Bradford City must take their chances versus Carlisle United

Bradford City vs Carlisle United preview

By Ryan Towriss

Andy Cook rightfully took the plaudits despite a frustrating Bradford City performance against Hartlepool United. Reaching 25 goals for the season is a fantastic achievement, but it’s tempting to wonder where City would be in the table without Cook’s mammoth contribution.

The Bantams hoped to face Carlisle United having closed the gap on the top two but instead the automatic places are slipping away. Thankfully, some of the damage was limited as Carlisle and Stevenage cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw at the weekend, but City need to be mindful of not slipping out of the top seven altogether.

Having finished 20th in League Two last season, the pundits considered The Cumbrians chances of reaching the top half of the table this season to be slim. In a poll conducted by the News & Star, the fans were more optimistic, on average deciding that Carlisle would finish in 8th position. The fact the team are now contenders for automatic promotion must be beyond most expectations.

It’s not hard to see why Carlisle United are having an impressive season. Like City, The Cumbrians have their talisman with Kristian Dennis scoring 18 goals so far. Importantly and unlike City, goals have come from elsewhere in the team. The Carlisle defenders who started against Stevenage have this season contributed 13 goals. City’s back line versus Hartlepool United have contributed none. The systems operated by both teams are of course different, with Carlisle opting for a back five, but Hughes must surely be concerned the rest of the team aren’t chipping in with enough goals.

The Bantams should be buoyed by the fact that, against Stevenage, Carlisle only managed one shot on goal, and were judged to have created no clear-cut chances. City on the other hand had seven shots on target at the weekend and had five chances considered clear-cut. This could be an indication that Carlisle are running out of steam and that City are creating enough chances but unable seize the advantage. Pragmatically, you could also point out the perceived difference in quality between Hartlepool and Stevenage.

In my view, it’s a good sign that City are creating chances, but I am concerned that we don’t always have the quality to put the ball into the net. If Bradford City are to finish this season in the play offs or better, then we may need to find more ways rather than solely relying on Cook.

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8 replies

  1. Nice article but to a large extent it’s all been said before. We are vastly over-reliant on Cook and the other players need to chip in with goals. Wouldn’t it be nice – and surprising – if one of our centre-backs nodded one in from a corner or a fullback pinged in a pearler from twenty yards. Anybody who does not turn it on for us tonight in a match of this importance should not be here next season. This is the season in a nutshell: it tells us if we’ve got it or we’re pretenders. Not only do we need to win: we need to give them a spanking to knock them
    off their stride for the rest of the season and as payback for their gloating victory at Christmas. Just do it, City.

  2. Possibly Walker won’t start tonight due to injury?
    Maybe a change to 4231, with Banks in and also East for Costello? Smallwood looked better when moved alongside Clayton.
    MH has a difficult job but he sees the players every day, sees their running stats and can decide the best way forward.
    A win puts us back in the mix for top 3, though I can’t see us dropping out of playoffs.

  3. Honestly, who would have thought at the beginning of the season that Hughes would turn into a pragmatic manager. Setting up not to lose is negative football. The midfield should be the engine and not the brakes!!

  4. I fear this could be a VERY frustrating watch tonight. In their 14 games since defeating City on Boxing Day at Brunton Park where the home team ‘enjoyed’ 37.7% possession, Carlisle have only once achieved possession of 60%, that being at home to Mansfield (61.8%) when an early goal from the visitors forced United out of their shell and ended in a very comfortable 4-0 win for Mansfield. Sitting back and playing on the break is clearly Paul Simpson’s strategy for his team whether home or away – even the 5-1 defeat of Barrow and 5-2 win at Crawley produced possession stats of just 47.4% and 33.8% respectively. An early goal for City tonight is, I feel, essential otherwise, assuming Carlisle perform tactically in their time honoured fashion (and why wouldn’t they?!), by the 30 minute mark with the score 0-0 (or worse!) the natives are going to start getting restless – and we all know what the likely outcome tends to be when that happens!

  5. The same Kristian Dennis who was waiting at Valley Parade to sign for us on deadline day a few years back. Chesterfield pulled the plug at the elevnth hour .

  6. Current stats read
    Cookie 25 goals 5 assists
    Banks 4 goals 3 assists
    Wright 4 goals 2 assists
    Smallwood 3 goals 4 assists
    Oliver 3 goals 0 assists
    Elisa 2 goals 0 assists
    Walker 2 goals 0 assists
    Chapmam 1 goals 4 assists
    So with the exception of Smallwood and maybe chapman I personally feel that to tinker with midfield ie
    Start Banks , East , and maybe Periera the gamble would only be positive all others have had games and not really produced any really positive effect
    First one out for me is Gillead fancy and flatters to come up with nothing for 2 seasons now

  7. 5 at the back for city might be an option now crichlow is available again
    I actually like gillead as a right back / wing back too so that’s an option
    Let’s see

  8. Never mind where would City be without Cook , what about Harry Lewis , he has been immense between the posts !

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