No cutting edge

Scunthorpe United 1

Ward 13 (pen)

Bradford City 1

P. O’Connor

By Adam Raj

Well there’s no prizes for guessing who will be happier with that result. Today’s game was a massively wasted opportunity against a poor, poor side, who played 70 minutes with ten men.

Scunthorpe started the game second from bottom, the Bantams in sixth. With others in the top seven playing each other, it was a big opportunity for the Bantams to get within touching distance of that top three. Instead it was a hugely frustrating affair, completely ruined by a totally inept referee.

City started the contest the brightest of the two sides, with James Vaughan hitting the post with an acrobatic volley which goalkeeper Rory Watson knew nothing about. Then straight up the other end, former City loanee Alex Gilliead whipped a cross in from the right, striker Jamie Ward got on the end of it but his shot was blocked by Kelvin Mellor. However, referee Rob Lewis gave a penalty for an apparent handball.

It was a baffling decision, the distance between Mellor and the ball was a yard, if that. How on earth can you give a penalty for contact which Mellor knew nothing about? It appears the referee read the wrong rule book pre-match, we’re not playing Champions League football where any contact with your hand is a penalty.

After quite rightful protests from City, Jamie Ward stepped up and fired home to give the home side the lead. It was a blow, no doubt but this side has shown already that it has what it takes to come back from set backs and win.

The tide then swung in City’s favour. Another former loanee, Matthew Lund over-stretching after a poor touch, caught Matt Palmer late and the referee produced the red card. The City midfielder was hurt from the challenge and had to end his afternoon early – Hope Akpan replacing him. 

From then on, City were in control of the game. Well, in terms of possession and territorial possession anyway. Despite the man advantage, City struggled to create anything else of note in the first half apart from a Connor Wood cross which Donaldson managed to head wide, unchallenged from three yards out. The striker, making his 600th career appearance simply had to score. 

The second half started as the first ended – City with all of the ball but little to no penetration. Scunthorpe were more than happy to sit back in their 4-4-1 shape and watch all of the play happen in front of them. City didn’t get in behind the defence enough and there was no creativity through the middle of the pitch whatsoever.

Harry Pritchard was largely anonymous from open play and Dylan Connolly was full of running but lacked the end product, before eventually being double marked. 

City pressed and pressed and finally got back into the game. Pritchard’s 51st minute cross was tapped home by Paudie O’Connor and a well populated away end erupted. An early goal was just what we needed and was a perfect platform to build on with enough time left to find a winning goal.

However, the tempo from then on was far too slow, I lost count of how many times I screamed “faster” – the urgency just wasn’t there. The game plan (if you can call it that) seemed to be to sling the ball into the area from any angle with little thought as to how to create a clearer opportunity. I don’t think the full back overlapped the winger on either flank once – it was far too much of a cautious approach.

Ultimately, we played into Scunthorpe’s hands with our tactics, it was far too simple to deal with. 

Bowyer’s substitutions were also baffling. Connolly, although quieter than last week was still our best outlet, yet was subbed for Aramide Oteh, who I forgot was even on the pitch at full time, such was his lack of contribution. Shay McCartan then replaced Donaldson in stoppage time, no time whatsoever for the attacker to make an impact. Although I’m not McCartan’s biggest fan, he should have been on sooner simply for the position he occupies.

We were crying out for something different in the final third, the gap between Scunthorpe’s back line and midfield was there to be exploited, and pull them out of position, yet we did nothing. In my opinion, we’re far too limited in our attacking approach. 

It was a poor result, Matt Palmer’s injury looks worrying, meaning more game time for Hope Akpan and James Vaughan picked up his fifth booking of the season after telling the referee some home truths after awarding his 35th foul of the day.

Ultimately, it’s an afternoon of few, at a push, positives. There’s a lot of work for Bowyer to do to make us less predictable going forward, the defence is well drilled, the midfield is retaining and recycling the ball much better with the inclusion of Callum Cooke, but we’re not scoring anywhere near enough goals and that’s because we’re not creating enough clear cut opportunities in games.

We’re too one dimensional and that has to change.



Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

Tags: , , ,

9 replies

  1. Vaughn should be fined for his booking for dissent. Why do city struggle against 10 men? Scunthorpe were there for the taking. Predictability is easy to defend against. We don’t have the desire to kill teams off in this situation. The bench looked weak. We didn’t have anyone who could make a difference. Where’s Gibson? I assume he’s injured. Devine would have been better option than Akpan. He has got passion. Form players seem to get injured quite a lot. Or is Bowyer too soft when it comes to minor knocks. Ismail injured. Great impact player. Scored last Saturday made the goal on Tuesday. Unfit Saturday. What’s going on?

    • I really need to set the record straight here.

      1) Akpan was good today. Surprisingly so.
      2) We broke ten men down last week.
      3) The replay shows it was a great save. Definite handball but I have to say that you need to see the replay. At the ground seemed harsh.
      4) What was annoying was we never really slung the ball into the box. It was slow laborious passing around the back instead of pushing forward.
      5) Oteh had perhaps our best chance to score with a curling effort to the keepers left, that he just managed to tip round the post. So a bit unfair there.

      Going into the game we had won three from four with the same team (barring BRE-but as defence wasn’t an issue this needn’t trouble us). No one moaned we had no cutting edge then. Not even when we put two past Cheltenham. But yet, today, when they had ten behind the ball we now do!

      We aren’t struggling to score despite the fact many are now seeing JV and CD need to step it up. Vaughan is full (too much?) of heart but not much in the way of finishing.

      CD is living a charmed life. We all love him as a local lad, but let’s just face it. He’s been poor and would be slated if he was another person.

      That’s just my tuppence. Enjoyed today. Shame we couldn’t get over the line though.

      One place below the play offs on goal difference. Where did we finish under PP when we went up?

      Calm down folks.

      • Ben, I enjoyed reading your post but currently there truly is no comparison of this squad to City’s 2012/13 promotion season. It’s debatable if any of this season’s squad could get a starting spot in PP’s team.
        City are a work in progress and will need striker and central midfield additions in the January transfer window if they are to challenge for a playoff position. The Swindon game will be a good indicator of City’s early season potential.

      • Hi Ben, thanks for your comment.

        I agree with you, Akpan had a decent game but I think we need to add a little context. He was afforded vast amounts of time and space unchallenged in possession by Scunthorpe’s midfielders and due to their limited possession he wasn’t required to make many, if any, tackles. His passing was generally sound though and to his credit he was the only player willing to shoot from outside the area – his deflected shot leading to the goal. I suppose we will see next week whether or not he has finally bucked his ideas up.

        Re the penalty, it definitely hit Mellor’s arm but his arm was down by his side, not raised and the ball was fired hard at him from only a few yards away. No way was it a deliberate hand ball and it was a decision which even Bowyer was baffled by after the game. There was a similar block in the first half by Akpan which at the time I thought was a bigger shout for a penalty than the one that was given but I suppose that’s the level of inconsistency you get at this level.

        Oteh did have that effort, but from my angle, it looked a routine and comfortable save from the keeper. I still stand by my comment that he didn’t do enough when he came on. I think McCartan would have been the better option personally.

        I agree about Vaughan and Donaldson too. Maybe Vaughan’s suspension comes at a good time as he maybe needs a breather as luck hasn’t been on his side in the last few games – hitting the post, disallowed goals, missed penalties etc. Donaldson’s hold up play is important to us, but his finishing of late has been woeful.

        We were great last week, our plan A of delivering crosses into the box worked a treat as it is clearly Carlisle’s weakness. And of course, if we win, everyone prefers to talk about the positives and rightly so. But yesterday, when plan A wasn’t really doing enough, we didn’t change anything at all. The balls into the box were meat and drink to McArdle – it’s no wonder he was named their MOTM!

        No overreaction, we just need to be a little cuter and inventive when going forward, otherwise I think we’ll see more frustrating afternoons like yesterday.

  2. We are being too harsh. City last season were a disgrace, and if that standard had continued we would now be looking at survival itself in the football league. Instead, with a more or less new team, we are close to the play-offs. We are in the bottom division, and we should judge the team by that standard.
    Players like Connolly and Pritchard can be good against Carlisle but not good at Scunthorpe. That is why they are in division 2.
    Hopefully, Bowyer will get us back up this or next season.
    Longstanding supporters like me must remember that we are watching City of 2019, not the City of McCall, Beagrie, Jacobs.
    Be patient, don’t be too harsh, be thankful Rahic didn’t put us out of business.

  3. “Totally inept referee”. Change the record
    And it was a clear penalty – I’d have been furious if it had been at the other end and it had not been given

  4. If you miss the type of chance Donaldson missed then you don’t deserve to win any game of football so let’s not put this defeat on the ref. Looking at the TV replays it looks like a pen to me. Mellors arm is out. If that was the other way round we would have been baying for a penalty. Real pity Palmer is now sidelined as we are stuck with sub standard replacements in Akpan Devine and Anderson, none of whom are good enough for a promotion chasing team.

  5. Like Omar Daley, Kyle Reid, and many others the difference between playing in the top divisions and the lower leagues is consistency.
    Cooke Pritchard and others fall into this category

    In League Two its something we have to get used to. We did last time and eventually got up.
    Players are in League Two for a reason. Thats simply why there are divisions with improvements in skills and consistency getting better the higher you go.

  6. We are 4 points from Top, not ripping trees up, let’s give it another 5 games, a bit more time to gel, then if we get to the Top, still playing poor, then we can really rip into them and dampening the morale & spirit, and watch us slide down the league, Lol

    I am loving this compared to that tripe last season, come on City pull your finger out, we need to start winning 3-0 to prove we are the finished article, but don’t lose or that will be it, going out of the football league, Lol

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