|Bradford City 0|
|Scunthorpe United 0|
By Adam Raj
In the most predictable event to happen in this strangest of strange seasons, Bradford City drew yet another blank. Yet another blank at home to make it four successive games at Valley Parade without scoring. And in that time, City have amassed a measly nine shots on target, five of which came against Crawley Town last month.
It’s a truly dire record for a football club that has been starved of attacking and positive intent for too long.
This afternoon’s encounter saw a matchup between two sides in equally poor form. Scunthorpe’s slump, however, was much more alarming given their proximity to the drop zone. A point was all they needed to ensure safety and send Southend into the National League. A point they needed and a point they were evidently set up to achieve from the first minute.
Sadly, City approached the game with the same mindset. A mindset that, with nothing to play for, is hard to fathom. It was another free hit for a City side whose season ended weeks ago. The fact that goalkeeper Sam Hornby was man of the match in a game at home, to a side who have conceded 15 goals in six games, tells its own story. It is an increasingly worrying theme ahead of next season.
Fresh from their ‘experimentation’ at Port Vale, Trueman and Sellars once again elected to go with the 4-2-3-1 that started the Salford defeat in midweek. The only change saw Lee Novak start ahead of Andy Cook. And for the most part, Novak, like his teammate Cook, was isolated and struggled to make an impact. It was a change that had little effect on the general set up of the team. The general cautious and dull set up that we have been accustomed to watching over the last few months.
Charles Vernam, as he was on Tuesday, was City’s biggest attacking threat, not that the bar was set particularly high. His early run, latching onto a Levi Sutton pass drew City’s first chance of the game as he forced a decent save from Mark Howard. But that was as exciting as the first half got for City as they let it drift by, again failing to impose themselves on obviously weak opposition. Those watching on iFollow would have been forgiven for nodding off.
Despite their obvious deficiencies, Scunthorpe, as Salford did midweek, created the best chances in either half. Gareth Evans lost Alfie Beestin from Alex Gilliead’s in-swinging corner but the midfielder somehow managed to head wide from six yards out. It was one of those that looked easier to score. And in the second half, a fatigued Paudie O’Connor was easily brushed aside by a fresh Ryan Loft and the striker went one on one with Hornby, who produced a fantastic block to deny the striker.
City meanwhile, dallied, dawdled and struggled to do even the basics. The possession stats may look favourably upon City. But as has far too often been the case, that possession was in all the wrong areas. It took until stoppage time for City to create anything worthwhile. A good run from Vernam down the left saw his low cross narrowly missed by the stretching Clayton Donaldson.
Creating chances has been something that City have struggled with all season. Their deficiencies in front of goal have been there since day one. Even when Trueman and Sellars were on that fantastic run of form, it was built around clinical finishing rather than creating lots of chances. Now that the conversion rate in front of goal has predictably dropped, games have become stale and dull affairs.
City are apt at keeping the ball in the defensive third and controlling the game from that area. But as soon as the ball is required to go forwards, their weaknesses begin to unravel.
Often, both O’Connors play the ball between themselves before a pass back to the goalkeeper to launch up field. On the majority of occasions, this results in a loss of possession and City begin to retreat into their ultra-deep defensive shape.
City seem incapable of passing the ball, with pace, between the lines and are so deep that the lone striker has no support on the rare occasion they win the long ball. The team, as a whole, is far too static and everything is seemingly done at a snail’s pace.
An argument can be made to say that the players available to Trueman and Sellars aren’t good enough. But the general negative and conservative approach to games, even when there is nothing to play for, suggests the issues run deeper.
Whilst the joint managers have built up a lot of credit for their efforts in ensuring survival, there is very little to get behind ahead of next season, with Trueman and Sellars once again failing to capitalise on an opportunity to show the City faithful that they can produce something that resembles attacking football.
Categories: Match Reviews