Bradford City 0 v 2 Sheffield United (Sky Bet League One)
Sheffield United arrived at the Coral Windows Stadium for a second Yorkshire derby in the space of six days. City included two new loan signings Jon Stead from Huddersfield Town and Andrew Halliday from Middlesborough in their squad.
City had the first attempt at goal after just three minutes when an Alan Sheehan free-kick from twenty-five yards went just wide of Mark Howard’s post.
On ten minutes, Jamal Campbell-Ryce showed his pace and trickery to get the better of Alan Sheehan and Mark Yeates down the City left before picking out a team mate in the area, but his cross was deflected behind by Andrew Davies.
A minute later Campbell-Ryce again got into the City area again but crossing the ball into the path of Jamie Murphy, but the wingers half-volley from the edge of the area was well collected by Jordan Pickford.
On twelve minutes a quick Sheffield United free-kick released Jose Baxter into shooting space inside the box, but the attacker’s goal-bound effort was blocked by the diving frame of Andrew Davies.
The visitors then lost Jay McEveley on twenty-two minutes when the defender went up for a challenge with James Hanson and appeared to hurt his arm, the defender had to be replaced by Harrison McGahey.
Jamie Murphy took the ball off his chest from a Howard goal kick before turning and running at the Bradford defence, the winger then feed the ball to Jose Baxter in the area who sent a low angled drive that was well saved by Jordan Pickford.
On thirty-four minutes, Bradford turned up the pressure as Alan Sheehan’s corner caused panic in the Sheffield penalty area as City battled to keep the ball alive. Rory McArdle, Aaron McLean and Mark Yeates all tested Howard in the United goal, but eventually Hanson was penalised a foul on Basham which ended the attack.
On thirty-seven minutes with McArdle out of position, Jamie Murphy played Baxter into a pocket of space inside the box, but the attacker’s low drive across goal from an tight angle is well held by Jordan Pickford.
Three minutes later Stephen Darby was booked for a late sliding tackle on Stefan Scougall just inside Sheffield United’s half as both sides left the pitch with the half-time score 0-0.
The games controversial moment came 20 seconds into the second half as the Bantams skipper was given a second yellow card for pulling back Jamie Murphy as the winger looked to burst away down City’s right flank.
Just after the hour mark, Jamie Murphy cut inside from a wide position, onto his favoured right foot before firing a drive from just outside the box that whistles narrowly wide of Pickford’s goal, clipping the side-netting on its way past.
Bob Harris fires Sheffield United into the lead with a fine finish from outside the area, Jamie Murphy lays the ball off to Harris who curls a delightful strike into the far corner of the goal past Pickford’s reach from around 20 yards to give Sheffield a 1-0 lead.
The second controversial decision came just two minutes later when McArdle throw Scougall to the ground as the pair contest the ball in the box. Bradford emerged with the ball as the Sheffield bench and supporters appeal for a penalty.
On seventy-seven minutes, Mark Howard produced a great reaction save to tip an Alan Sheehan thunderbolt around the post, the Irishman let rip with a fierce drive from just outside the box following the award of a City free-kick, but the United shot-stopper got two strong hands on the ball to push the effort away for a corner.
Sheffield substitute Marc McNulty doubles United’s lead on eighty-three minutes after taking advantage of a loose touch from Andrew Davies, with the ball coming to the central defender, Davies’ control lets him down, allowing the ball to bobble over his foot and give McNulty a clear run on goal. The striker gladly snaps up the opportunity with both hands and coolly slotting the ball past Pickford from just inside the box to give United a 2-0 lead.
In the final minutes Jason Kennedy went close to pulling a goal back for City, when his free header from six yards hit the Sheffield post before going to safety, this was the final action of the match and meant City had lost their second Yorkshire derby in six days.
Speaking after the match manager Phil Parkinson said, “The first half was tough with limited goalscoring opportunities. We knew Sheffield United would go 4-5-1 and leave everyone behind the ball.
There were times when the ball went up to James Hanson and we could have been a bit sharper around him. We needed to be sharper anticipation from us in and around the box.
We worked hard and contained them after Stephen Darby had been dismissed and it took a quality finish from them to get one-nil up. We changed it around after the goal and put Mark Yeates just behind Jon Stead, which lead to some decent opportunities to score.
I didn’t feel they threatened us too much in the second half despite the man advantage. We couldn’t quite get that equaliser when we had the chance but I can’t fault the lads for their effort tonight.
The second goal is something that you cannot legislate for because the ball bounced over Andrew Davies’ foot. The lad McNulty has put it away well and it was game over. It just wasn’t to be for us tonight. We’ve had one tough decision go against us and one moment of misfortune for Andrew Davies that has sealed the game for them.
I thought James Hanson was excellent, he has only trained with us for a couple of days so we had to be wary of his match fitness. He’s been doing a bit of running for a couple of weeks now so it wasn’t a real gamble, but we knew seventy minutes would be enough for him.”
Bradford City – Pickford, Darby, Sheehan, McArdle, Davies, Routis, Kennedy, Clarke, McLean, Hanson, Yeates (Subs) Williams, Meredith, Dolan, Knott, Stead, Morais, Halliday
Sheffield United – Howard, Alcock, McCarthy, McEveley, Harris, Murphy, Doyle, Basham, Campbell-Ryce, Scougall, Baxter (Subs) Flynn, McNulty, Davies, McGahey, Porter, Reed, Turner
Goals – (Sheffield United) Harris (66), McNulty (83)
Attendance – 14,784