The Trueman and Sellars winning run continues as Bradford City climb into the top half of League Two

Bradford City 1
Cooke 81
Leyton Orient 0

By Tim Penfold

Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars kicked off their newly permanent tenure as joint Bradford City managers with a win that could be placed in the dictionary next to “hard-fought”. Visitors Leyton Orient came for a point and defended manfully, thwarting City until they finally broke through from a late Callum Cooke penalty.

The big call that Trueman and Sellars made was the reverse of the one they made on Saturday – Andy Cook, despite scoring twice at Cheltenham, had to make do with a place on the bench as Danny Rowe returned. Other than that City were unchanged in their usual 4-2-3-1 system, but it lacked a lot of the fluency of recent weeks in the first 45 minutes.

Orient set up in a 4-5-1 and asked the hosts to break them down, and it was a challenge that City weren’t up to – their attacks lacked urgency, with a lack of movement and poor decision-making in the final third resulting in very little threat.

Too often City got the ball in decent areas, but then it was static and moves broke down. When there was space, the decision-making and final ball were poor – Rowe chose to shoot from distance when Cooke and Charles Vernam were free, and later in the half Connor Wood battled through only to put his cutback halfway between Rowe and Gareth Evans.

At the other end, Orient did threaten sporadically, without creating anything clear cut. City gave away a string of soft free kicks around their own box, but Orient’s set pieces inevitably found the City wall and bounced away, while their corners were easily dealt with.

It was an unchanged second half for City, and they should’ve gone ahead with their first attack of the half. Sam Hornby’s wind-assisted goal kick sailed over everyone except Danny Rowe, who had, in the style of mid-00s Dean Windass, taken advantage of the fact that you can’t be offside from a goal kick. Rowe seemed almost surprised that the ball had come to him, and his shot was tame and straight at visiting keeper Lawrence Vigoroux.

Apart from that though, it was the same as the first half. The passes were too slow, the movement too predictable. Callum Cooke was wriggling past defenders and linking well but beyond him it broke down.

Trueman and Sellars must’ve been wishing that they had Billy Clarke on their bench – someone with the spark to break down a stubborn defence – but Clarke was not quite fit enough to play, so instead they turned to two January recruits in Andy Cook and Ollie Crankshaw, and it was the latter who jump-started City’s attack into life.

Cooke was drifting left and finding space, and Crankshaw made a run inside for the pass. He twisted, turned and hammered it goalwards, only to find Vigoroux in his way again. Next it was the turn of Cook to go close, heading narrowly wide from a Watt free kick. There was a shout for a penalty, as it seemed Cook’s shirt was held, but it was the sort that wouldn’t be given without the Kop screaming for it.

There was more life to City’s attack, but not much more, and their habit of giving away soft free kicks was giving Orient some threat on the counter. Jordan Stevens came on for the fairly quiet Vernam, but still City toiled until the last ten minutes, when they finally broke through. Cooke drifted left again, feeding Wood who wriggled into the box and found Crankshaw running through. The substitute winger was bundled over, and this time the ref gave it.

It was Cooke, the heartbeat of the team in recent weeks, who insisted that the penalty was his, and he hammered it into the roof of the net.

Orient, to their credit, rallied as City sat a little too deep immediately after scoring, but all they could force was a couple of corners. Niall Canavan was imperious in defence, heading the ball (and once or twice an Orient player) away to relieve the pressure, and City spent most of stoppage time with the ball by the Orient corner flag, seeing out the game professionally.

The first game of the new permanent managers was very similar to most of the other performances when they were caretakers. It wasn’t the most fluent display – not all of them have been despite the recent good results – but the defence was solid and there was enough going forward to win it.

Meet the new bosses, same as the old bosses.



Categories: Match Reviews

Tags: , , ,

22 replies

  1. I definately felt our passing was too slow in the last third tonight, credit to LO for pressing so well and keeping such good shape when we had poession as I think that made our players that tad more hestitant too.

    A few times there was one of our players out wide and yet we kept trying to work it through a packed central area on the edge of their box. Crankshaws movement an dyanamism changed the game for sure.

    Winning ugly is a good sign though, when the chips are down do we have enough charactor in the team and quality on the bench to get a point or three out of the game? On tonights evidence it looks like we might do.

    • Watt and Sutton both looked jaded and in need of a rest. Not sure how that can be achieved without changing the winning formula. You hope the failure to sign another CDM does not come back to bite us.

      • Unfortunately the conditions last night did not make for good football, credit to Leyton Orient, they came with a plan and made it difficult for us to break them down.

      • I agree, in recent games Sutton and Watt have both looked increasingly untidy on the ball and made some poor decisions, resulting in them being caught in possession on a number of occasions, leading to dangerous opposition counter-attacks. Perhaps Staunton could do a job here as a back-up when he’s fit again? I also find myself frustrated at times with Wood, he’s an excellent and very strong, powerful player, but seems very hesitant at times to run into the space in front of him and create attacking moves – too often turning and passing it backwards. When he does go on a run, he more often than not creates good chances. Overall though, it’s wonderful to go into games expecting us to win!

  2. Not every game is going to be City at their best.
    Tonight was a good example of how to win without being at the peak performance.
    We look solid as a back four who understand each other and each do their job consistently.
    The midfield is not the finished item but is 100% better than ten weeks ago. And we have the ability to change it. Vernam was not at his best so Crankshaw came on to change it. Which he did.
    Up front the managers decisions baffle those fans who already idolise Rowe. Maybe swapping Cook and Rowe around also confuses the opposition. With Novak due back and contrary to popular opinion, Donaldson also capable of doing a job it can only be good.
    With other players coming back from injury too, I believe we will have strength in depth which other clubs may not have as the season comes to a close.
    The next few weeks will be interesting.

    • Just on the Cook / Rowe thing
      Cook looks the happier of the two when playing as a central striker and pushed upfield occupying the opposition defence. Rowe looks happier coming from deeper.
      Rowe I think likes to find space, pick up the ball and run at the defence in particular shooting long.

      Last night he didn’t look as comfortable in a traditional centre forwards role.

      My suggestion is that in the current formation he is not so much competing for Cooks spot but should really be taking up one of those occupied by Vernam, Cooke or Evans night.

      If in the future we play with a formation with two up front then Cook can do what he dies now as a No9 and Rowe has license to drop deeper as a No10 does.

      For now though the 4-2-3-1 provides us a more solid flexible structure and is delivering the results, so T&S are going to have to experiment with players best positions.

      • I agree with you about this Stuart. I’ve been thinking of a way to fit them both in as they offer different things. Obviously a front two of the pair should work well in theory but means changing the system. As such do we do what Kewell did with Rowe at Oldham and play in where Vernam or Evans have been playing (I want to leave Calum Cooke where he is!)? I’m not convinced on Stevens so perhaps use Rowe as part of the rotation with Vernam, Evans and Crankshaw? Of course there’s Billy Clarke to come back soon too. It’s great to have options which is credit to the January recruitment.

  3. I defer to a headline from 3 years ago ‘Did you enjoy the game – yes we won’.

    Sums it up really, because for the most part that was an awful game to watch – City lacking creation, speed of thought, Orient all out defence and trying to nick one on the break.

    Perhaps it is how far T&S have brought us in such a short time that expectations from fans have changed so much and that an opponent doesn’t just expect 3 points from us.

    For all the frustration last night we still created 4 or 5 clear cut chances over the 90 minutes and they didn’t create one. 

    Another striking feature from a few weeks ago is that we have a bench full of options and it is arguably from there that we have won the last 2 home games.

    What a turnaround – unimaginable a few weeks ago.  Keep it up City, it’s getting exciting!!

  4. “Niall Canavan was imperious in defence, heading the ball (and once or twice an Orient player)…”

    Brilliant!

  5. I defer to my article from 3 years ago ‘Did you enjoy the game – yes we won’. Sums it up really, because for the most part that was an awful game to watch – City lacking creation, speed of thought, Orient all out defence and trying to nick one on the break.

    Perhaps it is how far T&S have brought us in such a short time that expectations from fans have changed so much and that an opponent doesn’t just expect 3 points from us.

    For all the frustration last night we still created 4 or 5 clear cut chances over the 90 minutes and they didn’t create one. 

    Another striking feature from a few weeks ago is that we have a bench full of options and it is arguably from there that we have won the last 2 home games.

    What a turnaround – unimaginable a few weeks ago.  

  6. Yes, we could certainly have done better but winning ugly is still winning. I thought we could have (should have) passed the ball forward more. Too much went sideways or backwards and sometimes all the way back. The conditions didn’t help and Orient’s intent was clear. Not one shot on target from the O’s. Two highlights. The shot from Crankshaw and the save were both great. The penalty was brilliant!!

  7. The Orient game is not one supporters would want to watch again after seeing City in great open play for a few games and doing so well especially against good opposition However football teams are very professional and after city’s amazing run up the league table they will throw every-thing at us. We are going to have more tough games like the spoilers of Orient we won’t get it easy. And we have got six games that could be potential six pointers and propel us further into wonderland. Lets hope this already great team can go all the way ”fingers crossed”

  8. Its worth noting the good job that Donaldson did holding on to the ball and running down time. His strength and experience made him a much better substitution than bringing on an additional defender.
    It was good to see City being professional defending their 1-0 lead – too often in the past we have either sat back and allowed teams to take control, or lost the ball through trying to add to a lead.

  9. Well done City. About 3 months ago I put £10 at 25/1 to gain promo, come on boys do it.

  10. Someone posted a form table on Twitter last night that had City as the in-form team during the last ten weeks. Interesting, the clubs that were pacesetters in the division during the first half of the season have all suffered a dip in form recently. Whilst this is to be expected for any side to go through a difficult patch it struck me as notable that it had occurred to virtually all of the early leaders concurrently.

    Newport, Carlisle, Cheltenham, FGR and Exeter have all gone off the boil to differing degrees. Cambridge are still fairly consistent but Colchester have sunk alarmingly. I wonder whether this has had something to do with the circumstances of the lockdown and the short close season that stunted pre-season fitness preparation – ie building a base endurance level of fitness as a foundation – that is now leaving a lot of players feeling pretty tired? Along with ourselves, Tranmere and Bolton are coming into contention and I suspect that there is going to be a lot more fluidity in league positions between now and the end of the season.

    From our perspective we have the benefit of a rejuvenated squad and whilst fixture congestion is a concern, the size of the squad that provides the option to rotate team members is another+ potential advantage. I strongly believe that the prize is there for the taking and there is every reason to believe that this could be a history-making season – the first in which a City side has recovered from a spell in or around the relegation zone to promotion in the same season.

    Last night’s game was scrappy and there were some tired performances but neither were the conditions (a heavy pitch and wind) ideal. The fact that the team could grind out a result is what mattered but, as on Saturday, the big strength is the self-belief and bond within the team.

  11. Exciting times…………..

  12. Meet the new boss’s,
    Same as the new boss’s
    …Classic 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: