A clinical Hartlepool side picked up their first away victory of the League 2 campaign with a comfortable 3-1 victory of the Bantams on Tuesday night. Many Bradford fans left the game early, as Derek Adams’ side produced one of their poorest displays since the arrival of Adams in the summer.
Bradford got off to the worst possible start by conceding within the first minute. Hartlepool won the ball back in midfield following a poor clearance from City. With Yann Songo’o being caught out on the edge of the area, Gavan Holohan attempted a low driven cross-shot, which was spilled by City ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell. Mark Cullen was first to react, and was able to turn within the six-yard box, before firing the ball into the back of the net.
There was no instant response from City, and it wasn’t until after the half-hour mark that they were able to really worry Ben Killip in the Hartlepool goal. A long ball forward saw Levi Sutton burst forward onto a knock down from Andy Cook. Sutton was able to curl an effort towards goal, but his effort veered narrowly wide of Killip’s goal.
Soon after Sutton’s effort, things could have got even worse for the Bantams. Paudie O’Connor mistimed his interception, which gave Luke Molyneux plenty of time and space to drive into the City penalty area. With Yann Songo’o attempting to get his body in the way of the ball, Molyneux saw his effort creep narrowly wide of O’Donnell’s goal, keeping City in the game going into the second half.
Bradford never really got going after the half-time interval, and before the hour mark they found themselves two goals down. After a good one-two with Molyneux, former Newcastle United full back Jamie Sterry was able to cross the ball in from the touchline. Elliot Watt and Paudie O’Connor got in each other’s way trying to clear the ball, and therefore Sterry’s cross was able to find Cullen in the box, who scored his second of the game with a cushioned header.
Following Hartlepool and Cullen’s second goal, the Bantams were able to have some sustained possession deep into the visitor’s half. With little over 15 minutes remaining, City halved the deficit. Callum Cooke played a high corner into the box, which O’Connor headed powerfully past Ben Killip to give the Bantams hope of getting something from the game.
However, after failing to really test Killip following O’Connor’s goal, it was Hartlepool who once again found themselves on the front foot. Matty Daly reclaimed possession for Hartlepool on the half way line, and was able to make his way towards the Bantams’ penalty unopposed. Daly eventually fired an effort towards goal, but a deflection took his shot just over the crossbar.
With City still in the game with ten minutes remaining, they almost found themselves level in fortunate circumstances. After an uncontested drop ball, Levi Sutton attempted to lob Killip from distance, but the Hartlepool ‘keeper was able to tip the ball over for a corner, which saw him collide into the goalpost.
Although, City struggled to really test Killip following this effort on goal. With Bradford pushing more players forward in the hope of finding an equaliser, Hartlepool were able to punish them by scoring a third goal on the counter. Again, O’Connor misjudged a clearance, leaving space in behind the Bradford defence for substitute Reagan Ogle to exploit. Ogle played a low cross into the area, which Yann Songo’o inadvertently strook past Richard O’Donnell to restore Hartlepool’s two goal advantage with just six minutes injury time remaining.
Bradford fans had seen enough, with the majority of those in attendance heading for an early exit. Hartlepool were able to see the game out in a professional manner, earning themselves their first victory on the road this season. The final whistle was met with a loud chorus of boos from the remaining Bradford fans, who were unhappy with the below par performance on the night, and with many unhappy with results and performances in recent weeks also. Derek Adams’ side lacked the hunger and fight that Hartlepool displayed, and deservedly ran out on the wrong side of the score-line. It doesn’t get much easier for the Bantams, with the next five league games against opposition all in a playoff position or higher, starting with an away trip to Swindon on Saturday.