|Bradford City 1|
|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