Frustrations familiar to some, but wonderfully new to others

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Match review: Bradford City 2 (Wyke, McMahon) Gillingham 2

By Tim Penfold

This sounds remarkably familiar, doesn’t it?  Bradford City have the better of the game, but fail to take full advantage and come away with a draw.  But, for all of the feelings of deja vu, it was in many ways a day of firsts.

It was a first game for my friend Thomas and his two youngest daughters, Rosa (8) and Ella (5), taking advantage of cheap tickets on the club’s excellent #BantamsFamily initiative.  They at least had an entertaining game as an introduction to Valley Parade (unlike Jason McKeown’s run of 0-0s when he first started going) and saw Bradford City come away with a share of the points (unlike me – it took me three games to see anything other than a defeat!).  They weren’t the only ones either, with the crowd being boosted to just short of 19,000 and the Midland Road stand looking the fullest it’s been since the cup runs.

It was also a first game for our big-money new striker Charlie Wyke, and he impressed.  His link up play with Clarke looked promising, and he provided a good physical presence up front.  Most importantly, he powered in a fine header from Mark Marshall’s cross shortly after Gillingham had taken the lead.  Hopefully it will prove to be the first of many.

The visitors’ early goal had come slightly against the run of play, and provoked tears from Ella and worried groans from the rest of the City support.  City never looked comfortable dealing with the lofted balls and throws into the box – a far cry from the days of Andrew Davies dominating the box and heading everything clear.  There were three City players attempting to clear Ryan Jackson’s long throw but it didn’t get out of the box, and Josh Wright ran into a worrying amount of space to volley past Colin Doyle.

City responded immediately though, and managed to gain control of the game, particularly after the impressive Bradley Dack went off the boil somewhat following a silly booking for dissent.  Wyke’s equaliser got the team straight back on terms, and they took the lead shortly before half time with a fine set piece.

Billy Clarke’s free kick deserved a goal on its own but it was well saved – however, Tony McMahon, who had dummied the free kick, ran in untracked to smash the rebound into the goal.  At this point City were in complete control and Clarke’s long range effort went narrowly over just before the break.

After half time, however, Gillingham came out strongly and City started slowly, which led to a soft equalising goal.  Again, City failed to deal with a high, looping cross and everyone seemed to stand still as the ball fell straight to Deji Oshilaja in the six yard box, who made no mistake with the finish.  There’s been a worrying tendency in recent weeks to concede preventable goals – Shrewsbury, Millwall and now this one were all caused by either individual errors or the defence being too passive and not reacting.

Gillingham then decided to shut up shop and take the point, challenging City to break them down, and the Bantams nearly managed it.  Josh Cullen, who had a quiet game by his standards, had one shot well saved and another fly narrowly wide, while Wyke had a header from a corner cleared off the line.  The substitute Jordy Hiwula had a lob drop agonisingly wide of the post, and the Gills headed clear numerous crosses and corners.

However, aided by some time-wasting and a bobbly pitch slowing down City’s attempts at quick passes, the visitors held out.  City lacked the guile to break down the massed ranks of blue, without ever really looking hugely threatened on the counter.

Another frustrating day, and another missed opportunity to close up on rivals who dropped points, but it wasn’t all bad.  Charlie Wyke might just be the striker we’ve been looking for all season, while Thomas, Ella and Rosa enjoyed it enough to want to come back.

We may just have got a few more Bantams hooked for life.

Listen to our in-depth review of Bradford City’s transfer window activity.

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Categories: Match Reviews

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9 replies

  1. The club should run the initiative a few games a season, especially where we know or anticipate a small away following.
    It’s better to have bums on seats than a sea of empty plastic chairs.
    If you can get people into the habit of attending games then they’re the season ticket holders of the future.

    • Exactly ……. Airlines and Hotels have been doing this for years. Unfortunately the league rulings mean this should be open to ALL supporters (Home and Away) which would mean operating at a loss. IIRC you can only do this twice a season ?

      • Thanks Chris. I wasn’t aware of the EFL rules on this type of financial promotion.
        I might be missing something but surely Shaun Harvey and the mandarins at EFL HQ should be encouraging initiatives like this?Isn’t part of their remit to get as many people as possible to league games? But it seems such iniatives are stifled by the leagues own rules.

  2. City need to do the same again on Tuesday 28th February ; for the MK Dons match; a game almost guaranteed to be our lowest gate of the season: unless we are doing really well; but ‘really’ well means fighting to get into, or stay in, the top two. Anything less and Valley Parade will be like Bradford shops on a February Sunday.

  3. Great to see the club offering the cheaper tickets. Prior to the game, I saw more adults with children compared with a normal home league game. I thought that the attendance was bigger than what was quoted however it is difficult to estimate sporting attendances.
    Regards to the game, I thought that McArdle and Marshall had very good games and with a bit of luck we could have won the game. However Gillingham had two good counter attacks in the last ten minutes and could have snatched an undeserved victory.
    How ironic that when McMahon put us in to the lead, Hanson was scoring on his debut for Sheffield United. The back page of my home programmes will take some getting used to without his name in our squad.

    • Also Gary Liddle and Jamie Proctor scoring for Carlisle so a good day for many old City players.

      The main one Wyke scored and for me that’s all what counts.

      Great to see him break his duck in his first game and hopefully he will go on a nice scoring run till the end of the season

      • Interestingly Proctor got sent off eight minutes after scoring. Wouldn’t have minded signing Proctor for a longer period; always gave 100% and scored a few goals.

      • Never noticed that. I wasn’t that bothered personally we didn’t get him but a good squad player

  4. I din’t understand why City are prevented by League rules from repeating the kids’ initiative. Can someone explain it to me, because it seems, on first sight, to be an attempt to reduce crowds and to discourage children.
    There must be a reason.
    Regarding the game, I think City are too slow in the build-up. I know Huddersfield are a very good team, but on Thursday they were so fast. City are not. That, coupled with Gillingham’s spoiling, time-wasting, feigning injury, plus an inept referee, spoilt the game for me. I think 10 minutes injury time would have been fair. We got 5 minutes, 2 of which were taken up with a so-called injury.
    Maybe I am too emotionally involved with City, but I was terribly frustrated on Saturday.

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