The perfect response

Swindon Town 1
Payne 78 (pen)
Bradford City 3
Lavery 16, Sutton 40, Robinson 75

By Adam Raj

Let’s be honest, who saw this one coming? The mood around Bradford City after Tuesday night’s horror show was low and confidence in their ability to compete at the top of this division was seriously questioned. Understandably therefore, pessimism, rather than optimism, was the general attitude to today’s trip to Wiltshire. The mood did anything but lift with the arrival of Derek Adams’ lineup which was missing both Charles Vernam and Callum Cooke, the latter of which not even making the squad.

City chose to line up in a 5-3-2 shape, with Alex Gilliead occupying a central role and Caolan Lavery slotting in alongside Andy Cook for his first start in City colours. On the face of it, a more conservative side than we’ve been used to under Adams, but the City boss spoke midweek of changing how his side approached away games. Less flair players, more grafters was the basis behind his comments. This certainly tied in with those remarks and was certainly understandable given how Swindon Town approached the game.

The home side was certainly an attack minded one and consisted of the likes of former Bantam Jack Payne, Ben Gladwin and Welsh international Jonny Williams. Flair players, technically gifted players, but you struggled to see where their defensive cover in the centre of the park was coming from. City had clearly done their homework. Gilliead and Levi Sutton, either side of Elliot Watt, were given license to break forwards and support the front two and managed to break through the middle of the pitch on numerous occasions. City looked dangerous on every transition – a strength that had been highlighted by Town manager Ben Garner.

But it was the more physical approach that managed to break the deadlock in the 16th minute. Oscar Threlkeld’s long throw was flicked on by Gilliead and Lavery fired across goal on the volley to net his first City goal. It always did seem the sort of game that would require City to score first. With Swindon enjoying over 70% possession, chasing the game would have been a hard task. The side Adams selected was designed more for protecting a lead, frustrating the home side and hitting Swindon on the break. Go a goal ahead and it’s set up perfectly.

Swindon were forced to rush attacks, often overhitting crosses and misplacing simple passes. To coin a popular phrase, City had ‘done a job’ on them. The home side were devoid of ideas as to how to break down a stubborn and well organised shape.

And it got even better for City just before half time. Matty Foulds’ chip into the box caused havoc as centre halves Mathieu Baudry and Romony Critchlow tried their best to wrestle with Cook, only for the ball to ricochet off the post and straight into the path of the onrushing Sutton who had the easiest task of tapping the ball into an open net.

City were in dreamland. Out of form and blanking in the previous three away games, but two goals to the good before half time away to a side who sat third at the start of play today.

Perhaps, even more impressive, was the way City managed the second half. Most would’ve expected Swindon to come out all guns blazing and for City to be under the cosh somewhat. But the Bantams never allowed it. They sat behind the ball, were aggressive and hard in the challenge and crowded out the home midfield. They fouled when they needed to foul, they bought fouls when they needed to relieve pressure and they admirably slowed the game down so much so that Richard O’Donnell was booked for timewasting.

And it should’ve got even better for City. Gilliead drove through the centre of the pitch, set Cook away, who turned Rob Hunt inside out before toe-poking the ball over the crossbar. Having done all the hard work to set up the shooting opportunity, the City number nine will be frustrated with himself for the poor finish.

Still, City were to get their third of the afternoon eventually, and again from an unlikely source. Seconds after coming onto the pitch, Theo Robinson spun on the corner of the 18 yard box and unleashed a fabulous right-footed curling effort into the far top corner. One touch to set, and one touch to strike. An immediate impact that the forward has threatened to do in a few of his previous cameos.

City as well as League Two’s Twitter admin may as well not even run the goal of the month poll for October.

The only thing missing was the clean sheet. Having looked untroubled all afternoon, Paudie O’Connor inexplicably handled from Gladwin’s cross when the ball was seemingly running out of play. Up stepped Payne to dispatch expertly past O’Donnell who was inches away.

With twelve minutes plus stoppage time still to play, it had the potential to be squeaky bum time. After all, this is City we’re talking about. But refreshingly, City managed the game well and aside from Harry McKirdy forcing a comfortable save from O’Donnell, the hosts failed to create anything.

A comfortable and well-deserved win.

Categories: Match Reviews

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16 replies

  1. Great result great tactics from the manager and first class reaction from the players .Now let’s use this result as a springboard and go on a run .

  2. I’ve been critical of Adams, but he got it right today. Injuries have meant the team has virtually been picking itself, with the odd change when a first choice player has been unavailable. Lavery showed you can’t judge someone on the odd 10 minute cameo. With Robinson chipping in with a “worldly”, and the possibility of Angol shortly returning, we surely have the personnel to provide Cook with the support of strike partner, on a regular basis?

    FGR will prove difficult opposition, but the team can take heart from this improved performance. It’s nice to celebrate a win after our disappointing run and, hopefully, we can combine improved league form with an overdue cup run.

  3. Really great to see our 2 allegedly “make weight” strikers both on the score sheet…2 great goals, and surely Theo Robinson’s effort is going to be a contender for goal of the season with that.
    People talk about classic British weather being “all seasons in one day”. In a week we’ve had the most dominant display squandered for a draw, a woeful performance & a 3-1 defeat, and then a master class effort against a 3rd placed team & 3-1 victory. The difficult at this level is not basic talent but consistency. Lets hope that today’s performance becomes the benchmark standard that they can replicate!

    • the key.
      Any team that shows a bit of consistency will go up.
      Look at Bolton.
      Problem is you dont get consistency either as a team or individually.
      Unfortunately that is why the players are in L2.
      Kyle Reid could be unplayable one week and anomynous the following week. If he had shown more consistency then.he would have played at an higher.level.
      But could managers too be inconsistent at this level too?
      Capable of brilliant team.selection and tactics one week and the.opposite the following week.
      Which is why they manage at the lower levels.
      Just a thought.

      • Not ours! When it works one week it’s down to his “brilliant selection”. When it doesn’t work the next week….well, it’s someone else’s fault!

      • I like the old quote from the French Philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre: “In football, everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.”

        Tactics will only be effective if better than the other team’s..and that’s before you get into the vagaries of chance and opportunities won or lost, by the width of a post. Yesterday, Adams outfoxed his rival manager. On another day, his tactics will be bettered by another manager who outfoxes him. Hopefully, he’ll be smarter more often then his opponents will be!

  4. Adams truly got it right today with his tactics. It was refreshing to see two strikers up front. I do however question how often City can get away with three at the back? Today, it worked to perfection. By far the best defencive display of the season.

    • I wonder if he plays 3 at the back because he doesn’t trust his center halves.

      Either way if they’re not careful it can turn easily into 5 at the back and we start going long every time.

      If he is going to go with a three I wish he’d give Staunton a go – a good ball playing center halves could really add value.

      That said we’re probably over thinking it. Let DA manage and enjoy the win.

      • City’s back three are very steady when the ball is kept in front of them but they are very, very vulnerable to balls played behind them into open spaces. Something I was surprised that Swindon didn’t adjust to at half time. Reality, Paudie and company are likely the three slowest players in the squad. That is the reason I expect that formation to be used sparingly.

  5. Once I saw the team selection I thought we would be in for a tough afternoon. It was matter of how many Swindon would score. I gave City no chance. Cooke not in the squad. Vernan on the bench. Gilliead and Watt selected again.
    A change in formation worked a treat. City looked threatening in attack and strong in defense. Dispite the lack of possession we looked in total control.
    Its a definate plus for Adams team selection, formation and tactics. Over the past few weeks I’ve been critical of Adams but after this he has shown he is capable of turning things around. Faith restored onwards and upwards.

  6. Like watching a different team altogether.
    The formation suited us really well and looked balanced.
    An excellent result.

  7. I can’t actually remember a greater goal, a more finely-executed one, in our colours, than Theo Robinson’s. For once the word ‘clinical’ is apposite. It shouldn’t be forgotten that he has 130 goals to his name in league football including lengthy spells in the Championship. Lavery also did particularly well to control a volley under pressure and direct it to the far post.

  8. Gilly keeps his place, Vernan dropped and Cooke not in the squad.

    We win 3-1. Who’d have thunk it?

    That’s why DA is the manager, an experienced football professional, and why we are spectators!

    I’m not sure I can think of any of our recent managers who would have had the bravery to mix it up to that extent. You’ve certainly got to doff your cap to Derek on this occasion.

  9. Credit where credit due. Cracking away win after the poor showing mid week. 3 well taken goals and 3 welcomed points. Something positive to build on for the FGR game.

  10. We’ll we did beat FGR 4-1 last season and on that showing yesterday City will be more than a match for them on Saturday. Lavery must start again and now Theo has found the target we have a front 3 all capable of threatening the goal. It is a must win fixture as well after the last 2 home results, but I for one am very confident City will more than ‘meat’ the challenge of the Vegan gentlemen!

  11. This is some rollercoaster! We win one;all is ok :>) We lose one; all is disaster! Welcome to League 2. We have a decent manager (and lets be fair, who better than Adams would be willing to come to VP?).
    Keep positive; back Adams and keep Sparks and Rupp accountable. After all, they hold the real power here.
    I see broad, sunlit uplands ahead. Maybe even League One :>)

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