Bradford’s winless away run continues after they played out a stalemate against managerless Newport County on Saturday. On a frustrating afternoon for the Bantams, County limited them to very few clear-cut chances, whilst also missing two guilt-edge chances themselves.
The draw sees the Bantams fall to 12th in the table, whilst Newport are only one point and one place behind Derek Adams’ men in 13th.
Even before the game had begun, the County fans were creating a hostile atmosphere, aimed at Bradford boss Derek Adams, following his celebration in front of Kevin Ellison after his Morecambe side secured promotion to League One in last season’s Playoff final against the Exiles. Although, it was Bradford who started the game in a more attacking and meaningful manner.
After just five minutes, City left back Liam Ridehalgh made progress into Newport’s half. His in-field ball found Alex Gilliead, who in turn played in Andy Cook, who evaded County’s offside trap. However, Cook’s tame left-footed effort was saved by Joe Day’s trailing left leg.
Minutes later it was the home side who came close to breaking the deadlock. Following a well worked corner routine, experienced midfielder Ed Upson headed the ball back towards goal to James Clarke, whose glancing header was blocked by Bradford skipper Paudie O’Connor. Bradford failed to clear the ball, which eventually found its way to the Newport skipper, Matt Dolan, who saw his volley blocked, again by O’Connor, denying a certain goal.
Just after the 30-minute mark, Bradford created another goal-scoring opportunity. Levi Sutton burst forward into the Newport box, and played an excellent low cross across the face of goal. Unfortunately for the Bantams, no one in a white shirt had gambled, and the cross evaded each City player in the box, and was easily cleared by County.
This attack summed up the first half perfectly for both sides. Both Bradford and Newport looked quite dangerous going forward, but the final ball and cutting edge were lacking.
Before the second half could get under way, both managers were forced into substitutions. Oscar Threlkeld was replaced by Theo Robinson following a head collision with Ed Upson late in the first half. This substitution saw Levi Sutton drop back into Bradford’s defensive line from midfield. Upson also had to be replaced at half time, by Aston Villa loanee Finn Azaz.
Following an end-to-end first half, it was Newport who had the best of the chances in the second half. In the 56th minute, former Bantam Matt Dolan tried his luck from distance. His effort bounced in front of City ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell, who failed to keep hold of the ball, but he managed to recover before any Newport attackers could pounce.
Just two minutes later, a looping cross from County left back Ryan Haynes was met by Courtney Baker-Richardson, whose header looped over O’Donnell. However, City’s make-shift centre-half, Yann Songo’o, continued his good form at the back for the Bantams by expertly clearing this effort from the goal line.
In their next attack, Newport managed to create an even better opportunity. After another clever set piece routine, Finn Azaz’s cross was headed back across goal and met by James Clarke. Despite being within the six-yard box, Clarke somehow fired his header against the crossbar, rather than hitting the back of the net.
Bradford had to wait until the 90th minute to fashion an opportunity to challenge Joe Day in the Newport goal in the second half. Andy Cook’s flick on from a long ball found Alex Gilliead. Gilliead controlled well, and fired a low effort towards goal from just outside the area. Joe Day prevented Gilliead from scoring his second goal in two games, saving well down to his right-hand side.
After four minutes of additional time, referee Sam Purkiss blew the full-time whistle. Bradford were perhaps lucky to leave South Wales with a point, after Newport missed two great opportunities. However, the Bantams will have also been disappointed not to build on their good first half performance during the second 45. Yann Songo’o impressed again as part of the back four, and was voted Man of the Match by the Bradford fans. Derek Adams’ side will look to return to winning ways this week, against Bristol Rovers at Valley Parade.