A familiar story of missed opportunities weakens Bradford City’s promotion hopes

Image by Kieran Wilkinson

Image by Kieran Wilkinson

Coventry City 1

Rose 59

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

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Categories: Match Reviews

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17 replies

  1. What gets me is the people who defend the poor goals scored record – ‘well we all would have taken this position with 3 to go at the start of the season’, ‘none of the other teams around us are scoring goals’, ‘we aren’t going to score 6 every game’ etc

    Well, yes, but the problem is when we go behind (though not often) we usually don’t get back into it. I think only three times this season we’ve come from behind to get something, and only one win in those?

    We’ll be kicking ourselves if we miss out and look to games like Colchester, Shrewsbury etc and our inability to kill teams off when the defence has performed like that of a top 2 team for most of the season.

  2. I’ve never met Roger Owen, but don’t agree that taking the opportunity of the second defeat in seven games is the opportunity to have a go, after an average of close to two points per game across the seven. Suggest reading Jason’s new book and see how often the Bantams produce a result when it matters, which I am sure we will on Saturday.

    • I don’t think Tim – or anyone – is having a go at anyone, merely expressing concerns that have been felt by many for much of the season and which are especially prevelant this evening.

    • The thing that irked me about Roger’s comments was not that he was defending the low number of goals we were scoring but criticising the supporters generally, and Katie / WOAP specifically, for daring to take an different view.

      At the time it seemed heavy handed, suggesting that we should let the manager get on with it and not form opinions, or second guess his tactics or selections. Seemed a bit rich at the time given that one assumes that he was part of the board who second guessed many a City manager from Chris Hutchings to Peter Jackson.

      I have huge respect for the joint Chairmen but Roger just seems to rub me up the wrong way. He was keen enough to dive for cover over the state of the pitch last year but is happy to share his views in other areas.

      Maybe I should take the trouble to meet him. As often is the case opinions are formed based on a throw away line. Like everyone connected with City I’m sure he has the best interests of the club and if I had a beer with him (he pays) I’ll probablyu think he’s OK.

      • Andy, sadly I am only reading this on Monday, 25th April or I would have responded straight away. I don`t know where you are based / live / work but I am more than happy to buy you a beer and discuss your apparent dislike of me and put you right on your view of my part in “pitchgate”.
        I don`t want my personal contact details on here and unlike Claret and Banter I don`t know if the WOAP site lets you identify my email address. If it does, contact me that way, if it doesn`t contact the Club and leave your details and I will get hold of you.
        I am at the Club Tuesday morning and then the Board Meeting Thursday pm but will be driving to Southend Friday so leave it up to you.
        Roger Owen.

  3. Just got back from the game tonight and just listened to PP saying how fantastic we played and it’s just down to missed chances. Well apart from the Billy Clarke horror miss I don’t recall us creating another chance in the whole game. We may have had 16 shots off target or whatever the stats say but if you include wild shots from 25 yards or powder puff shots that wouldn’t burst a wet paper bag then you can make stats look good for yourselves. In the 1st half Procter played as a lone striker as Clarke was always 10 yards behind him. The centre midfield two who PP praised to the heavens tonight never get in the box to support the attack. It’s no wonder we never get any goals. On Saturday the keeper gets the blame but it’s just not possible to keep a clean sheet every game. Our midfield do not contribute to the scorers enough and the team as a whole don’t create enough. Points wise we have had a good season but entertainment and goalmouth excitement have been sadly lacking this season.

    • Spot on midfield lack goals but if you watched the game tonight you can see them looking to see where the half way line is . The midfield staying back Is a game plan by PP to keep it solid at the back. What he is forgetting is that goals win games ! Midfield need to push up and join the strikers in and around the box Morrais needs to start so we do have balance on both sides and the ball is getting crossed into the box from both sides. Drop Tony if he’s there for the free kicks and corners he’s a luxury we can’t afford, let Morrais and Evans take them instead!

  4. Fair summary of another match that we should not have lost, but as you say goal scoring has eluded us all season. Big call for PP re team selection given the importance of the game against Walsall

  5. Just got back from game tonight. First things first, great to see so many Bfd fans there making noise and showing up the Coventry fans. It was a good atmosphere amongst us.

    Coventry are a good side and apart from this end of season slide, would be in the playoff positions. On a wide pitch their attacking play could dominate a game….except Bfd played very well, particularly in the first half. We dominated the game to a point we looked more like the home team. Meredith and Reid were dominant down our left, Darby and McMahon got forward down our right, Evans and Cullen kept getting the ball back when we lost it and spreading the ball about. Defensively we were almost never threatened. The issue was we just did not have enough quality play in and around the box. We needed to take advantage of the tempo and dominance in the first half.

    Second half Coventry got more in to the game but still did not create anything to make me nervous, all my frustrations were again the lack of quality opportunities and finishing.

    I drove back still happy that we can perform so well against a good side, but as the article states, be frustrated we cannot get constant goals from the team. None of the defenders really get goals, in midfield Reid can bag an odd one, and McMahon has got a few set pieces, but Evans and Cullen will rarely trouble the scoreboard. This means that strikers MUST take opportunities. We have a handful of good hardworking and capable forwards, with different strong points to their game but none have looked prolific to date.

    Billy Clarke is definitely the most talented of the forwards, his value as a link player creating opportunities or probing defences is definitely his strong point. He always seems committed and will work hard, however the dependence of this City team on its strikers to bag the goals means at some point we have to overlook his all round game and ask if his goal tally is good enough to get him in yo this current team in the set-up we currently play. On past history Clarke has never been prolific and neither have any of the other forwards.

    The problem is though no one else looks likely to bag the goals…I think our excellent manager WILL find a solution to this, but my worry is that it may require a close season to allow him to adjust the balance of the squad to provide us with more natural goal scoring players in the mix.

    I am fully behind the team, board and manager and would have been delighted at our current position at the beginning of the season. I would also be delighted if we can get three more 1-0 wins and secure a play-off place. However something needs to be tweaked before Saturday for sure !

  6. Oh how we could with nahki wells he would be the leagues top scorer with all our missed chances

  7. To validate the comment, name the Club Representative, or don’t make such comments please.

  8. The goal scoring problem has haunted us for the past two seasons, in 2013/14 we scored 57 goals, in 2014/15 we scored 55.
    I agree with other comments, midfield and set pieces, we should have a decent tally.
    With the talent that is in this current squad we should be doing better in the goals for coloum.

  9. Even before the setbacks in the last two games. our general play, lack of a goal threat, and dependence on loan players who, more than likely won’t be with us next season, suggests to me we’d be out of our depth in the Championship. You cannot even contemplate promotion with a “Goals For” record such as ours.The gulf in class would, more than likely be enormous. I’d far rather have a repeat of this season in League One than having a constant struggle against established Championship teams.

    • Steve but you are assuming we would not pick up a championship quality striker be it via a loan deal from a premiership club or we buy one or two. I think PP would build on what he has, like his track record at City to date. Keep the faith. We are 5th with 3 games to play, you told me that after our first 10 games this season I’d think you were on meds. Let’s decide our own destiny. #ipwt

      • More importantly is if we go up we do it sensibly not spend beyond our means and if we go down then so be it. Additional revenue from TV money, higher gates and hopefully a couple of sellouts against the likes of Villa, Newcastle, Leeds then at worst we will give PP a bigger budget to build with in L1 next time around.

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