Southend United 0
Bradford City 1
Saturday 30 April, 2016
By Kieran Wilkinson
Well, well, well… I tell you what – I’ll admit it if you do. There’s been at least one time this season when you’d completely written off City’s chances of making the play offs, hasn’t there? I suspect you can take your pick as to when this was. It might have been Colchester at home. It could have been Gillingham away at New Year. Hell, if you’re a real pessimist it might have been that opening day capitulation at Swindon.
When we lost away at Burton in February, I wrote “I want to be wrong, I’d love to be wrong but, hand on heart, I think we will fall short this season…”. I can now say that I am glad that I was wrong. I suspect that there is definitely one person who didn’t stop believing though.
Step forward Philip John Parkinson. The achievement of play off spot this season should not be understated. Nor should the fact that it means that Phil Parkinson has taken City to a higher placed finish in each of his four consecutive seasons in charge (with his first season performance maintaining the status quo from the previous season). To put this into context, this has only happened once (Trevor Cherry) since it was achieved by Peter O’ Rourke over one hundred years ago.
In the parlance of the City Gent, this is true Bantam Progressivism.
To give further context to the turnaround in the second half of the season, when City lost that match at Gillingham in the New Year, it left Gillingham in third spot, three points off the top and thirteen points ahead of City. As of today, City sit eight points ahead of the Gills, who are in eighth position. Whilst we have been the beneficiaries of some other teams’ collapses, our recent form has been fantastic. Whatever now happens in the playoffs should not cloud these achievements.
The match at Roots Hall was, to be truthful, not a classic. However, to quote Jon Stead, “So what?”. It was yet another case of “job done” and there was something satisfyingly apt that the match that clinched the play off place was another 1-0 victory (the eleventh such scoreline for City this season).
Phil Parkinson stuck with the same starting eleven that had destroyed Walsall last week. History maker Will Atkinson took his place in the Southend line-up.
City started well, resulting in a few opportunities from corners in the opening minutes. The breakthrough came as early as the twelfth minute. Lee Evans pressurised Southend with a run towards the box. Whilst this didn’t initially result in the Welshman getting the ball, it did result in a Southend clearance being nicked by James Meredith, meaning that Evans was in the right place at the right time to slot home to the right hand corner of goal from outside the box.
Ben Williams was soon tested after City’s goal, having first to tip over a shot from distance from the Shrimpers’ Ryan Leonard and then having to be alert to a Tyrone Barnett header.
City also had their own chances with Josh Cullen and Lee Evans going close. There was also a Kyel Reid effort which, whilst failing to trouble the Southend keeper, possibly troubled some of the residents of the flats behind the home end.
However, as the match ebbed away to half time, neither team managed to impose any real authority on the game, although both sides were certainly trying to have a go.
Southend probably came out of the traps a little quicker in the second half but overall it was more of the same.
City had two decent shouts for penalties. Firstly, Filipe Morais was involved in a tangle off the ball just inside the box and, secondly, Ben Coker appeared to use part of his arm to guide out a Morais cross for a corner. Referee James Adcock showed no interest in either claim.
The second half also showed somewhat of a lack of consistency from referee Adcock. City players (eg Kyel Reid) were booked for fairly innocuous fouls whereas their Southend counterparts escaped caution for similar or worse indiscretions.
Southend’s big chance of the second half saw a Tyrone Barnett volley (being set up from a headed ball from a corner) hit the underside of the City crossbar but thankfully bounce away rather than in. City were riding their luck at times and allowing Southend the opportunity to get back in the game.
City used all of their subs, with Jamie Proctor, Paul Anderson and Tom Thorpe being introduced. The appearance of Paul Anderson was particularly welcome – well done to him for battling back from an injury which might have not seen him back until next season. It’s entirely possible that Anderson could still have an impact upon this season. He very nearly had an impact on the scoreline of this match, with a shot after a run towards the box only going narrowly over the Southend bar.
So, in the end City managed to see out the match comfortably. Another solid one nil win. Another example of the foundations on which this play off push has been built. Whilst not as flashy as last weekend, there was still plenty to be proud of.
Personally, my man of the match would be Josh Cullen – his tireless guile has been invaluable in this end of season push. However, there were solid performances all round and it is worth noting that the nascent Hanson/Morais partnership continues to show promise despite it yielding no goals in this game.
The result means that City can go into next Sunday’s match against Chesterfield with nothing to worry about. We can watch the battle for the sixth play off place with intrigue rather than concern. No doubt Phil Parkinson will make some changes for the match (perhaps longer run outs for the likes of Anderson and Proctor) but equally I am sure that he will be keen to keep up the fantastic momentum that we have at the moment.
Then we are on to two, hopefully three more games. I’ve heard some express some concern about having to face Milwall; but, on the basis of “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man”, we shouldn’t fear anyone. I cannot imagine that any of the teams will relish playing us. Exciting times…
City: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Burke, Meredith, McMahon, Evans Thorpe 89), Cullen, Reid (Anderson), Morais (Proctor 70), Hanson
Not used: Cracknell, N Clarke, Morris, B Clarke
Categories: Match Reviews