direct and defensive. While there are genuine points in the criticism, the worst of it relies on exaggerations of the negative parts of Parkinson’s style.
Today, however, we saw all of the positives of a Phil Parkinson team on display as the Bantams swept Peterborough aside.
Phil Parkinson’s teams have a solid defence. This was on display in the first half, as Posh were restricted to optimistic long shots, but was most obvious at the start of the second half when fine goalkeeping and an outstanding block from Stephen Darby kept the score at 1-0, and also at the end of the game when Ben Williams made a fine stop from a free kick. The game was won, but that didn’t stop the determination to keep a clean sheet. As usual, Rory McArdle and Reece Burke were magnificent in the heart of the defence, with every attempt by Peterborough to get back in the game hitting a brick wall.
Phil Parkinson’s teams use a target man. They have done since his days at Colchester with Chris Iwelumo, and the struggles of our target men this season have been a key problem. This was not the case today, as James Hanson was magnificent. He dominated the Peterborough centre backs in the air, and picked up two goals with fine headers from Kyel Reid and James Meredith’s crosses. If he can keep this form up, there may be at least a partial solution to our goalscoring problems.
There is another key point about Hanson’s performance today. Phil Parkinson’s teams, at their best, are not solely reliant on their target man to attack, and this was the case today. Alongside Hanson, Wes Thomas was a constant threat and showed more promising signs of a partnership with Hanson than the likes of Aaron Mclean and Devante Cole showed in their entire Bantams careers.
In the middle of the park, Lee Evans and Josh Cullen kept things ticking over nicely, with Cullen’s quick free kick setting City on the way to their first. The pass to Tony McMahon took out several opponents and allowed him to set Reid free for the cross to Hanson, and Cullen also did well to win the ball in midfield for the third. Finally, on the left both James Meredith and particularly Kyel Reid were excellent.
Reid was a constant threat, forcing Peterborough to switch right backs at half time and setting up the first with a fine cross. His goal was not well defended by Peterborough, as Evans’ long throw should’ve been cut out before it reached him, but he twisted and finished it well. He was withdrawn late on to a standing ovation, and deserved it – this was his best game since rejoining.
Meanwhile, Meredith overlapped well, taking advantage of the space left by Peterborough’s diamond system, and in addition to setting up the third goal was also involved in the moves for the first and fourth.
One good quality on show today that normally isn’t associated with Phil Parkinson’s teams is the ability to kill teams off. This was key today, as City followed up Peterborough’s best chance by going up the other end and getting the second goal, and then took full advantage of tiring opponents by getting a third, with Hanson heading in Meredith’s cross, and a fourth, when Steve Davies deflected in McMahon’s shot.
This is something that City have not done well enough in recent seasons – the numerous last minute equalisers conceded last season go to prove the point. This was against exhausted, demoralised opponents but too many times in the past City have sat back at 1 and 2-0 and been punished. Continuing this could well be vital for the rest of the season.
In many ways this game was similar to the Rochdale game in October, where a fine performance in response to a poor run triggered a good run that lifted City briefly to 6th. This performance was better than that, and the key in the next few weeks is to keep these standards up. If that happens, the play offs are by no means out of reach.
City: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Burke, Meredith, McMahon, Cullen, Evans, Reid (Marshall 84), Hanson (Proctor 90), Thomas (Davies 72)
Not used: Cracknell, N Clarke, Knott, Morris
Categories: Match Reviews