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Question of the WeekWhat do you think of the new timekeeping rules?
By: Andrew Doherty
COMPARED to other teams in our division, Bradford City is a big club. With its history, an impressive stadium and crowds, Valley Parade can be an intimidating place. Last season in the corresponding fixture, Town were overwhelmed after taking the lead.
Bradford haven't started the season as well as they would have liked or as well as people could have expected, and ex-Mariner Andy Cook has not been scoring as he did last year. He certainly wasn't going to score today as he's out injured. From Town's point of view, we were coming off an impressive, high-energy performance against Gillingham, and confidence should be high. With both teams in mid-table at the start, this promised to be a really interesting and important fixture for both teams as the table starts to spread out. 18,879 spectators were here today including 1,729 enthusiastic Town fans to watch it, a slight dip on last season's attendance, possibly as a result of Bradford's poor start but probably more down to the fact that this 1230 kick-off was being televised.
Town's starting team today was: Eastwood - Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Amos - Conteh - Gnahoua, Holohan, Clifton, Eisa - Rose. Bradford wore their distinctive amber and claret colours. Town were in traditional black and white, which is always nice to see. It was a sunny day at the Valley Parade stadium.
After 4 minutes following a Town free kick from Amos, Gnahoua tested Bradford keeper Lewis with a low shot. Kelly was booked for a foul on Holohan, and in a tit-for-tat move the referee then booked Eisa for tackling Halliday. Bradford looked like wasps in their stripy kit. Town buzzed around like bees, finding each other and playing the ball around nicely. The passing was tight. Town were probing without getting anywhere. At least Bradford weren't seeing much of the ball. Rodgers and Maher looked in control when called upon. On 20 minutes Eastwood found himself under pressure from Kelly after a long ball but dealt with the threat well, coming to the edge of his area and clearing the ball for a throw. On 25 minutes Eisa tried to make something happen with a run up the left. But Bradford broke. The ever retro-looking Walker beat a defender, cut inside and curled his shot into the heights of the impressive TJ Dallas stand. After a physical needs, tactical and no doubt TV break, Town launched another measured attack. Mullarkey and Holohan in turn forewent the opportunity to shoot, possibly in line with orders, but to his credit Holohan did great work to keep the attack going. Rodgers was booked for following through on a tackle before Amos received a yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Walker. Yet this wasn't a dirty game. From the Amos foul Pointon delivered the free kick near the corner. Rodgers headed clear, and Town's defence mopped up the ensuing attack. Pointon then did well to keep the ball in play but Town kept Bradford out. 37 minutes had gone. A Clifton interception saw Gnahoua in possession. Rose received and shot. Lewis palmed the ball away but there was no-one on hand to folllow up. On 43 minutes Amos then sent in a ball from the left to Gnahoua whose precise control was the stuff of circuses. Gnahoua capitalised by slipping a pass to Mullarkey, whose accurately aimed pass was met by Rose who slammed the ball home. Bradford 0, Town 1. Town were deservedly in the lead, having been the better of the two teams with their passing, movement and anticipation.
Bradford's players deserved a rocket at half time and no doubt got one from manager Mark Hughes. The way Bradford started the second half suggested they had. Two substitutions had been made by the home manager. Within seconds of the restart Bradford attacked. Rodgers cut out a Halliday cross. Corner to Bradford. Eastwood gathered comfortably. Conteh was fouled in the Bradford half, but Amos's free kick was overhit. But this was a fleeting moment as Hughes has clearly told his team to start playing. Bradford won a free kick on 49 minutes following a foul by Mullarkey on Pointon. Eastwood was forced to punch clear for a corner. A header from Stubbs won another. Mullarkey headed out a Stubbs cross. Eastwood was then forced to run and clear the ball after a long upfield pass. Conteh was then booked for a trip as Bradford surged forward. A Pointon shot earned a corner as Bradford continued to pile on the pressure. The longer this attacking wave was going to go on, the more Town were liable to crumble. Town needed to have some possession. On 58 minutes Bradford were finally pushed back when Clifton made an interception, finding Rose who was tripped 25 yards out. Town were guilty of the mother of misunderstandings as Conteh's free kick sailed past everyone. At the other end and more dangerously Eastwood and Maher also engaged in a game of misunderstanding which Town survived. Decent work by Halliday set up Pointon whose shot was acres wide. On 63 minutes a neat ball from Mullarkey was inches from sending Holohan away but at least Town were on the attack. A Rose back header went to no-one, which wasn't surprising as Rose would normally be the recipient as Town's central striker. A Maher interception started a move but the Bradford defence was too quick for Rose, and Eisa couldn't take control. Town were now coming back after soaking up all the pressure. Conteh did well to stop a neat offensive involving Pointon and Gilliead. A good long-range volley from Halliday went just over before the teams stopped to have their tea break. The restart was marked by a poor ball out of defence by Platt, which was matched by an equally atrocious ball from Amos but Town regained possession. Gnahoua cut inside and shot. Lewis saved with his palm. Eisa's follow-up shot ran wide. 70 minutes had gone. Efete replaced Amos. Bradford attacked but Town came back. Determined work by Clifton led to a sliced clearance by Lewis. Rose was then flattened, earning Town a free kick in the left corner. Gnahoua delivered.The ball was headed out. Holohan clipped the ball into a dangerous area but Halliday did well to shield the ball from Eisa and avert the threat. Pike replaced Eisa on 75 minutes. Town were pegging Bradford back but the home side kept going. Huffing and puffing Rose was beaten by Stubbs. Pike did well to buy some time, slowly advancing up the right on 79 minutes. Rose was crushed and Bradford attacked but Town regained possession. Holohan found Rose who although visibly tiring was fighting hard and won a corner. Gnahoua sent the ball across. Platt headed clear. The ball came back. This time Osabede cleared it but Clifton ran across and cut out the threat, earning great appreciation from the Town fans. Brilliant play by Rodger's set up a Town attack. Clifton turned in the box and fell over. It would have been a soft penalty. Town had had a more legitimate claim a few minutes earlier when Rose looked to have been tripped. 88 minutes had gone. Bradford attacked. Pointon provided a ball from the right to Gilliead who from 20 yards out slammed a shot across the goal and past Eastwood's outstretched right hand to make it 1 - 1. Six minutes were added. Town attacked. Pike was dispossessed. Afoka ran into the box, fell and was given a yellow card for simulation. Town then won a corner but Holohan dragged his shot wide. A long throw from Maher was cleared, then from another one Rodgers struck his shot against a defender. The ball rebounded to Maher who shot over from a tight angle. In spite of the all action finale, neither side was able to nick the game with a winner and so it ended: Bradford City 1, Grimsby Town 1.
As Town's first half performance was skilful and controlled, the second was gritty. Having withstood Bradford's pressure, Town resurfaced, took the game on, posed threats and played with great determination. We were unfortunate not to take the 3 points, and it was evident that Bradford have more room for improvement than we do. But disappointment apart it was a great game of football here in the sunshine at Valley Parade.
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