Bradford City picked up a much needed three points at the weekend with a 2-0 home victory over Rochdale.
Goals from Alex Gilliead and Andy Cook from the penalty spot sealed the win for the Bantams, who could be considered quite fortunate, after Rochdale missed a number of very presentable chances. The win means Bradford move up to eighth in the table, whilst Rochdale move down to 16th.
Despite calls from Bantams’ manager Derek Adams and fans for a quick start following a poor run of form, it was the away side who began on the front foot.
Within the first minute, Dale had their first of 15 shots on goal. A long ball over the top of Bradford’s defence eventually made its way to Danny Cashman, who played the ball across goal for Corey O’Keefe, whose shot was well blocked by make-shift centre-back Yann Songo’o.
A lengthy delay in play followed, after a clash of heads between Dale striker Jake Beesley and Bradford captain Paudie O’Connor. Fortunately, both players were able to continue.
The next big chance of the game fell to the Bantams. Andy Cook connected with a Liam Ridehalgh cross in from the left flank, but his header bounced wide of the Rochdale net.
Rochdale’s Danny Cashman and Abraham Odoh began linking up well and causing Bradford some issues from the half hour mark, and it was this combination that nearly led to the opening goal of the game. After picking up the ball on the right wing, Cashman pulled the ball back for Odoh, who should have at least tested Richard O’Donnell in the Bradford net, but instead fired over.
Almost immediately after this chance, Rochdale were punished. Levi Sutton almost rounded off a good first half performance in perfect style, with an effort on goal from distance. Joel Coleman could only parry this effort straight into the path of Alex Gilliead, who tapped in to give City the lead in the 37th minute.
There was still time for another effort on goal before the half-time interval. After a number of crunching tackles in midfield, which led to the goal scorer Gilliead receiving a yellow card, Aaron Morley played a beautiful ball into the Bradford area, only for Beesley to head over from six yards out.
With neither side making changes at half-time, Bradford got the second half underway.
The first chance of the second half didn’t come until the 55th minute. After receiving the ball from the left, Morley fired well over from 40 yards out, failing again to test O’Donnell in the Bradford goal.
After this chance, Rochdale had a sustained spell of possession. Shortly before being subbed, Odoh managed to get in behind the Bradford back line, before a last-ditch tackle ensured that he couldn’t get a shot away.
Bradford’s game plan this season has been to punish teams on the counter attack, and on the hour mark they had the chance to do so. Callum Cooke won the ball on the half way line who played the ball to the right, finding Alex Gilliead. Looking for his second goal of the game, Gilliead cut inside onto his weaker left foot, and fired a weak effort goalward, which was easily cleared.
Just minutes later, the Bantams looked to hit Rochdale on the counter again. Liam Ridehalgh picked up the ball on the left, playing in another great cross, this time to Callum Cooke, who saw his left foot volley deflected, leaving an easy save for Coleman.
City were looking the more likely to get the next goal, but this time Rochdale were looking to strike on the counter. O’Keefe found Cashman excellently at the back post, who, with plenty of time and space, went for power rather than precision, fluffing another big Rochdale chance.
Bradford were keen to punish Rochdale for these misses, and pushed for a second goal. Gilliead played a through ball to Charles Vernam who attempted to round the on-rushing Joel Coleman, who denied Vernam twice, before the ball was eventually cleared.
However, City’s next attack did lead to a second goal. Levi Sutton, who had shown great energy and tenacity all afternoon, picked up the ball inside his own half. Sutton showed great pace and strength to get round Eoghan O’Connell, who was adjudged to have pulled Sutton back in the penalty area. Andy Cook stepped up to take the penalty, and scored, burying the ball beneath the diving Coleman.
With only 15 minutes left, it appeared as so Bradford had secured the three points, but Dale finished the game with a flurry of crosses into the area. First, a low ball in from another Morley free kick fell to O’Connell, who, trying to make up for giving away the penalty for Bradford’s second goal, fired over the bar. After a number of crosses were met with Bradford heads, another low ball fell to Matt Done, who casually hit the ball wide of the net, fluffing another good chance for Robbie Stockdale’s men.
In the four minutes of injury time, Bradford created two more scoring opportunities. An intricate one-two between Theo Robinson and Alex Gilliead ended with Robinson shooting wide with his left foot. The Bantams’ final chance came from another counter attack, with City failing to take advantage of a three on two situation.
Shortly after, referee James Bell blew the final whistle. Rochdale were left to rue a number of missed chances, meaning it was Bradford City who picked up all three points. Despite a solid performance in the back four from Yann Songo’o, City fans voted Levi Sutton as Man of the Match, after he won a number of tackles and after playing his part in both goals. Bantams boss Derek Adams will be hoping this win be the catalyst for a good run of form, following a winless September.