Coventry City 1
Bradford City 0
Tuesday 19 April, 2016
By Tim Penfold
You’ve all heard this story before. Bradford City dominate. Bradford City have all the chances. Bradford City do not take their chances and get punished for it. For Coventry City, read Shrewsbury away or either game against Bury in the cup. A lack of goals is crippling this team and means that, rather than having a shot at the top two, City go into the last three games looking over their shoulder at the teams below.
If we continue to score at our current rate we will finish the season with 53 goals. Teams very rarely get promoted scoring 53 goals in a season – it hasn’t happened this millennium in the Championship or League One and only twice in League Two, where there is an extra promotion slot. It is a fundamental flaw in this side that has been obvious since early in the campaign, and no furious denials from club officials can change that.
Tonight City came out of the blocks well, but when they did swarm forward, they were let down by poor decision making in the final third. Too many times players opted for pot-shots from outside the box, with Billy Clarke and Lee Evans particularly culpable in this regard – Clarke in particular chose a shot when a through ball to Proctor seemed the obvious choice. At the other end, Coventry kept possession well when they had it, but rarely threatened, apart from one good penalty shout towards the end of the half.
The second half seemed to follow the initial pattern of the first, with City again threatening on the break and Coventry offering nothing except neat passing in the middle of the pitch. And then the sucker-punch happened. Like Saturday, it was an error from a normally reliable player – Nathan Clarke making a mess of a header – and the finish was excellent. Like Saturday, you could say that it was unlucky, but when you don’t take your chances you leave yourself vulnerable to this.
After the goal, City wobbled for a few minutes before regaining control. Reid threatened again, and then Billy Clarke missed the clearest chance of the night, dragging wide when it seemed easier to score. Clarke’s lack of form, especially compared to last season’s excellent finishing, is a major cause of our goalscoring woes, and he was replaced shortly afterwards.
Steven Davies and Filipe Morais came on for Clarke and the disappointing Tony McMahon, and Morais had an instant impact with his trickery and crossing. Davies, however, had a completely different sort of impact, kicking out off the ball and getting sent off. It was a brainless bit of play, and suddenly leaves us short up front – he was the obvious replacement for Billy Clarke, who needs some time out of the side, but is now needlessly banned. He has let the club down here, and I’m certain that Phil Parkinson will have let him know that in no uncertain terms.
Still the Bantams pushed forward, and still they couldn’t turn their domination into goals. Hanson, who came on for Nathan Clarke as City went 3-4-2, missed a good chance late on, and Evans had a free kick well saved, but Coventry’s extra man told and they saw the game out, despite five minutes of stoppage time.
If Bradford City do not get promoted this season, it will be down to a lack of goals, and this is mostly caused by missed chances. Whether through poor form or injury, none of the strikers at this club, with the possible exception of Proctor, have had the required impact this season.
It was against Coventry in November that Width of a Post raised this as an issue and were shouted down by a representative at the club, who has taken further digs as the season goes on. Yet to deny that this is an issue denies reality – if we get promoted at the end of the season, which is still a very realistic possibility, it will be in spite of our attacking efforts, not because of them.
City: Williams, Darby, N Clarke (Hanson 86), Burke, Meredith, McMahon (Morais 70) Cullen, Evans, Reid, B Clarke (Davies 69), Proctor
Not used: Cracknell, McArdle, Morris, Thorpe
Categories: Match Reviews