Bradford City vs Rochdale preview
@Valley Parade on Saturday 20 February, 2016
By Nathan Evans
What a difference a week can make. Two wins, six goals scored, no goals conceded against two fellow play off hopeful teams. Not too many times this season have Bradford City played exciting, attacking football – but that’s what we’ve done in our last two games against Peterborough and Southend.
The last two games have highlighted that the squad we possess at Valley Parade is good enough to take on any other team in this league and be competitive, as at the moment we look dangerous going forward on every occasion.
It’s clear to see that City are setting up in a more attacking manner of late, maybe not in terms of formation as we’re still running the conventional 4-4-2 but the mind-set of the team is certainly different compared to when we were playing during the Christmas period. The main change has come in the shape of personnel.
The decision to move away from a central midfield partnership of Tony McMahon and Chris Routis has brought about more creativity as new boy Josh Cullen looks to bomb forward at every opportunity. Coupled with Lee Evans in the middle and the Bantams finally have a midfield that has attacking potential as well as looking solid defensively.
At the moment I love the fact that we have various options. I like the fact that everybody in this team wants to score at the minute. Too many times in the last couple of years has James Hanson had to work the line by himself and the over-reliance on him at times has meant that when he suffers a drop in form he is the first player that the boo-boys oust.
Now we have Hanson, Steve Davies, Wes Thomas, Jamie Proctor and Billy Clarke whom make up a very good strike force for a League One side. On top of that we have McMahon and Kyel Reid, who score regularly and can provide for the frontline and Evans and Cullen who both look comfortable going forward from centre midfield. Even further back and our central defenders are always a threat from set pieces with Reece Burke enjoying dribbling out of the back line on occasion, driving the team forward in the process. We finally look very promising going forward which is where we’ve been lacking massively this season so far.
Ahead of Saturday’s match Rochdale have brought back an old face in that of former striker Grant Holt. Holt can finish his chances, Holt is prolific. In a total of 445 football league games, the striker has netted on 152 occasions, including scoring 34 times for Rochdale in a total of 75 appearances for the club. The striker has enjoyed previous stints in the Premier League and in the Championship and is a very good signing for most League One clubs.
Rochdale are a very up and down team. The Lancashire side have suffered defeats to Chesterfield and Crewe in recent weeks, but have also beaten high-flying Burton 2-1 not long ago and possess some good players. Main striker Ian Henderson is a major threat for Rory McArdle and co at the back, the target man has bagged eleven league goals this term so far and has assisted three times. Central midfielder Peter Vincenti has seven goals as well and is the player to pull the strings for this Rochdale outfit, whilst in Donal McDermott and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing Dale have two flying wingers who will look to take on James Meredith and Stephen Darby whenever possible.
Unlike our last two wins however we go into this match up as favourites. We’ve seen over the years that this team has thrived upon being the underdogs in matches and even though that wasn’t the case as such against Southend it seemed that way in the match away at Peterborough last Saturday, nobody saw that win coming.
It’s time to keep our form going now against the lesser teams in the league with Rochdale, Blackpool, Colchester and Bury coming up next, and to keep the pressure up on the sides already in the play off positions.