The midfield solution




Bradford City 3

Pritchard 30, Mellor 40, Ismail 90+5

Carlisle United 1

Olomola 14

By Adam Raj

Today’s latest come from behind victory and best performance of the season lifts Bradford City into sixth place in League Two after what was quite an entertaining afternoon at Valley Parade. Four goals, two red cards and another fairly incompetent referee later, and the Bantams come away with a richly deserved three points.

City stuck to the 4-4-2 this afternoon – Callum Cooke, making his first start for the club, replacing Jermaine Anderson and Paudie O’Connor back in for his namesake Anthony. Pre-match, the talk was all about that dysfunctional midfield and how it hasn’t yet been able to control a game so far this season. So Callum Cooke’s inclusion from the start was a massive lift given his encouraging cameos in the previous few weeks.

And the fans’ optimism was rewarded following a vastly improved performance from City’s midfield and Cooke himself. Tenacious, strong and an eye for goal – Cooke offered everything that the likes of Danny Devine, Hope Akpan and Jermaine Anderson aren’t. Matt Palmer also probably had his best game in a City shirt. He was confident in possession and more importantly, confident in his partner.

As the heartbeat of the team, Gary Bowyer needed to find a solution to that underperforming area, those two linked well together and look like a very promising partnership. It’s no surprise a strong central midfield display resulted in a strong overall team performance. Fitness permitting, they’ll be the first choice partnership too.

City started the first half quick out of the blocks and with a real high energy, with winger Dylan Connolly at the heart of everything. A man of the match display from the Irishman who was a relentless threat on the right side, Carlisle never had an answer for him.

It was the visitors who struck first though, in the 14th minute. Left back Jack Iredale drove forwards and found striker Olufela Olomola, in acres of space behind Kelvin Mellor, and the Carlisle front man finished low and hard into the far corner of the net. The goal came in a sticky ten minute spell for the Bantams, who had started be a little overrun in an area every team seems to flood. But City grew back into the game after the goal with James Vaughan having a goal bound shot blocked.

30 minutes on the clock and City were level. Kelvin Mellor with a first time cross into the box which Clayton Donaldson controlled and laid off for Harry Pritchard to score his first goal for the club, with another low, hard finish. Three minutes later and Carlisle were reduced to ten men after midfielder Jack Bridge was sent off for his second yellow card after a cynical foul on Pritchard. From then on, City controlled the game and played it at their tempo.

Five minutes before half time and City were ahead, with Mellor making up for his error at the other end, by heading home Matt Palmer’s free kick. City took that lead into half time and it was imperative that we built on it in the second period. Seemingly that message was given by Bowyer too as the Bantams came out looking for that killer third.

We thought we had it too when Connor Wood swung a delicious ball into the box, Donaldson volleyed straight at keeper Adam Collin before bundling home the rebound. Both the referee and linesman on the near side gave the goal, only for Carlisle’s players to swarm the referee claiming handball.

The referee succumbed to the pressure and disallowed the goal for handball. Strangely, no yellow card was produced to Clayton Donaldson, a mandatory punishment for handling the ball into the net, but that was no surprise as I don’t think the officials had a clue what had gone on.

Vaughan brought another save from Collin and Donaldson hit the crossbar before the only real downside of the game. Ben Richards-Everton saw red for a needlessly late studs up challenge, which was a very silly thing to do when we were so on top and in such control.

Pleasingly, City never took their foot off the gas and never lost control of the game. Carlisle failed to trouble Richard O’Donnell apart from a free kick which nearly went all the way in, and generally looked a limited side. It was game over in stoppage time as the absolute workhorse Donaldson set up substitute Zeli Ismail who, after a few step overs, slammed the ball past Adam Collin. An emphatic finish to seal the game and three points which were fully deserved.

For me, today is the first occasion I can say that, on the basis of the full game, we totally deserved the victory. It’s been a stop-start season so far in terms of results and an underwhelming one in terms of performances. With a trip to second bottom Scunthorpe United next up, it provides a great chance for us to gather momentum before a tough game at home to Swindon Town in two weeks time.

One thing is for sure, this performance has set the bar for the games ahead and City cannot allow their levels to drop.

Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

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13 replies

  1. I thought it was a very good game between 2 hard and tough and not unskilful teams. City deserved to win and their attitude was spot on. I was impressed by palmer connolly and bre until his foolish sending off. Just a word on the ref. He was not incompetent. I have no idea whether the goal was handball or not but it was noticeable that the ref never retreated to the halfway line. It was my first game this season and we came away happy,. It’s a long time since we did that. Keep it up

  2. The ref spoke to the 4th Official and apparently took his advice to disallow the goal. How he could see the handball from the half-way line when three players were in the way is amazing.
    Good to get one over on Steve Pressley.

  3. Right behind the goal in the Kop and the ball definitely went in from Donaldson’s forearm. Ref-bashing is getting a bit tedious – this one was consistent in what he allowed and didn’t and the two sendings-off were spot on.
    What’s not mentioned are the ugly scenes developing when we score at the Kop End with punches being thrown at stewards trying to stop people coming on to the field of play. It is illegal to do come over the barriers and we’re going to get a fine (or worse) soon. Morons in the front row taunting and threatening opposition players who have been substituted and have to leave the pitch at the nearest point is disgraceful and shameful to the City shirt.
    Two black spots on what was the best display and the best game seen at V.P. for a long, long time.

    • I sit right behind the goal in the kop and thought the goal was fine, it went near his arm but his body put the ball in. Not that it matters as it was disallowed anyway. Agree with one of your black spots, disagree with the other, the fans coming on to the pitch is a cause for concern and mirrors a trend of behaviour amongst fans not just seen at Bradford, the players leaving the pitch will have far worse than what was aimed at them yesterday, one of their players had a smile on his face when he walked past realising he had chosen the wrong way back to the changing rooms. No harm done.

    • I agree in general with the 2 black spots but the last two games the players have gone into that corner to celebrity,they must take some responsibility for the kids actions.As for abusing the off coming players as long as there is no punches abusive or racial remarks made he should ofve had the sense to go past his own fans and get a round of applause.

    • Sorry can’t agree with you on that. TV replays clearly show the ball didn’t touch his arm until it was over the line.
      Ultimately the officials just guessed and the Carlisle players helped change his mind.

  4. oh he was incompetent, him and the geriatric lineman on the MR side of the pitch.

    They missed so many obvious fouls and the lino even missed them right under his nose!

    As for the BRE sending off – fair enough that may be a red but what about the guy whole nearly broke Connellys legs a few minutes before? He only ended up with a yellow – wheres the consistency??

  5. The one thing that the EFL need to look at with some urgency is the head injury rule. We saw in the game two occasions when Carlisle players dropped to the ground as if shot , once when City were pressing that moved the attack 10 yards out of the penalty area, the other as we broke from a Carlisle corner , both times the Players jumped up and returned to the pitch with no interruption. I’m totally for the head injury rule but, surely, if a player has been hit on the head, medical opinion should be sought, other sports, for instance rugby league have concussion protocols in place , it seems that the cynical timewasting that blights the game is now adding head injuries to it’s list .

  6. Really enjoyed the game! Had a bit of everything and when it had finished, I started to think much more positively about promotion! Only thing is, I’m getting a bit sick of players slipping on their arses now!

  7. Good to see a team starting to gel front to back. I’d worried at the start of the season that Clayton Donaldson would be another Aaron McLean in the twilight of his career, but good to see him carrying a consistent threat (if sporadic goals so far). How many matches do him & Vaughan have in them, and what will our front line be when one or both takes a deserved break, or, heaven forbid, has an injury lay off?

    I imagine most of yesterday’s starters will be rested Tuesday. Fingers crossed that some of the younger/ more peripheral players step up and put down a first team marker.

    • Interesting to note what appears to be deluded comments by GB on City’s official web site. He claims to be quite happy with the depth and competition for places in the Club. He also noted how badly he feels for Anderson not dressing yesterday after playing so well, previously.
      I seriously doubt based on what I’ve seen so far that we have depth at striker and central midfield.

      • Yes Phil, I must admit I raised an eyebrow at his comments about Anderson. Clearly he sees something in the player that we don’t. I seem to remember some of Parky’s signings getting slated early doors only to come good in the second half of the season.

        Not sure how long we have to wait before Anderson starts firing. Its not as if he’s only just arrived at the club.

  8. I like the way we are progressing. Good points made in earlier comments – certainly regarding feigned injury, particularly Webster when the fourth official certainly should have acted when the player returned to the technical area. Donaldson’s disallowed effort was a perfectly good goal, given by the referee (closest to it) and the assistant (second closest), but apparently ruled out by the fourth official who could not possibly see the incident. As far as the result is concerned it did’nt matter but the referee and fourth official should be made to explain their decision.

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