The Sky Blues will be hoping to extend an unbeaten run of League One matches on Tuesday night when they make the journey to Valley Parade. Away trips to Bradford haven’t provided City supporters with much joy over recent seasons, although they have been notorious for contentious decisions and being rather entertaining.
On the opening day of last season it looked as if Reda Johnson had secured a point late on for a then Steven Pressley side. However, to the dismay of the travelling fans, the home side connected with a sucker punch to steal all three points with the last kick of the game. The Sky Blues are a different side this season though, and with Tony Mowbray at the helm supporters will be confident of ending the curse on Bradford soil.
The Bantams are in solid form and this will spark them with confidence as they prepare to lock horns with Coventry. After picking up respectable draws against Wigan and Milwall, Phil Parkinson’s men have registered three consecutive victories whereby Blackpool, Crewe and Scunthorpe all fell to the sword.
After a poor start to the campaign, Bradford’s improved performances have enabled them to climb up to 7th place. The main factor to their success is undoubtedly the stern defensive back line that they possess. Being an organised outfit has ensured that they’ve only shipped 18 goals so far, compensating for their lack of goals up the other end.
Coventry City are also one of the form teams in the division at the moment and they’ll be looking to keep it that way. A run of four consecutive victories against Peterborough, Barnsley, Colchester and Gillingham respectively have pulled The Sky Blues up in to 1st position.
Mowbray’s side are currently nine games unbeaten in the league and they are the highest scoring team with 36 goals after their superb 4-1 victory at the weekend. Defensively they are quite formidable too, only conceding 19 from their opening 18 fixtures.
Bradford City’s boss will have to deal with the absence of a few players when Coventry pay a visit. Paul Anderson is out for the long term with a broken leg whilst Steve Davies and James Hanson are both ruled out with knee and ankle problems respectively. Filipe Morais is out for the entirety of the season with anterior cruciate ligament problems. James Meredith is also a doubt after returning from international duty with a foot injury and Reece Burke could miss out due to a slight medial ligament strain.
If both Meredith and Burke don’t appear, you would expect Nathan Clarke and Greg Leigh to retain their starting berths after featuring in the last few games. To the delight of supporters, Billy Clarke is now fit and available after a knee ligament injury and the influential striker is poised to start the fixture.
The Sky Blues are without Reda Johnson, Ivor Lawton and Jordan Willis as the trio are all sidelined for a considerable amount of time. James Maddison is also unavailable too, although the creative midfielder is ahead of schedule with his rehabilitation and a comeback is on the horizon. In regards to Joe Cole, Tony Mowbray has stated that he needs to build his fitness before playing games so he is likely to be omitted from the squad.
The remainder of the squad is available for selection and the manager could name an unchanged side for the trip. After dismantling Gillingham with real ease, it would be very difficult to leave out anyone who started that game. Jacob Murphy may also continue in a central role, as opposed to his normal wide position, after scoring a hat-trick on Saturday.
Ones To Watch:
The 33-year old goalkeeper has been a key figure for The Bantams so far this term and he’s had a huge influence on Bradford’s defensive record. After progressing through the youth setup at Manchester United, he failed to make a mark at Old Trafford and he subsequently joined Crewe Alexandra in 2004 after a successful loan spell.
Playing 135 games for The Railwaymen allowed him to make a name for himself in lower league football. After later spells at Carlisle United, Colchester United and Hibernian, the stopper moved to Valley Parade in the summer of 2014.
Williams’ season has had its ups and downs so far. He was dropped soon into the season after a shaky start, but he’s now been reinstated into the side and he’s cemented his place. The experienced goalkeeper has now kept six consecutive clean sheets and Coventry will have to be on top form to beat him.
After only making a solitary appearance in three seasons for Sheffield Wednesday from 2004 to 2007, two separate loan spells at Rochdale gave him a chance to kickstart his career and he made the switch to Spotland permanent upon his release from Hillsbrough.
He soon became an integral part of Rochdale’s side and he went on to register 148 appearances before moving across the border to Aberdeen. Impressive form earned him a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad in 2010 and he has featured for the national side on seven occasions.
In the summer of 2012, Bradford City acquired his services and it’s proved to be a great signing. He’s been an ever present figure within the heart of the defence. This season, he’s been solid and consistent to contribute to a brilliant Bantams defensive record. His experience and knowledge of the game could be vital in attempting to restrict Coventry’s potent attack.
Billy Clarke is a well known footballer, particular for his exploits in Bradford’s remarkable FA Cup run last season. After breaking into the Ipswich Town first team in 2005 he made 49 appearances over four years before being shipped out on loan.
Following temporary spells at Colchester United, Falkirk, Darlington, Northampton Town and Brentford he was released from his contract by Ipswich. Blackpool took a punt on him but after only featuring 27 times he was loaned out again, this time to Sheffield United.
After Blackpool also parted company with the striker, he joined Crawley Town and this is where he reignited his career by scoring 20 goals in 82 appearances. Bradford City then decided to pursue an interest to sign him in 2014 and he’s since been a key figure. Despite his lacklustre scoring record, he’s central to most attacks and he isn’t scared to run at defences. Coventry could find him tough to deal with.
“It’s a tough game for us. We’re there to be shot at now we’re top.”
“They do carry a goal threat, very dangerous on set plays. They have Tony McMahon who we tried to bring here at one stage.”
View From The Opposition – Phil Parkinson:
Phil Parkinson speaking after Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Scunthorpe United:
“We have set ourselves up nicely for this game. We’ve told the lads to enjoy this victory now because very quickly we will be turning our attentions to Tuesday night.”
“Our feet will be back on the ground and we’ll be preparing for what will be a terrific game against a very good side. We will keep reminding the lads of what has been bringing us recent success.”
Like every other City supporter, I’m in a very joyful mood at the moment and the confidence I have in our players is the highest it’s been for years. However, I do remain realistic and just because we battered Gillingham doesn’t mean we are going to sweep aside every other team in this division.
Whilst the positivity is excellent and very refreshing, the ‘we are going up’ chants are a little premature. We still have 28 tough fixtures to contend with, and I have no doubt that Bradford will provide very stern opposition on Tuesday night.
As well all know, our record at Valley Parade isn’t pleasant viewing. The intimidating atmosphere in which the Bradford supporters create is something we aren’t used to away from home, and they could play a huge part. They’ll be in buoyant mood after watching their side turn around their early season woes.
To keep six clean sheets on the spin is a great achievement and it’s testament to Parkinson’s organisation. They’ll be very hard to beat, but if we play to our maximum then it’s certainly a winnable fixture. We have ridiculous amounts of pace in forward areas and if we utilise this to the same extent as to how we did versus Gillingham, it’s possible for us to carve open a resolute back line.
Again, the steel in our midfield will need to be functioning as The Bantams possess a few fiery individuals. If we do win the midfield battle, I have every confidence that we’ll get a positive result. Their absence of James Hanson can only be good news for us, he’s caused us alsorts of problems in the last few meetings. Ben Turner and the rest of our back four should be able to contend with any threat.
As for the scoreline, it’s always tough to predict in any game. I would certainly be happy if we gained a point from the fixture, and I think that’s what we’ll get. It should be a tightly contested affair and I don’t think there’s an awful lot of difference between the two outfits.
My Score Prediction:
Bradford City 1-1 Coventry City