More spirit but Bradford City are in big trouble

By Tim Penfold 

Another game, another defeat. And while there was a much improved performance by Bradford City, particularly against opposition that are top of the league, there was still nothing to show for it in the end.

There’s still fight and effort in this Bradford City team, but there was precious little else. Going forward there was no invention, no movement and no creativity, with the team’s best creator spending too long stuck on the bench and the rest of the team just not working as an attacking unit. Defensively the team was particularly wobbly, with only Anthony O’Connor looking solid. Ryan McGowan and Nathaniel Knight-Percival both looked like they had an error in them while the returning Adam Chicksen had a nightmare game at left back.

It was Chicksen’s error that led to the goal. He got his positioning wrong when facing the impressive Jamal Lowe allowing Lowe to dart infield and spread the ball across to the other flank. Ryan McGowan backed off and allowed the pass to go into the middle of the box and Gareth Evans timed his run well to finish. Chicksen struggled to deal with Lowe all game, and the eventual second booking he got for bringing him down was entirely predictable. It was already a harsh decision to drop Connor Wood, and regardless of suspensions he should’ve been straight back in the team next week anyway.

Unlike last week, however, City did not collapse at the first sight of a setback. It wasn’t pretty, but they kept themselves in the game and began to make some small openings, with David Ball and particularly Lewis O’Brien looking impressive. However, they came up against a well-drilled Portsmouth side who worked hard to shut down options, and didn’t help themselves through the lack of off-the ball movement. Neither striker covered themselves in glory, though at least George Miller showed effort and willing. Eoin Doyle, meanwhile, is fast approaching Aaron McLean levels of disappointment and wasted money.

During the second half City kept scrapping away but openings were few and far between. O’Connor possibly should’ve done better with a header from an O’Brien cross, but other than that there were very few clear chances. Portsmouth only really looked threatening when Lowe got on the ball, but were able to comfortably keep us at arms length.

Chicksen’s red card seemed to kill off any hope of a comeback, but City kept pushing, with substitute Sherwin Seedorf showing more willingness to run at defenders than anyone else in the team. And in the last minute they almost had their reward – Hope Akpan pushed forward, gave it to Seedorf, got it back and burst through the defence to be one on one with the keeper. It was a glorious opportunity – the best of the game. But his shot sailed over the bar and condemned City to a sixth successive defeat.

This team is already looking stranded – bottom of the league and seven points off safety. So what can be done to turn this team around? Going forward, the return of Sean Scannell from injury is vital, while Jack Payne cannot be left on the bench or in a peripheral role – he is the best creator in the team and therefore needs to be at the heart of it. None of the strikers have impressed, but David Ball has worked hard in his wide role and deserves a go through the middle – in the absence of a genuine target man he’s probably the best available option to hold the ball up. In midfield Lewis O’Brien is the pick of a poor bunch, while the return of namesake Jim should improve things, but there are still too many passengers – Wright and Akpan had the best games I’ve seen from them in a City shirt but were still poor.

But it is in defence that the most work needs to be done. We’ve seen over the years what a defence with one weak link (Matthew Bates, Darren Holloway etc) is like, even when the rest of the defenders are very good. The defence put out today had three. It reminds me most of the defence during David Wetherall’s spell as player-manager, when the removal of Wetherall left Mark Bower on his own surrounded by inexperienced kids and Richard Edghill.

If we could sort the defence out then we’d have a chance of grinding out points – just as Phil Parkinson’s team did in 2011/12, even with the issues elsewhere – and maybe get enough to stay up. If any free agents are on the way in, a defender must be high up on the list of priorities. If we don’t strengthen here, the only way this team is going is down.

Categories: Match Reviews

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15 replies

  1. Accurate account of yesterday’s proceedings. The choices made by Hopkin-Wright over Payne and Chicksen over Wood- do raise question marks over his capabilities. He hasn’t much to choose from, but to pick people who don’t impress with either their attitude or their skills over others who have a modicum of both is puzzling.

  2. Great account – at times we didn’t play that badly but the result seemed depressingly inevitable. The defence is a shambles as is our finishing, the bits in between are probably close to average.
    Whilst our current predicament can be in no way pinned on Mr Hopkin I am starting to question if he is the right man for the (seemingly impossible) job. Like Kenneth I’m puzzled by some of his selections and surely he should have got the defence more organised and the team harder to breakdown by now?
    That said we can’t change manager again and who the hell would want to come anyway?

  3. Unnecessarily negative article. We were the better side and certainly didn’t deserve to lose. The Portsmouth fans agree from what I’ve read.

    Think results will start to pick up once our injured players return, and we sign a half decent target man for Doyle to play off.

  4. The biggest positive on Saturday afternoon was the expectation and hope that Edin Rahic was leaving the club and relinquishing his position. This was deflated by a subsequent rumour circulating that he is in fact returning to Valley Parade from his holiday in Germany.

    Most of us are now reconciled to relegation and the need to rebuild the club. However I have yet to find anyone reconciled to that deluded megalomaniac resuming control of Bradford City AFC. There is no conspiracy against him by an old guard as he might claim to be the case. Rather there is a consensus of supporters who identify Edin Rahic as being responsible for presiding over the club’s continuing demise. Edin may well appeal for unity among supporters but if he looks carefully he will find that it already exists. In case it needs spelling out to you Edin, at this moment in time what would excite supporters the most is the prospect of you never being heard of again. You’ve already achieved your place in the club’s history as the most ineffectual and inept chairman. Please accept that your project has failed and that you are identified as a complete liability.

    If indeed Edin Rahic is returning to Valley Parade then frankly what little hope did exist is now lost altogether.

    • Completely agree John and couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • I wish you were wrong, John, but you are not. Sadly, my experience of self-righteous people like him is that they never admit they are wrong, so I fear that unless Rupp deals with him he will stay. That means disaster.

    • Thankfully good news is on the horizon, it will be announced in the next couple of weeks that’s he’s no longer CEO/Head of football/director or whatever he thought he was.
      I don’t know however what the new structure will be and who will head it at VP

      • Looks like the start of potential change has already started Chris with the return of Julian – but this is to work alongside Edin ‘numpty’ Rahic. We can only hope further and additional changes are in the pipeline

    • I’m utterly astounded that somebody actually gave this post a thumbs down!..Is that you R***c?

    • Relegation is not inevitable.You will remember 1983/4. Twenty third on 5 November but thereafter a ten match winning run and comfortable mid table finish. That included the cracking Boxing Day 2/1 win at Burnley with late goals from Bobby and Mega. Great match fondly remembered.I am not suggesting that we will get that kind of bounce but it shows how quickly things can change. DH is a manager we can all get behind and on Saturday the players played for the shirt and those who had the balls to turn up stuck with the team to the end. Its time to move the narrative on and stop with the whining. Defeatism and division is the surest and quickest route to League 2 and we all know its a long way back. There is enough quality properly managed to retain our status (Pompey coaching staff alluded to this) but we all now irrespective of opposition to Rahic have generate a unity of purpose and get behind DH and the team. R/R will not last. There is no money to be made from a middling provincial EFL club and the penny will drop soon enough. In the meantime we need to ensure that the club does not fall too far. Not having a go by any stretch but we need to respond to adversity with some bottle not resign ourselves to League 2

      • The season Dolan took over was also looking pretty dire before a turnaround had us charging up the table setting us up for the ‘nearly’ season. One can also look at Plymouth last year.

        Whilst I applaud your optimism Paul I think the big difference is that those teams had experienced pros in there ready for the fight and they were compliemented by exciting younsters, huungry with something to prove (Bobby and Mega being a case in point).

        Watching the game on Saturday felt to me that we had not enough of the former and too many of the latter. Its not a case of a good team playing poorly but of a poor team playing as well as they can. Sometimes (Portsmouth and Sunderland) they look like they could step up but in other games they are second best by a considerable distance.

        Its not all over by any stretch but goodness me January’s important. Quite how you attract the right sort of player to a club at teh bootom of the league is beyond me though. Lets hope we look at least mpre competitive and are still in touch by teh end of the year.

  5. Portsmouth reminded me of a Parkinson side.

    Good center half who had Miller in his pocket, a big number nine who held up everything that was sent to him and touch of pace out wide. One nil up, manage the game out, back on the coach with 3 points – goodnight and god bless. Not that pretty but, hey, who cares.

    If we are to stay up (and its a big if) we need more experience and physicality throughout the core of the team. Any one of that City team could be a good player given the right support around him. The problem is they are largely all at at the same point in their fledging footballing careers and badly need the support of older, more experienced pros.

    The one positive for me was the City support. Yes, the Pompey fans were magnificent throughout the game but so they should be. Top of the league and another away win. The way the City support appluaded the team at the end of the 6th striaght defeat, recognising the improved performance and effort they put in for me showed the values for which we stand. Such a contrast to the subsequent crap posted on social media by numpties who were clerly not at the game.

    It gave me heart. Whatever the imediate future holds for City I’m confident that we can rebuild.

  6. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it on Saturday so had to rely on Pulse 2 match commentary with Width of the Posts very own Jason McKeown as co-commentator.

    I must confess based on the match commentary I was expecting a far more upbeat report Tim – perhaps a little naive on my part given current circumstances. The performance of a team and individual players can be very subjective and I appreciate that but much of what you report contradicts what was being said on the radio. Chicksen for example was reportedly having a very good game and kept one of Portsmouth’s best attacking threats in check for the most part. To nullify Lowe to very little after being out injured for more than 2 months takes some doing.

    It was acknowledged by Tim and Jason on the radio that Chicksen was beginning to flag in the 2nd half – due to lack of match fitness – and questioned whether he should be subbed and replaced by Wood to freshen it up. This was before the red card.

    It was also reported the team looked defensively solid for the most part and kept Portsmouth’s chances to few and far between. Not for the the first time we were our own worst enemies due to an impotent attack despite creating the majority of opportunities.

    I do find it interesting how different people view things. Thanks for the report, a different perspective from the radio commentary and perhaps my optimism for a turn around in fortunes is slightly misguided?

  7. We’re on our way,
    We’re on our way,
    to league 2,
    We’re on our way,
    How will we get there?
    We can’t score,
    How will we get there?
    We can’t play,
    Now that means that we are on our way…

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