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Bradford City 1 (Taylor 90+2)
Northampton 2 (O’Toole 43; Long 62)
Northampton visited Valley Parade with more hope than expectation that they could add to their victory over Southend last weekend. However, goals from O’Toole and Long ensured The Cobblers secured all three points against a Bradford side lacking the same intensity as their previous back-to-back league wins against Oxford and Fleetwood.
The opening 30 minutes of the match largely failed to capture the imagination with both sides doing little to test the opposition keeper. Aside from one early opportunity for Northampton from a set piece which sailed over the bar, the game struggled to really get going.
Bradford then thought they had taken the lead 10 minutes before half time when Paul Taylor’s drilled free kick from distance rebounded off the keeper, O’Donnell, into the path of Bradford defender, Matthew Kilgallon, who slotted home only for the goal to be quickly ruled out for offside.
Not long after, Northampton nearly scored an unlikely first goal, but an effort from Hoskins from just outside the box was well held by the Bradford keeper, Raeder. Bradford then had their own chance at the other end, but Vincelot’s header from close range sailed over the bar.
That chance appeared to motivate Northampton as they managed to grab the opener just before half time. A corner from the right was headed in by the unmarked O’Toole to give Northampton the belief that they could take all three points going into half time.
Bradford’s second half performance very much matched the first where they failed to really take off, while Northampton continued to build on their momentum. In fact, Northampton added a second goal just after the hour mark after some suspect Bradford defending.
Long managed to break through the Bradford defence and slot the ball neatly past Raeder to give Northampton an excellent opportunity to take all three points with less than 30 minutes left. Although Bradford had several defenders in the box, no one appeared to be marking Long who had plenty of time to take a touch and find the net.
With Bradford defender, Knight-Percival, playing as a makeshift target man in the second half, it really personified the lack of height provided by Bradford’s front line without the presence of the injured Wyke.
However, Knight-Percival almost turned provider. A long ball from inside the Bradford half from Vincelot was headed into the path of Poleon by Knight-Percival only for the striker to rattle the crossbar, with even luck seemingly not on Bradford’s side.
However, Bradford were given a very slight route back into the game in the final few minutes after an excellent strike by Taylor. Somewhat reminiscent of his free kick in the first half which lead to Kilgallon’s goal being ruled out, Taylor struck the ball hard and low which appeared to catch the Northampton keeper out as the ball found the bottom corner.
Despite a panicked end to the match where Bradford pushed forward for an unlikely equaliser, it proved just that as Northampton managed to see the game out and claim a much needed three points and a second league win in a row to move them closer to getting out of the relegation places.
For Bradford, the defeat was unfortunately familiar territory having already lost to Plymouth earlier in the season, which at the time, were struggling in the relegation places. Despite being able to beat both sides in automatic places away from home, the Bantams are still struggling to control games at home against sides which they should be beating (without meaning any disrespect to Plymouth and Northampton).
Interesting in this regard is that Bradford seem to have sorted their issue of drawing too many games as witnessed last season, yet Saturday’s defeat was their seventh at home in the league this season, which is a slight cause for concern as good home form is likely to prove crucial to any realistic promotion push. On a more positive note, however, Bradford still very much remain in playoff contention sitting 6 points clear of seventh place and 6 points off the automatic places.
On another note, Bradford’s new loan signing, Callum Guy, did get a relatively brief run out in the second half. Although playing at right-back rather than his natural position in midfield, Guy proved to be very calm on the ball with an eye for a pass. So, it will be interesting to see how he progresses in a Bradford shirt in the coming months.
Bradford: Raeder, Hanson (Guy, 66), Kilgallon, Knight-Percival, Robinson, Gilliead, Dieng, Vincelot, Law, Taylor, McCartan (Poleon, 72). Subs: Sattelmaier, Devine, Reeves, Guy, Pybus, Gibson, Poleon.
Northampton: O’Donnell, Facey, Taylor, Turnbull, Poole, O’Toole (Pereira, 88), Crooks, Hoskins (Powell, 76), Grimes, Foley, Long. Subs: Cornell, Moloney, Buchanan, Revell (Revell, 86), Powell, McWilliams, Pereira
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