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Bradford City 4 (Kilgallon 8, Wyke 40, Poleon 42, Robinson 78)
Rochdale 3 (Henderson 41, 45+2, Davies 75)
On Saturday, Valley Parade played host to a pulsating encounter between Bradford City and Rochdale. Despite the wintry conditions, the 19,500+ fans in attendance were duly awarded with a stunning end to end game with plenty of chances for both sides where Bradford eventually emerged victorious after another late winner from young starlet, Tyrell Robinson.
It did not take long for the game to get started when Bradford took the lead after only eight minutes. A free kick delivered in the box by Tony McMahon fell into the path of Matthew Kilgallon with the defender slotting the ball into the bottom corner to give Bradford a one goal advantage.
Soon after, however, Bradford’s early lead was threatened when Rochdale were awarded a penalty after a foul by the goalkeeper, Rouven Sattelmaier. Despite the keeper making a good initial save, the ball fell into the path of Oliver Rathbone who was then brought down under the challenge of Sattelmaier. The German shot stopper made an immediate amends, however, when he stretched to save Ian Henderson’s tame penalty.
The real talking point of the game were the last five minutes before half time, which saw four goals in six minutes scored by both sides. The first goal arrived in the 40th minute when Charlie Wyke scored a typical goal when he met McMahon’s cross into the box and headed the ball over the Rochdale keeper to make it 2-0.
They say in football that you are most vulnerable when you have just taken the lead and it proved to be the case when Rochdale grabbed a goal back almost immediately after the kick off. After confusion in the box, Henderson slotted home past Sattelmaier to make amends for his early penalty miss.
Just when things could not get any more bizarre, Bradford increased their lead yet again after a smart effort by Dominic Poleon. Gilliead’s ball into the box was pounced upon by Poleon who smashed the ball into the top corner to give Bradford a 3-1 lead.
Bradford’s hopes of seeing out the remainder of the half were soon dashed when Henderson grabbed his second goal after some questionable Bradford defending in the box. The pulsating first half finished up at 3-2.
With the second half having much to live up to, it was relatively less frantic than the first. The end to end football continued, however, with Rochdale trying to grab the all-important equaliser and what seemed an unlikely point.
It took until the 75th minute for the next goal which did come Rochdale’s way. Substitute Steve Davies slotted home against his former club to give the Rochdale players impetus to try and snatch all three points after again fighting back.
After the Rochdale equaliser, Stuart McCall changed Bradford’s system from the traditional 4-4-2 to using a back three with two wing backs, which allowed young left back, Robinson, to move further upfield and utilise his pace against a tiring Rochdale defence. The change brought almost immediate results when in the 78th minute Wyke played Robinson through on goal. With just the oncoming keeper to beat, Robinson calmly rounded the keeper, took an extra touch to set himself up, and tapped the ball into the empty net to claim all three points.
Analysis and Thoughts
The result puts an end to Bradford’s winless run in the last few league games at home, while also helping to maintain their push for the automatic promotion places. Wyke again showed how valuable he is to Bradford’s hopes of success this season, while Robinson is beginning to show fans a glimpse of his ability by adding his second goal of the season.
Robinson’s winning goal again showed a different edge to Bradford this season. With so many draws last season on the minds of the players, staff and fans, there appears to be a lot more determination and confidence to try break teams down and grab the winning goal. A case in point was the fantastic victory over Wigan last month, where a point would have been an excellent result, but the team kept pushing for the three points and were duly awarded.
The left wing-back position appears to fit Robinson perfectly. When Bradford play with a flat back four, Robinson is limited in the amount of freedom he has to go forward as he needs to ensure the team keeps its defensive shape. However, as a wing back, the core defensive duty is done by the back three, which allows Robinson to push forward and use his pace to get in behind the opposition defence, play balls into the box, or take defenders on and score.
His goals against Wigan and Rochdale show clear similarities in how they come from a break away with Robinson already up the pitch ready and waiting to be played through on goal. The fact he is not afraid to shoot, nor short of confidence, means that every time he gets the ball in an offensive position, the Bradford fans are on their feet waiting for another piece of brilliance.
Another special mention also to the brilliance of Charlie Wyke. The striker was again perfectly placed in the box to finish with a fantastic effort. Yet his goal was only a small segment of how well he played. Again, he used his strength on multiple occasions to bring other players into the game and trouble the Rochdale defence in the process. His assist for Robinson’s winning goal illustrated his ability to play a perfectly weighted pass to break down the opposition defence, which showed similarities to the game against Shrewsbury when he played Gilliead through and forced the own goal to give Bradford all three points on that occasion.
Defensively, it was a relatively bad day at the office for Bradford. Although the goals made for an exciting game, conceding three at home – which were more than preventable – is a slight concern. However, this is undoubtedly something which McCall will pick up on and try strength as the season progresses.
For Rochdale, defeat means they stay just outside the relegation places on goal difference. Had Henderson not missed his penalty early on, it could have been a completely different game, especially as Rochdale were well and truly in the game when it was 3-2.
Rochdale can, however, take a lot of heart and confidence from their performance. Taking away the four goals conceded, they played some good counterattacking football away from home and were particularly good at spreading the play. If Rochdale build on this performance, it will only be a matter of time before they start picking up more points away from home.
Bradford City: Sattelmaier, McMahon, Knight-Percival, Kilgallon, Robinson (Hanson 87), Gilliead, Law (Thompson 77), Vincelot, Taylor, Poleon (Hendrie 67), Wyke. Subs: Raeder, Thompson, McCartan, Hanson, Hendrie, Gibson, Patrick.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty (Cannon 59), McNulty (Williams 46), McGahey, Daniels, Ntlhe, Rathbone, Camps, Henderson, Done (Davies 74), Andrew. Subs: Moore, Slew, Williams, Inman, Davies, Cannon, Gillam.
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