It wasn’t third time lucky for the Bantams, as they were defeated 2-1 by a much-changed Exeter side, in the third match between the teams in this year’s FA Cup first round. Derek Adams’ side let another lead slip, as second half goals from Tim Dieng and George Ray ensured Exeter progressed to round two.
Prior to their second half collapse, Bradford were the better team, and looked the most likely to score early on. Paudie O’Connor and Liam Ridehalgh both had chances within the opening five minutes, but neither were able to find the back of the net.
However, Bradford soon made their early pressure count. Oscar Threlkeld played an inch-perfect ball over the Exeter defence, which Lee Angol was able to control expertly. Angol took his shot quickly, leaving Exeter ‘keeper Cameron Dawson with little time to react, giving the visitors an early lead.
Bradford kept the pressure on, and almost doubled their lead just four minutes later. The ball came to Oscar Threlkeld, who tried his luck from distance. An Exeter defender managed to get a slight touch on the ball, which deflected the ball narrowly wide.
Just before half time, Bradford created two good chances in five minutes. First, Elliot Watt found Callum Cooke in the area, who unleashed a shot goalward, but he saw his left-footed effort fly over the bar.
In the next attack, Watt had an effort himself. The ball fell to the midfielder on the edge of the area, which he controlled, before hitting a half-volley which appeared to be heading straight for the top corner of the net. Unfortunately for the Bantams, Dawson was able to get across his goal, and scramble the ball behind for a corner.
Exeter were lucky to still be in the game, and came out in the second half with much more attacking intent. Just three minutes after the restart, Richard O’Donnell was called into action. Josh Coley was played through on goal, but O’Donnell made himself big and was able to hold onto Coley’s effort from close range.
Despite this early warning sign, Bradford never got going at the start of the second 45, and we’re punished on 51 minutes. Bradford failed to clear a free kick properly, allowing Josh Key to play an enticing ball into the area. Former Bantam Tim Dieng latched onto the end of the cross, controlled the ball and fired it past O’Donnell to level the scores.
Exeter were well and truly on the front foot now, not allowing Bradford to have any sort of sustained possession. In spite of all their pressure, Bradford appeared to be holding on.
Although, with just ten minutes remaining, Exeter took the lead. After failing to clear from another set piece, George Ray was able to fire home from close range.
City didn’t have many attacking options on the bench, but even after making a host of changes late on, were unable to get back in the game.
Yet again, it was poor defending and a lack of clinical finishing that cost Derek Adams’ side. Having progressed, Exeter travel to Cambridge in the second round on Saturday, whilst the Bantams return to league action against Colchester next Wednesday.