|Bolton Wanderers 1||Bradford City 0|
By Tim Penfold
There very nearly wasn’t a match report tonight. The Football League’s much-criticised iFollow service failed miserably in the first half, ensuring that I watched about half of the action several minutes behind live on a mobile phone screen, desperately trying to avoid spoilers on Twitter. The rest of the half was spent watching it buffer over and over.
At the weekend, Ryan Sparks wondered why more City fans hadn’t parted with £10 to watch – the poor quality service provided is part of the answer.
The other part of the answer to poor sales was on full display in the first half. City’s performance was, put bluntly, pathetic. The team seemed unable to string two passes together going forward and were cut open far too often when Bolton came forward.
The goal itself was shambolic – Elliot Watt’s weak back header let Antoni Sarcevic in to lob Richard O’Donnell, and as the ball looped back off the crossbar the entire Bantams backline stood there transfixed, as if unable to comprehend what that round thing flying through the air was.
If O’Donnell had been alert, he would’ve had an easy catch. If Watt had been competent, the header would’ve gone over the bar for a corner rather than rebounding off it. If any of the other defenders had been paying attention then maybe Nathan Delfouenso wouldn’t have had the freedom of the penalty area to fire in the rebound.
In many ways, City were fortunate to only go in a goal down at half time. Bolton lacked the quality to create more clear chances, and City’s defence didn’t hand out any more freebies, but the team barely threatened going forward and repeatedly gave away possession sloppily.
There were no changes at half time, but City did improve in the second period, though they didn’t create much. Clayton Donaldson’s touch let him down when nearly clean through, while Bryce Hosannah, the bright spark in the team tonight, clipped a shot just wide having forced his way past the defence. Bolton did threaten on the counter as well, with former Stuart McCall target Ali Crawford placing one good chance just wide.
Finally, City’s pressure told, when a clever through pass from Billy Clarke led to a foul on Anthony O’Connor in the box. Clarke stepped up to take the penalty, but his low effort lacked power and Bolton’s heavily criticised keeper Billy Crellin made the save.
And after that? Nothing. The miss knocked the stuffing out of City, who lacked the mental strength and determination to come back. Clarke’s removal for Austin Samuels took the last remaining creativity out of the team and it was brainless hoof or slow sideways pass from the rest of the team for the rest of the game.
This team lacks both creativity and the ability to take chances. The defence always has the risk of a major error. But worst of all, this team gives up. It gave up on Saturday during the second half, and after not showing up for the first half today it gave up again once something went against them.
Stuart McCall the manager’s team could not be more different from Stuart McCall the player.
The next two games are huge. Newly-promoted Barrow got their first win in the league tonight, against a Mansfield side who seem happy to gift three points to whoever visits them, but are not a strong side. And if we cannot beat Southend, who are relegation certainties even at this stage, then we will spend the winter looking down, not up.
Categories: Match Reviews