Match review: Bradford City 2 (Marshall, Hiwula) Chesterfield 0
By Tim Penfold
It’s always interesting when a new signing takes to the field for the first time. The buzz of anticipation whenever he gets the ball, the cheers when he does something good – even the groans from mistakes are quieter. Today Alex Jones made his debut in front of 17,500 fans at Valley Parade, and although he looked sharp and showed promise it was other members of the team that took the plaudits.
City named him up front with Jordy Hiwula in a 4-4-2 after Hanson had been ruled out due to injury, and the system seemed to work. The partnership between the two strikers clearly needs a bit of tweaking, but the link up between midfield and attack was excellent, exemplified as usual by Nicky Law.
Chesterfield’s defence couldn’t cope with the technique and movement of the likes of Law, Josh Cullen and Mark Marshall and were dragged all over the place trying to keep up in the first half.
Chesterfield had not started too badly, but conceded midway through the first half when Mark Marshall’s cross-shot went through everyone into the far corner, and the visitors seemed to crumble after that.
Law and Cullen in particular ran the show, and there were lengthy spells when the Spireites could barely get out of their own box, let alone trouble City. That said, they did threaten sometimes – a long-range effort from Ched Evans hit the post, while City’s normally solid defence had a habit, personified by Nathaniel Knight-Percival, of shooting themselves in the foot by giving the ball away in their own half.
That said, further goals looked much more likely for City and they got a second just before half time. Tony McMahon’s lofted pass picked out Cullen’s clever run down the right and he drilled it across for Hiwula to finish from close range. The half time whistle that followed a couple of minutes later was almost a disappointment – given a few more minutes City would most likely have got another as Chesterfield wobbled.
The second half, however, was not as good as the first. City’s forward play lacked the fluidity of the opening 45 minutes, and Chesterfield were able to gain a foothold, especially due to sloppiness from a number of players giving the ball away in City’s own half. Evans’ physicality caused issues, as did the pace of the substitute Ariyibi, but they never looked like creating a clear opening – any goal conceded would’ve been self-inflicted.
As the game progressed City did threaten going forward. Law’s excellent lofted pass sent Hiwula though – his control was excellent, but the finish was lacking. A drilled cross from Law was inches away from the stretching James Meredith, and later Marshall danced past three defenders but put his shot straight at the keeper. Another goal for City might’ve led to a hammering, but it wouldn’t come.
Defensively, City became much more solid after a clever tactical switch from Stuart McCall on 70 minutes. Stephen Darby came on for the debutant Jones, moving McMahon to the right flank and Marshall into a free role behind Hiwula. City immediately gained more control defensively and saw out the game relatively easily after that.
Cullen controlled the last few minutes from the middle of the park and deservedly walked off with the man-of-the-match award – for all of the hype around new signings, keeping him could well be the best bit of business we do in January.
Categories: Match Reviews