|Oldham Athletic 2|
|Hope 19, Keillor-Dunn 24|
|Bradford City 0|
By Adam Raj
I’m slowly running out of ways to describe this Bradford City side. Whenever you think they’ve hit rock bottom, the next game always manages to be somehow worse.
I didn’t think I’d see many more feeble attempts at trying to play football as in last week’s dismal defeat to Exeter, but today managed to top it. And for that, I suppose I have to hand out some credit. It’s quite the achievement to be able to display consistently bad performances, one after the other, with huge deficiencies in effort, commitment and ability.
Even with the departure of Derek Adams in midweek, this performance was very much in the Adams mould of defeat. Perhaps it’s unfair to expect someone who has spent the last eight months shadowing and supporting Adams to be able to produce a side deviating from the Scot’s principles.
Mark Trueman still picked the same formation, same underperforming players and therefore the performance and result had an air of inevitability about it.
Of course, Trueman’s hands are tied somewhat with regards to team selection due to not only the general quality of the squad, but also the ever growing injury list. Reece Staunton, given his first taste of league action this season, is the latest to be laid up in the physio room with what looked like yet another hamstring injury.
Away from matters on the pitch, City’s injury record this season has been appalling. Whilst Lee Angol’s injury is not remotely a surprise given his history, others such as Charles Vernam and Abo Eisa have no such history, suggesting the problem is City’s rather than the players. It’s another area, on a long list of areas, that require substantial improvement and expertise.
The remnants of storm Eunice were still being felt, with the journey over the Pennines being made particularly difficult for the travelling Bantams, many of whom arrived after kick-off due to the disruption caused by the snow. Right now, I think we all wish we hadn’t have bothered. The effort taken to get to Boundary Park was more than the City side displayed all afternoon on the pitch.
The early, positive atmosphere in the away end slowly dissipated with every passing minute after three o’clock. A poor start to the game predictably led to the hosts taking the lead. Nicky Adams’ in-swinging corner was met by Hallam Hope whose glancing header at the near post found the back of the net. It was hard to tell whose poor marking was responsible but Andy Cook and Yann Songo’o had quite a visible argument whilst the hosts wheeled off celebrating.
And it was to be Cook’s error that led to the second of the afternoon. Another Adams set piece caused panic as Cook’s wayward header flew across his own goal and landed at the head of Davis Keillor-Dunn who had an easy tap in at the back post. It was the sort of goal that wouldn’t look out of place in the park on a Sunday morning.
But they’re the exact sort of soft goals that we’ve been accustomed to seeing this City side ship. Easy goals, with little craft required to open the Bantams up, often with a helping hand from the men in claret and amber for good measure.
As is the norm these days, City offered next to nothing from an attacking perspective. There was visible frustration from Cook whose pain of seeing long balls booted at his head was felt in the stands. Luke Hendrie and Alex Gilliead also had a verbal slanging match as the pair conspired to lose possession one too many times.
Just to compound matters on a miserable afternoon, Paudie O’Connor’s off the ball tangle with Hope resulted in a straight red card for the City skipper. Given that the Bantams’ back line is leaking goals as it is, it’s a particularly unwelcome time to have your best defender banned for three games. The prospect of Songo’o, who continues to disappoint, as well as Fiacre Kelleher as the centre half options for Tuesday night’s visit of Harrogate Town is not particularly pleasant.
City did think they had fashioned a lifeline in the dying stages, as substitute Tom Elliott headed home Elliot Watt’s corner, only for the referee to rule it out for a foul on keeper Daniel Rodgers after consultation with the linesman. It did look a rather soft decision but a consolation goal would only have flattered City in terms of the score line. City had been well beaten.
The second half switch to 4-4-2 that many had called for had little impact. The makeup of the striking department leaves you scratching your head in finding an appropriate partnership upfront for starters. And that’s before you look at the wide options. Vernam, Angol, Eisa as well as Jamie Walker and Dion Pereira are all unavailable leaving only Gilliead and Nathan Delfouneso as options to fill those roles, with the latter producing a worryingly disinterested performance.
4-4-2 may be the choice of a new manager with a better quality of squad, but I struggle to see that formation being appropriate for this group of misfits.
News that Steve Evans was in attendance at Boundary Park this afternoon isn’t exactly promising news either. He may think that he’s capable of having City finish inside the top seven, but the reality is that this squad is light years away from what is required.
Trueman and Ryan Sparks were quick to state that this season wasn’t over. They’re right in that regard, we’re only 12 points clear of the drop zone and all but one of the sides below us have at least one game in hand.
But they also claimed that this City squad was capable of promotion. I’d say their beliefs are delusional.
Paul Jewell’s assessment of the squad was more accurate – “they’ve bought too many who are at the wrong end of their career”. Too many players who are the wrong side of 30 and who have repeatedly failed at their previous clubs. Is it any wonder that they continue to and collectively fail here?
If only promotion and league titles were won with sound bites and empty promises. We’d have been up by Christmas.
Categories: Match Reviews