Bradford City 1 v 0 Crawley Town (Sky Bet League One)
Former City player Dean Saunders brought his relegation threatened Crawley Town to the Coral Windows Stadium this evening, Saunders side also included former Bradford loanee Ryan Dickson and ex Burnley goalkeeper and City trialist Brian Jensen.
Bradford City started the game well and had a number of chances in the opening ten minutes. The first effort fell to James Hanson after only two minutes he shrugged off the attentions of Lewis Young, before moving into the area and firing in a low angled drive that Lewis Price clung onto by his near post.
Crawley then had an opportunity just two minutes later following a long ball forward from Anthony Wordsworth he played Izale McLeod into space behind City’s back-line with Rory McArdle for company. McLeod shot from just inside the box, but the bouncing drive is comfortable held by Jordan Pickford.
As the ball bounced around the Crawley area on six minutes, Andrew Halliday arrived but the Scotsman’s low strike flew wide of the near post.
Bradford City took the lead on nine minutes, following a Mark Yeates in-swinging cross from the right, which seemed to be completely misjudged by Lewis Price in the Crawley goal, this allowed Francois Zoko to steal in head into an empty net to give City a 1-0 lead.
A minute later, Mark Yeates crossed for Zoko but the Ivorian’s looping header is held by a back-tracking Lewis Price. The ball then went straight up field, but Izale McLeod’s angled shot from just inside the City area went straight at Jordan Pickford.
City went close to adding a second goal on seventeen minutes, as James Meredith’s teasing cross into the box drops fell at the feet of Christopher Routis, but the ball is whipped off the Frenchman’s toes and out for a corner by Sonny Bradley just as he looked to strike from close range.
Bradford continued to have all of the possession and as the half went on City had a couple more efforts at goal from Matthew Dolan and James Hanson but both attempts went over the Crawley crossbar.
Crawley finished the half on top with three efforts at the City goal in the space of four minutes, but there best chance to draw level before half-time fell to Lee Fowler, but his direct free-kick from just outside the box was pushed away by Jordan Pickford.
City had the first chance of the second half on fifty-three minutes, when Andrew Halliday picked the ball up outside the Crawley area before surging into the box and firing in a rising drive from an angle that whistles past Price’s near post.
The next real effort at goal came on seventy-two minutes when Izale McLeod saw his strike from the edge of the area deflect narrowly wide of Jordan Pickford’s far post. Ten minutes later Crawley should have brought the score level following a Tomlin teasing cross from deep, McLeod some how flicked his header wide of Pickford’s goal from close range.
Bradford then went close to extending their lead on eighty-five and eighty-six minutes, the first chance fell to Jon Stead but his stretching shot from eight yards went passed the far post following an Alan Sheehan cross.
The second chance came when Mark Yeates won the ball in midfield before driving into the box and curling a left-footed drive which is held low to his right by Price.
Crawley had the final chance of the game in injury time when Richard Wood headed over the bar following a deep hanging free-kick into the City box. This was a massive three points as the team look to welcome Reading in the FA Cup this weekend.
Speaking after the match manager Phil Parkinson said: “It is similar to when we beat Milton Keynes Dons on the Monday night before the Sunderland cup tie, that was a huge win for us and tonight is a big three points for us.
We can enjoy the build up now and look forward to what will be a cracking atmosphere here at the Coral Windows Stadium on Saturday. The F.A Cup Quarter Final at home in front of a full house with three league points in the bag, it doesn’t get much better.
After losing two games away from home it was important we got back to winning ways tonight, we were desperate to get the game on, it was touch and go at one point but thankfully the weather wasn’t as bad as forecast.
Massive credit must go to Mick Doyle (Head Groundsman) for getting the game on and to the referee Darren Drysdale for not making too big a deal about the conditions.
It was important for Francois Zoko to get that first goal for us as well, he has deserved that because he has been great in the way he has trained with us since he’s arrived and the way he is around the other lads.
He has been very unlucky previously with chances that have been kicked off the line or hit the post in other matches. He worked very hard tonight though and his performance deserved a goal.
The reaction from the lads when he came into the dressing room said it all. They obviously appreciate the goal but they also understand the work-rate and effort he has put in tonight and during the earlier parts of the season.”
Bradford City – Pickford, Darby, Meredith, McArdle, MacKenzie, Routis, Dolan, Yeates, Halliday, Zoko, Hanson (Subs) Williams, Sheehan, Clarke, Knott, Stead, Kennedy, Burke
Crawley Town – Price, Bradley, Edwards, McLeod, Young, Fowler, Tomlin, Ward, Pogba, Wordsworth, Wood (Subs) Jensen, Dickson, Smith, Morgan, Anderson, Bawling, O’Connor
Goals – (Bradford City) Zoko (9)
Attendance – 11,683