Bradford City 1
Saturday 27 February, 2016
By Gareth Walker
Days out at the coast remind me of spending time with family and friends as a kid. We’d all come together for a day in the summer to walk along the prom, have an ice cream and maybe fish and chips.
It was fun because everybody was there, and everybody joined in.
It was ironic therefore that in the pub before the game it was the famous Beatles track “come together” that was blaring out over the speakers as we supped a pre-match pint. It is of course a fantastic tune, and one that was the prelude to another great day in Blackpool.
Although the game wasn’t the classic affair, and certainly didn’t have the importance of that 1996 game that City fans recall when they think of away games against Blackpool, the Bantams showed the togetherness and fighting qualities that were on show twenty years ago.
Blackpool are a club that are extremely fragmented at the moment. Well publicised rows between fans and owners have led to boycotts of games, and their manager Neil MacDonald is faced with the thankless task of trying to bring his players together and forge a siege mentality within his group. In all truth, there was plenty of commitment on show from a Tangerines side that have a reasonable home record considering their off-field problems.
City on the other hand are a club where everyone knows the value of pulling together. The 3,000 travelling fans, who despite official figures reporting to the contrary, looked to vastly outnumber the home supporters, backed their team vociferously and certainly played their part in ensuring that a game of fine margins went their way.
In truth the game itself was a dull affair which swung on the only two real moments of quality that were evidenced throughout the 90 minutes.
The first was a fine save from Ben Williams right on half time from former City man Mark Yeates. Blackpool worked the ball well on the edge of the city box and a clever back heel gave Yeates just enough space on the left to curl one of his trademark efforts towards the top corner of the goal.
We were sat right behind it, and it looked to be in all the way, only for Williams to go full stretch and tip the ball onto the angle of post and bar. The fact that referee Michael Bull immediately blew for half time left us with the feeling that a big moment had just gone City’s way.
And so it was to prove. As the second half started, City exerted themselves more and more and took a grip on proceedings. Chances were at a premium but in the 54th minute the only other moment of real quality in the game again went the way of the Bantams.
Stephen Darby picked the ball up on the right and surged towards the edge of the box. It was an uncharacteristic, yet brilliant, run from the captain. He went past three players and, just as the baying away end encouraged him to shoot, he spotted an unmarked Kyel Reid to his left. The sideways pass was perfect, and Reid hit a thunderous first time shot across Blackpool keeper Colin Doyle and into the far corner – sparking epic scenes of jubilation amongst the City contingent.
The rest of the game was mainly one of poor quality, spiced up by City fans with inventive terrace chants of “you’ve got more seagulls than fans” and “we can see you flying out”.
The ball spent a lot of time in the air particularly in the first half. It was probably due to the horrendous state of the Bloomfield Road pitch which was reminiscent of the heavily criticised surface at Valley parade from last season.
City’s main danger man Reid was double marked for long periods and Blackpool’s effective strategy of closing the midfield down quickly meant that it was very difficult to sustain decent periods of play.
The second half was slightly better than the first particularly after The Bantams took the lead, as Blackpool threw more men forward. Former Morecambe striker Jack Redshaw entered the fray as a substitute, as did ex Burnley man Martin Paterson, who forced Williams into a smart block towards the end, even though the shot was straight at him. However they rarely troubled the City number one, and the Bantams continued to give as good as they got. James Hanson had a couple of tame headers saved easily by Doyle and both Tony McMahon and Wes Thomas shot well over from decent position.
Tangerines defender Will Aimson saw red right at the death as he was giving a second yellow card after a tussle with Hanson as Big Jim tried to delay the taking of a free kick. The incident also saw City’s number nine booked.
All in all it was a very welcome three points, but the victory wasn’t without negatives as the trio of Wes Thomas (Calf), Reece Burke (Ankle) and Stephen Davies (Knee) all picked up injuries towards the end of the game. These setbacks could give players who currently find themselves on the fringes of the squad an opportunity to show that the togetherness at the club doesn’t just run through the first XI.
Phil Parkinson spoke after the game about how little moments in games are often key. Getting blocks in in midfield and at the back, and chasing long balls to the corner. It is these qualities that often ensure that you are on the right side of fine margins, and it is the feeling of togetherness and team spirit within a squad that makes players want to put their bodies on the line in these kind of situations.
Although the game won’t live long in the memory, it is these sorts of victories that could prove vitally important in a play off chase that looks increasingly like going to the wire.
City: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Burke (N Clarke 84), Meredith, McMahon, Cullen, Evans, Reid, Hanson, Thomas (Davies 66, B Clarke 89)
Not used: Cracknell, Leigh, Knott, Marshall
Categories: Match Reviews