Lee Angol scored Bradford’s equaliser against in-form Port Vale on his first league appearance since August. It was a familiar story for Derek Adams’ side, as they played well once more, but were punished for not being more clinical in front of goal. This latest draw was Bradford’s seventh of the League 2 campaign already.
After scoring ten goals in their previous two games, it was Port Vale who started the game on the front foot. Vale put the Bradford defence under some early pressure through a number of long throw ins, but the City back line were equal to it.
However, it was Bradford who had the first clear sight of goal. Elliot Watt intercepted a loose pass in the centre of the pitch, and played a beautiful ball between two of Vale’s defenders. Former Valiant Theo Robinson got onto the end of the pass, and fired a half-volley towards goal, which Lucas Covolan was able to beat away, before a defender eventually cleared.
Just after the mid-point of the first half, Vale came close to scoring in extraordinary fashion. Following another long throw, the ball fell to James Gibbons 35 yards out from goal. Gibbons drove forward, and ferociously strook the ball goalward, which Richard O’Donnell did well to parry behind for a corner.
Soon after, Oscar Threlkeld was perhaps fortunate to remain on the pitch. City’s right wing back had already received a booking for an earlier challenge, before badly mistiming another tackle on Vale’s left flank. Threlkeld escaped without even a final warning from the referee, and City were able to defend the subsequent free kick.
The home side kept pushing to try find an opener before half time, and were looking the most likely, but Bradford managed to see out the first half without conceding, despite Vale’s recent form in front of goal.
Before the second half could begin, Bradford made their first change of the afternoon, with Threlkeld making way for the returning Liam Ridehalgh. This substitution saw Matty Foulds move to right wing back, despite being a naturally left-sided player.
Following an even first half, Vale started the second half looking dominant. Bradford looked lethargic and were unable to keep hold of possession. Although, in the 54th minute, the Bantams were presented with a huge goalscoring opportunity.
In their first attack of the half, Bradford were able to get the ball to Alex Gilliead inside the area. Gilliead managed to make some space to cross the ball, picking out an unmarked Charles Vernam. Vernam attempted to strike the ball first time, but fluffed his lines, allowing Vale to clear.
Bradford had pushed men forward, and Vale were throwing men forward on the counter attack. David Amoo drove at the Bradford defence, and managed to dribble into the area without being challenged. Amoo appeared to have held onto the ball too long following a heavy touch, as Yann Songo’o had the chance to clear, but he hesitated. James Wilson managed to steal the ball from Songo’o, and hit a shot on goal which O’Donnell saved well. Unfortunately for Songo’o and City, the ball fell straight back to Wilson, who slotted home into an empty net.
In response, Derek Adams made a double substitution, bringing on Lee Angol and Callum Cooke with 30 minutes remaining. Bradford were able to have more of the ball now, with Cooke and Angol central in most of Bradford’s attacks. Despite having more of the ball since going behind, Bradford were failing to test Covolan in the Port Vale goal.
Although, in the 75th minute, out of nothing almost, Bradford got the equaliser they were looking for. Matty Foulds kept the ball in play on the right-hand side, and with few options, crossed the ball into the area. Foulds picked out Angol perfectly, who flicked the ball past Covolan and into the far corner of the net.
Bradford were well and truly on the front foot now, but were very nearly caught on the counter again. Bradford were dispossessed in midfield, and Vale skipper Tom Conlon brought the ball forward. Conlon played a pass to George Lloyd who was in on goal. Although, with three City defenders closing in, Lloyd dragged his effort wide of the target.
Going into injury time, Bradford were still pushing for a winner, but Vale were still looking dangerous also. Three minutes into inury time, David Worrall picked up the ball for the home side and fizzed the ball across the face of the Bradford goal. Somehow, no Vale attackers could get on the end of it.
From the very next attack, Bradford almost snatched a winner. The ball was played to Alex Gilliead inside the area, who hit a low shot across goal, which Covolan just got a hand to. Covolan did extremely well to parry the ball out for a corner, with Charles Vernam looking to pounce from just five yards out.
Soon after, the referee blew the full-time whistle. Both sides showed good quality going forward throughout the game, creating a great advert for League 2 football in front of the Sky cameras. It was yet another draw for the Bantams, but another good display against opposition from the top seven. Up next for City is an FA Cup replay against Exeter City, before a return to league action against Northampton next weekend.