By Dhriti Ahir
2019 kicked off with a bang, quite literally, as fireworks exploded over Valley Parade as the fans watched their team beat an Accrington side down to 10 men. Goals coming from Lewis O’Brien, Eoin Doyle and Connor Wood made sure that the three points were ours. The performance the lads produced pitch made a smile appear on every City fan’s face.
With the transfer window the merry-go-round of ins and outs began a day later. Sherwin Seedorf returned to his parent club Wolves after six appearances in claret and amber. Reece Powell and Curtis Peters also left the club that day. But Omari Patrick returned to Valley Parade from his loan spell at Yeovil Town.
The outgoings of fringe players continued. Jacob Hanson left the club to join Halifax Town, a day later Josef Hefele left the club to join Nottingham Forest. The bigger news came when it was announced Kai Bruenker was leaving and moving back to Germany, and also the departure of Jim O’Brien who went off to Notts County.
The week’s break due to the FA Cup gave David Hopkin and his team a chance to get possible new signings through the door. Most of the players took time off with their families and made sure that they were well rested for the challenge that faced them at Barnsley the week after.
In the build up to the Yorkshire derby, the Bantams landed defender Paudie O’Connor from West Yorkshire rivals Leeds United. He made his debut for City at Oakwell on what proved to be a difficult afternoon. Adam Chicksen was red carded, and City conceded three goals to remain in the bottom four. Barnsley was a higher class than us as expected.
The despondency of defeat was mixed with anxiety about the future of on-loan attacking midfielder Jack Payne. Throughout the early part of the transfer window, rumours swirled that the likes of Sunderland and Millwall wanted Payne to help them progress in their leagues. Another player that was on everyone’s mind was the impressive Lewis O’Brien. Finally, it was confirmed that Payne and O’Brien were to continue their loan spells at City for the remainder of the season. A big thank you goes to Stephan Rupp for increasing the portion of Payne’s wage the club is paying!
David Hopkin also managed to get another player in through the doors at Valley Parade, with midfielder Jermaine Anderson on a permanent contract. The 22 year old recently played for Doncaster on loan.
The Southend home game that followed was a one-sided match. City fans questioned Hopkin for putting Nat Knight-Percival in at left-back. It didn’t work to our strengths as Southend dominated and got the goals. The returning Timothee Dieng showed the player he has become. It was a frustrating and annoying, as it wasn’t a performance fans could be proud of. Southend were confident going forward, as their strikers and midfielders just glided past our midfield and defence.
With the wait in-between matches dominated by transfer talk, City brought in Calum Woods from Preston, who can play both left back and right back. Another player left the doors at Valley Parade, as Alex Jones has joined Cambridge United on a loan move. The injury plagued striker joined the club in 2017 and has made 24 appearances and scored five goals.
Saturday rolled over and stopping the losing rot was essential at Burton. Hope Akpan scoring his first goal for City to secure a decent point on the road – the first time all season something had been gained from a losing position.
Before the Burton game, our last four league games have either been won or lost by 3+ goals, which were the 4-0 win at Rochdale, the 3-0 win against Accrington and also the 3-0 loss at Barnsley and the 4-0 home defeat to Southend.
The Shrewsbury match was a game of redemption and belief after the ups and downs in the league so far. We were 3-1 up just after half time, with goals coming from Payne (Grant OG), O’Brien and Doyle. There was a feeling of relief, but frustration came with two goals from Fejiri Okenabirhie to level the game 3-3. Step forward David Ball in the 96th minute, with a beautiful goal in the bottom corner made sure that we kept all three points. This game had mixed emotions, but the lads pulled through and it was a team effort. These are the matches that can change everyone’s mindset for future games and even the remainder of the season.
Overall I believe that January has been a decent start to the year for the Bantams, picking up points along the way and also dealing with defeats. But the main reason is that this team is coming together and looking more united. The Shrewsbury experience in particular really sets us up for the run-in.