Before the game you would arguably say a point against a very organised Bradford side would be a good one. However, when you’re sitting 20th in the league and this was your game in hand, you’d probably be dying for three. Ok, I’m not saying I’m happy with a point but the overall performance was much better. It was a game of two halves a little but a draw was probably a fair result in reflection.
The away side had the better start and on just 4 minutes they carved open their first chance of the tie. A drilled low cross from out wide picked out James Hanson inside the City box but he uncharacteristically blazed over. Just a few minutes later though and the Sky Blues missed a golden oppurtunity themselves. Marcus Tudgay cut in from the edge of area and played a superb ball through to Frank Nouble, you would of then put your house on the striker scoring but he rolled the ball wide of the post from just outside the six yard box.
Both teams found possession hard to keep on a poor, bobbly Ricoh pitch but this favoured the away side more as their style of play suits it, plus they have a pitch of their own which is in even worse condition than ours. Despite this, we seemed to look the better side for the remainder of the first period and created a number of guilt edge chances. The next real chance came about after a deep Jim O’Brien ball on 18 minutes, with Aaron Martin beating the ‘keeper to the ball to no avail as his header dropped just over the bar. The Sky Blues continued to apply the pressure and a few more half chances were passed by before another ‘he should of scored’ moment occurred. There was 43 minutes on the clock when Frank Nouble showed excellent feet before picking out a back post cross in which Aaron Phillips headed across goal in to Tudgay’s path, his effort then went over again despite it looking easier to score.
City did score a deserved opener on the stroke of half time though to put themselves 1-0 up. Sanmi Odelusi; who earned a starting berth after his impressive cameo display from the substitute bench on Saturday; played a neat ball out wide to Aaron Phillips. The right back’s pinpoint cross then fell straight in to Frank Nouble’s path and the striker slid in to knock the ball home at the back post. The half time whistle sounded soon after to ensure the Sky Blues were leading at the break. We undoubtedly had the better of the first half and probably should have been another goal or two to the good. Bradford also found chances hard to come by as the defence looked organised and solid. But would these missed chances come back to bite us?
The second half was a little different to the first, with the away side looking in control of the game despite creating many chances. Their first chance did come on 52 minutes though as Mark Yeates flashed a right footed effort at Burge from the edge of the box but the young goalkeeper held on comfortably. A similar chance was fashioned on 63 minutes as the Bantams continued to attack, and Burge was forced in to a relatively comfortable save as Yeates was allowed to let fly again. Despite the away side having chances, the Sky Blues defence were looking fairly comfortable as any openings that were created came from long range and didn’t really trouble the goal.
However, with the City back line coming under heightening pressure a free kick was given away right on the edge of the area, in an identical position to the one we conceded Saturday after an Aaron Martin foul. As well as the positioning of the free kick being practically identical, the end product was too as Mark Yeates wrapped his effort around the wall and in off the post to make it 1-1. It was a goal that looked likely as Bradford mounted the pressre, but it was very dissapointing the way in which it was conceded as from open play the away side didn’t look too dangerous.
After scoring, Bradford had a spell where they were really on top but the Sky Blues had a flourish in the final ten minutes as they looked for a winner. With 81 minutes played the easiest chance of the game came about. A great Marcus Tudgay cross picked out Chris Stokes in the area and his wrongly hit effort fell straight in to Nick Proschwitz’s path but the striker inexplicably missed an absolute sitter to the utter disbelief of the home crowd. City continued to press but it was the Bantams who had the final chance of the affair as they countered with real pace, a cross was then floated in and James Hanson headed towards goal but Lee Burge got down tremendously to stop his effort and saved the Sky Blues a point.
I think the performance was an improvement on Saturday’s display, and a point against a high-flying Bradford City cannot be sniffed at. Defensively we looked more of a unit and we restricted a good attacking side to very little, along with stopping crosses which would of caused the most danger when you take in to account their aerial threat. On the attacking front their was plenty of positives too as we created a bundle of chances, we’ve just got to put them away… That’s the difference between us and the better sides in the division. They finish their chances. At the end of the day, our poor finishing has cost us an extra two points which would have been vital in this relegation battle we find ourselves in. At times I thought the gap between the midfield and the strikers was too big, as when the ball was lumped forward the front line then had no support and were a bit isolated… But again, we still created.
Leyton Orient now sit just two points behind us with one game in hand, which puts us under more pressure to win games as any slip ups now could cause us huge issues. The final month or so of the campaign is arguably the biggest in the clubs history as relegation could be the death of the Sky Blues. We have eleven league games left, and a lot of those come against teams in and around us… Win them and we are safe, simple. It won’t be easy though, but if the lads show a bit of bottle why can’t we stay up?
I have reason to believe after tonight’s performance. If we defend with the resilience we’ve shown against Bradford and MK Dons and continue creating chances (but scoring them) I am confident we can beat the dreaded drop. We face a good Chesterfield side on Saturday but we need three points, so let’s hope we can take the positives from tonight and transfer them in to a good performance and three points at the weekend! It was two points dropped again tonight… We need to start winning games!
Lee Burge – 7
Aaron Phillips – 7
Aaron Martin – 6.5
Matthew Pennington – 7
Chris Stokes – 6.5
Jim O’Brien – 7
John Fleck – 7.5
Adam Barton – 6
Sanmi Odelusi – 6.5
Marcus Tudgay – 7
Frank Nouble – 7
Andy Webster – 6.5
Dominic Samuel – 6
Nick Proschwitz – 5