By Adam Raj

5pm on a Saturday evening has become a familiar feeling of apathy this season. Defeat after defeat leaves City fans very little hope with each passing game before our impending relegation. The latest trip on this relegation grand tour was a trip to The Valley to face promotion contenders Charlton Athletic, who many expected to sweep us aside with great ease.

However, rather unexpectedly, the game ended only 1-0, with City arguably deserving of a point. It shows just how low we’ve fallen when we’re content with losing a game to a respectable score line. But after recent performances and results, today was a slight improvement.

Thankfully, when the team news came out Gary Bowyer had made a statement and shown the squad and supporters just what he thought of last week’s horror show. Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Adam Chicksen were dropped (40 games too late), and Jack Payne wasn’t even named on the bench. However, the once again ineffective and seemingly unfit Jermaine Anderson kept his place.

The changes saw Paudie O’Connor and Connor Wood come into the defence. After both of them started slowly, they grew into the game more and more. Very comfortable on the ball and some solid defensive challenges makes you wonder how they haven’t been given a chance up-to this point. The pair should keep their place in the side for the remainder of the season after their performances today, especially Connor Wood, who Gary Bowyer must want to see more of considering he still has two years on his City contract.

Ultimately, today City were punished by one moment of poor play at the back. Jonny Williams had too much time to find the ever impressive Lyle Taylor in acres of space in the box, with the striker finishing low and across Richard O’Donnell. As is to be expected, the 716 travelling Bantams feared Charlton would rack up a cricket score with the game only 19 minutes old.

The game plan was clear. Frustrate Charlton in the 4-5-1 shape we set up in, and try to hit them on the break. But sadly when your side has no pace, every break is going to be pedestrian and ultimately predictable and ineffective. When your 1-0 down and playing deep as we did, it can become infuriating to watch. However, Bowyer had them well drilled and organised and intent on keeping the score at 1-0 for as long as possible for us to try and nick something late on.

With this in mind, City were happy to let Charlton have the majority of the ball in the first half as them passing it sideways along the back line wasn’t hurting us. Most of Charlton’s play went through former Bantam Josh Cullen, who plays much deeper now than he did during his time with us. However, for all of his excellent cross-field balls, he didn’t create much. Charlton had two further chances in the first half with O’Donnell first making an excellent block before goal scorer Taylor somehow blazed over from six yards out.

They were let offs for City, but we had a couple of chances ourselves. First Jacob Butterfield’s low cross was put wide by David Ball who probably would’ve scored if he had taken it with his left foot. Then came the chance of the game for City. Great work by Ball and Lewis O’Brien on the break allowed the latter to cut the ball back for Butterfield who, six yards out, tried to be too clever rather than shoot first time. It was a chance that we simply could not afford to miss, but misses like this over the course of the season is a reason as to why we find ourselves bottom of the league.

The second half was a poor spectacle. Not as bad as Oxford was a few weeks ago, but this was like a preseason friendly. Both sides now were happy to let the other have sustained periods of possession without any pressure on the ball and both sides looked clueless as to how to break the other down.

The only chance of note in the second half came to the Bantams, as David Ball’s low strike hit the base of the post before rolling to safety. City couldn’t muster a clear cut opportunity in the second half, with the off the ball movement non existent. Our play was too slow, too predictable and too easy for Charlton to deal with. Again, City had only one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes which was a trickling shot by Ball from outside the area.

Why players have developed the ‘too scared to shoot’ mentality is beyond me, but it is probably indicative of the lack of leaders in the squad and lack of those who are willing to take some responsibility.

As the game ended, and defeat number 24 of the season arrived, the mood amongst the City supporters was a strange one. There was no emotion – most people weren’t angry, some applauded the team off, but most shrugged it off as another game closer to this nightmare season coming to an end – and that is how the majority of us, I expect, will feel for the remaining six games.

Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

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12 replies

  1. This lot ARE THE WORST bunch ever to put on a city shirt.
    I will not call them footballers.
    Most don’t know what the round thing does, or which end you are supposed to kick it in.
    I watched the first home game and came away in disbelief.
    It was the first time ever I came away from a city game thinking WOW.
    NOT ONE of our actors stood out. NOT ONE!
    That was against Barnsley.
    It was a nice sunny day , only spoilt by 11 impressionists of a football team.

    The table doesn’t lie.
    We have been crap all season on and off the pitch.

    Time to flick the resest button.
    Let’s hope we can at least do that right!

  2. Apathy is the right response after such an abject season. I attended Bradford Bulldogs tonight. A serious injury to Bradford Bulldogs player Ryan Kemp put the whole of life and sport into true perspective. It’s a game. Not real life. Get well soon Ryan.

  3. I see no positivity in losing, be it by just one goal. You can’t make a silk purse from a pig’s ear. You rightly say we have no pace. We are easy to defend against. It was a better performance, however, we should be aiming to get results from the matches that remain. Bowyer’s persistence with Anderson is a remarkable misjudgement. He was terrible against Blackpool and so were others who were dropped. He lauded Devine last week. So why not play him? Hopkins played him out of position and subsequently dropped him. I say give the lad a chance in his favoured position.
    It puzzles me why good players become bad players overnight. Payne was our main weapon hence we paid for him to stay. There seems to be motivational issues. I believe we need a complete clear out and that includes the current coaches and start afresh next season. The memory of this season should be extinguished and we can start to move forward. What is happening to this once wonderful club is heart breaking. Let us at least go out fighting and not look to a defeat as a positive.

    • Devine hasn’t played for months so is not match fit. He only played 60 minutes during the week. There’s no point throwing him straight in and risking him getting injured again. We’re down…. Might as well get him fit and let him play next season. Most of this squad won’t be here next season

  4. How seriously is the club trying to avoid relegation? The dealings in the January transfer window would suggest not. Much needed, match changing, substitutions not made until four minutes from the end of a game, which we made little attempt to win. Lining up with effectively only ten men due to the constant selection of a player who is, not only sub standard, but patently not match fit. The price of season tickets appears to have been geared for LeagueTwo.

    Is relegation seen as the key to encouraging our highly paid contracted prima donnas to leave, in the hope they might not relish the rough and tumble of fourth division football?

    Listening to Gary Bowyer’s interviews, I find him very uninspiring . He’s that laid back, he’s almost horizontal.

    I find it incredible that over 700 City fans made the trip to Charlton. The club doesn’t deserve such loyal support.

    I’ve said before, Rahic has gone but nothing’s changed. If anything, it’s got worse.

  5. Agree with the above I cant understand the choice of Anderson over Devine, dont understand the persistence with Doyle, who for me offers nothing, cant jump, cant pass, hold up play awful, if it wasnt for 6 penalties his return would be abysmal. Why does we not try Patrick, at least he is quick, control no worse than Doyle. The mystery of how Riley has become so poor, having be Man Utd U23 captain needs to be addressed, maybe if he was given the same backing as Anderson we may have seen what Utd saw in him.
    As for a 2 year contract for Bowyer, please No, boring , we need wins, ok sets us up hard to beat, which doesnt work, but leaves his subs too late to effect anything. One good season at Blackpool doesnt mean he’s the man.

    • One good season? I suggest you do some more research!

    • There’s so much wrong, Bantamonthepiste, I don’t know who can sort it out. Maybe, Dave Baldwin could. I agree with your comments about Doyle. £300K fee and a reported £5K a week wages and struggles to do the basics of hold up play and passing. Preston must have laughed their socks off!

  6. I feel the article makes good points, and thought that in the first half we did enough to be on level terms, but in the second period the effort of the side did not reflect the urgency required, However my post is basically to question the motive of those spectators whose sole aim is to abuse players. Yesterday Akpan, Anderson and Doyle seemed to be the main targets, on the bench were Chicksen, Knight Percival and Wright who have all endured similar treatment. Regardless of individual opinions what is the point of this – it certainly does not help the club or the player – we have had the “your not fit to wear the shirt” adage, but a similar statement could be attached to some who class themselves as supporters.

  7. He may have limited options but in 3 of his games so far we have had 1 shot on target. For a team needing to win to survive that’s not very good. It’s ok been pragmatic but at this stage it’s not going to achieve what was required. His use of subs has actually seen us get worse in games apart the enforced ones in his first game……

    His insistence on playing Anderson for every minute he can is very worrying going forward. What he sees in him other than height I haven’t a clue. He’s given more passes to the opposition than to ours. He did ok with Blackpool so we will have to see but not convinced at all do far…..

  8. I’d rather have lost by 3 goals, but known we’d given it a damn good go for 20 mins. The game was close at 1-0. Given where we are, why not go for broke and try to win it…?

  9. Bowyer can’t be properly judged until at least 95% of this squad is out the door. They’re tainted with failure, probably wanting to get out of here themselves and have been completely ineffectual under numerous managers with v different approaches. It’s all well and good slating him but look at what hes got to work with.

    He’s setting us up to be hard to beat because thats the absolute basic that we fail at routinely, never mind our attacking play. I’d imagine that he would play in a very different way with his own personnel in.

    Please WOAP people if you read this contact someone in charge and get them to get rid of all the players bar 2 or 3 at the end of the season, it is honestly the only way we can move forward at this stage. I’m all for getting behind the lads but they’ve given us absolutely nothing to get behind.

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