Gathering momentum

Walsall 1
Scarr 77
Bradford City 2
Sutton 43, Cook 66

By Adam Raj

Four straight wins and four points off the play offs. Who would’ve thought that was possible only a few months ago? The turnaround under now permanent mangers Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars has been nothing short of sensational. And with every positive result comes that extra glance at the gap to the top seven.

That gap, of four points, is as small as it has been since Bradford City hit rock bottom in December. And with games in hand on many of the teams above, there is a growing feeling that this City side can muscle their way into the promotion picture.

Today’s victory was, for the most part, as comfortable as it has been for City since Stuart McCall’s departure. Walsall, still without a home victory in 2021, looked every inch a side going in the wrong direction. City had made two changes to the side that beat Leyton Orient in midweek, with Andy Cook and Ollie Crankshaw coming in to replace Danny Rowe and the injured Gareth Evans. It meant that Charles Vernam moved to his more preferred role on the left with Crankshaw on the right.

The first half was one of few chances. Crankshaw had the best effort for the visitors firing just wide of Liam Roberts’ goal after a fine sweeping move that involved Elliot Watt and Anthony O’Connor. Crankshaw was very lively in the opening exchanges of the game, not lacking the confidence to strike from distance and make intelligent runs in behind.

Watt, Levi Sutton and Callum Cooke controlled the game in midfield as expected with their energy and tenacity off the ball, overpowering a very young Walsall midfield partnership of Alfie Bates and Sam Perry. And it was one of the dynamic trio that opened the scoring. Sam Hornby’s goal kick was cushioned down by Cook to Crankshaw where a Walsall man managed to get a foot in, only to play it to Sutton who took one touch before hitting a thumping effort into the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.

It was very Kyel Reid-esque, albeit at the opposite end of the Banks’s stadium to the winger’s famous Bescot stadium strike in 2013. Some differences maybe, but I’m sure the away end would’ve been just as lively today. Hopefully, that isn’t too far away.

It was a perfect time to score to further demoralise a Walsall side clearly lacking confidence. The home side did start the second half with slightly more urgency, after a switch to a 3-4-1-2, but failed to trouble Hornby. City once again controlled possession in the midfield and stopped Walsall’s style of playing through the thirds, often forcing them into turnovers through long balls or misplaced passes. Niall Canavan and Paudie O’Connor swept up everything that came their way.

And just as the game looked like it was petering away, up stepped former Saddler Cook to net his third City goal. Sutton whipped in a delightful cross from the left for Cook to be afforded the freedom of Walsall to take his time and finish. The on-loan Mansfield man showed real composure to take the ball down on his chest and finish across goal. The movement in between centre backs Dan Scarr and Matt Sadler was intelligent, but equally, the defending was atrocious.

Cook had a quiet game yet popped up with what was to be the winner. He continues to demonstrate his striker’s instinct and looks like a good addition. It is unfortunate for him though, that he’ll be watching from the stands on Tuesday as City take on Mansfield, with the striker ineligible to face his parent side.

Cook and Cooke, who was on the end of a heavy challenge in the second half, made way shortly after. Danny Rowe and Billy Clarke their replacements. But just as City looked nailed on for another three points, Walsall were handed a lifeline. Tyreik Wright’s out-swinging corner was flicked on at the near post and hit Scarr to fly in off the post. It was somewhat of a freak goal to concede, considering the initial flick on was going well wide and the Walsall skipper knew nothing about it. But with 13 minutes remaining, City had to dig deep to see it out. After all, City have been known to throw away leads at this ground.

Jordan Stevens and Clayton Donaldson came on to protect the lead, with the former almost playing as a secondary left back at times. City lost their composure, after the goal predictably lifted a Walsall side who had created nothing for the most part. Donaldson, Stevens, Rowe and Clarke were all guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply at a time City needed to regain control in the game.

Walsall huffed and puffed but failed to create anything in the closing stages other than a questionable penalty appeal. City had failed to clear their lines and Josh Gordon went down under a challenge from Canavan, but referee Olly Lancashire waved away the protests. You’ve certainly seen them given but Gordon looked to have initiated contact between the pair, although I’m not sure we could have had too many complaints if it had been given.

However, on balance, City were deserved winners on the day and the hosts can have no complaints at coming away empty handed. It was a thoroughly professional performance that demonstrated everything City are about under Trueman and Sellars. Organised, dogged and resilient all whilst being able to play good football and score some terrific goals.

This form doesn’t look to be fading anytime soon, with City confident of beating anyone in front of them. That confidence and momentum will only continue to grow. It will certainly make for an interesting and exciting end to the season. And you can only imagine it’s now a matter of when rather than if City will break into that top seven.



Categories: Match Reviews

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12 replies

  1. I,m surprised,because of their professional approach to this run,how Tru/Con did,nt have Hornby wearing a cap in that sun today-i thought it cost as a win today-and it used to be a “given” for goalies back in the day!!

  2. I’m starting to get excited!

  3. We are closing in week on midweek now, keep the composure and the believe and forget the other results, they will take care of themselves as we have seen with recent results, if we keep tight as we are this could be the best turnaround season ever in our history.

    A strong squad with players ready to return to the fold and the best form team n the league.

    I just hope we can return to Valley Parade before the end of the season to show our support and appreciation for all at Bradford City on this Magnificent Turnaround, what we do know is that we will be there next season to show are full support in now a very possible League 1.

  4. I felt City made hard work of this game , too many passes went astray in the first half although with the style of play it’s to be expected i suppose. Vernam wasn’t as effective but Crankshaw worked so hard and always posed a threat.
    The defence were magnificent again ,how easy does Canavan make it look and Paudie is a born leader throwing himself at anything that comes his way.
    Suttons goal was superb and the pass to Cook was a peach and well finnished, but the minute we conceeded we failed keep the ball and gave the momentum to Wallsall .
    However another 3 points and the bandwagon rolls on , still can’t believe the turnaround !

  5. Not sure about you calling it a questionable penalty shout ,it was a nailed on stonewall penalty shout and we got away with one. Very good victory though and at 2-0 we were cruising. Bring on next week and home games against Mansfield and probably the toughest test of all Bolton.

  6. Great control of the game in general we performed like a home team against a poor side. Defensively solid – defending like men who care. Midfield play like a lads who trust each other , fight for each other an know each other’s game allowing flowing tenacious football at times. Upfront Cook is showing his worth with great fight and effort along with the ability to put his chances away when they come. This probably goes against public opinion right now but Rowe’s style is composed and very skilful although today it didn’t come off, I do think he is too relaxed and doesn’t really complement the rest of the team in terms of effort levels. He cruises which looks great when it comes off but as time goes on it’s noticeable that he does very little or non at all pressing which is completely out of sink with the rest of the team. I can’t imagine the gaffers or team mates are overly impressed deep down. I’m certain he has more in the tank to give. . We are though witnessing an amazing time in the clubs history for many reasons and with such little margin for error over the coming weeks it will be fascinating to see where this season ends up. Whatever happens we have an identity and a culture of hard graft and grit which is all we ask from a City team.
    Rich

  7. After the home win against barrow I said I would check in at the end of February as we’d know for sure then where this team is challenging. Top. Middle or bottom!
    Well it’s clear to everyone we’re definitely in a promotion challenge. My positivity about this side a week ago was probably as high as it was in 2017& 2016 where we were strong and felt like a play off positions finishing side for a good part of those seasons.
    Today I feel pragmatic. I think the really hard work comes now. I don’t think we can afford to lose anymore than 1 or maybe 2 games to the end of the season and need to keep a high win rate (draws not enough). 78 points is what I think we need to target and the range of 73-78 is probably where this trajectory takes us. Hopefully it’s enough. There are 10/11 teams still well in it. The schedule is going to be gruelling. Hopefully we can remain relatively injury and suspension free. Over the last month we have won emphatically, won coming from behind, won ugly and won holding out with a bit of luck. But we’ve won!! You can’t win every game convincingly but we have the habit of winning games now and it’s a great feeling! looking forward to every game. CTID

  8. Isn’t it great. Many of us are slightly disappointed that we only won 2-1 away from home and hung on a bit late on. We would have been thrilled with a draw 3 months ago.
    We really have come a long long way since the end of November.
    I am sure there will be stumbles, even falls along the way, but it is exciting to be a City fan at present.
    What pleased me yesterday was that City were simply the better team in every department of the game.
    The fast passing in midfield is good to watch.
    And to be able to have the luxury of bringing Donaldson on at the end says a lot for our strength. He showed his class again.
    Please don’t let us get carried away, but we are now well managed on and off the field, we have a plan, and the future looks pretty good. Even if we miss out this season.
    One last thought….I don’t think Rowe has fully recovered from his illness.

  9. I thought that we deserved the win and it looked like a solid 3 points untill the substitutions. Rowe just kept giving the ball away and hardly battled to get it back. Clarke was anonymous and i thought that he should have come on for Crankshaw and played that side tbh. If we are going to try and protect wins i’d bring on Clayton before Rowe as at least he competes up there and can hold the ball. I feel some fans were going over-board on Rowe to quickly and we need to give him a bit more time before judging him. It does appear though that the managers have worked out that Cook is the better option with 1 up top.Having said that we did deserve the win. Sutton was great and his work rate immense. The centre halves gobbled everything up. It did look a penalty though and the management duo do seem to have luck on their side which we will take all day long. We are on the fringes now and this will bring a different type of pressure. Win on Tuesday and thenwe are set up for a cracker against Bolton. It feels good to be excited about the team again.

  10. Well done to all the team and expecially Trueman and Sellars. We were in control until they scored and then they threw everything they could at us. It was a bit scrappy but we held on. Paudie and Canavan won everything in air. Was nice to hear Paudie barking instructions.
    This isn’t luck that we are where we are, let’s not forget where we were when Trueman & Sellars took over.
    This is management with a plan of what they want to achieve and have got the whole team wanting to help them achieve it.
    There are going to make history at City and I for one am loving every single minute of it..
    Bring on the next game.

  11. In all the euphoria, it must be remembered that the management duo were brought in to keep us in this league. Its looking like another one or two wins will do that. When you consider that this will have been achieved with more than 10 plus games to go, that is a brilliant achievement. If we had said that in December we would have been locked up.

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