Match review: Oldham Athletic 1 Bradford City 2 (Vincelot, McArdle)
By Mahesh Johal
A dominant display saw Bradford City deserved winners away to relegation threatened Oldham. In a week that saw the departure of the club’s longest serving player, it was a member of the old guard who won City the three points. Rory McArdle was able to stab home to send three thousand travelling fans into raptures.
On a wet and sodden pitch, the away side were a constant threat and went ahead thanks to a glancing header from Romain Vincelot. Accompanied with his new song, Vincelot was able to meet Josh Cullen’s delivery and head past former City loanee Connor Ripley.
Mark Marshall continued his fine form with another positive display. The winger was again given more licence to roam in the final third and he was often the most advanced man forward. Together with Jordy Hiwula and Billy Clarke, City had fluid and interchangeable trio that offered trickery and movement that caused the hosts no end of problems. However, for all the dominance, no real clear chances were created.
Billy Clarke looked like he hadn’t been away, and flourished in a deeper role. His link up with midfield and the forwards was brilliant. And his commitment to track back and support his defence didn’t go unnoticed. In this shape and formation, he looks his most influential.
Rory McArdle thought he had doubled the lead, but his header was judged offside. Josh Cullen also had a fair penalty shout rejected after being bundled in the box. If felt like only a matter of time before City scored again, but on the stroke of halftime, Brian Wilson equalised for Oldham.
After shrugging off a weak attempted tackle from Nicky Law, Wilson drove to the edge of the box and his tame strike bobbled past Colin Doyle. Upon watching the replay, the bobble is massive and can be likened to a spinning delivery on the last day of test match in the India.
City started the second half well, with Josh Cullen being the key man. He demanded the ball at every opportunity and drove the team upfield with either jinking runs or intelligent through balls and passes. If James Hanson epitomised the Phil Parkinson era of play, Cullen is the poster boy of McCall’s. His slickness and skill is one thing, but he has acumen and willingness to do the dirty stuff when needed. His performance was yet again appreciated by the fans, who gleefully sung his name throughout.
Jordy Hiwula then had a great chance to put the Bantams ahead. In a similar position to the one Devante Cole scored from last season, Hiwula was unable to score past the onrushing Ripley. On reflection, the angle was tough, but one that needed converting. If anything, it was another example of City missing that clinical finisher.
Oldham were doing everything they could to stay in the game. Even the ball boys got on the act, kicking the ball away from City players on several occasions. However nothing could be done to stop Rory McArdle bundling in Vincelot’s flick on to give the Bantams the lead. After Billy Clarke’s free kick was headed by Vincelot, McArdle was on hand to stab home.
The goal was just reward for McArdle who was outstanding all game. He won every header and tackle, and his all action style complimented Vincelot well at the heart of the defence. Stuart McCall will have a tough decision when Nathaniel Knight-Percival returns to fitness, but on days like this, there’s no one else you would want at the back other than McArdle.
Two goals from defenders were enough to take all three points today. However, if City are to succeed this season, it’s the front men that need to do the scoring. With a number nine shirt now up for grabs, all attention turns to Tuesday and the end of this transfer window…
Categories: Match Reviews