Bradford City 1-0 Town
By David Mitchell
Fleetwood Town matched Bradford City for much of the game in a highly-charged atmosphere at the Coral Windows Stadium but, in the end, a goal just before the hour mark by James Hanson gave City a winning start at home.
Town hit the woodwork twice but their efforts were in vain and they remain goalless after three competitive games.
Micky Mellon made just one change from the Torquay game with Junior Brown keeping his place in midfield at the expense of Andy Mangan, Brown having replaced the former Wrexham striker three days ago. Former York City full back, James Meredith, started for City with Nahki Wells keeping his place up front having impressed coming off the bench on Saturday at Gillingham.
The pitch was wet after some torrential Yorkshire rain during the afternoon, a contrast to the 36 degree temperature experienced by the Bantams at Costa Gillingham! From the first moments it was obvious that Town would have to contend with a partisan crowd who rewarded every move and pass by their players with a mighty roar.
Much of Bradford’s early pressure came down the right with midfielder, Zavon Hines, seeing a lot of the ball. Town came forward with Jon Parkin, David Ball and Brown linking. Brown got a low cross in from the left but it failed to trouble the Bantams defence.
Kyel Reid ran past several Town players before launching a left foot shot which Shaun Beeley blocked. This heralded a few moments of anxiety for the Town defence. A Youl Mawéné header was cleared by fellow defender Dean Howell on the line and, two minutes later, Luke Oliver was disappointed not to get a free header on target at the back post. The central defender headed comfortably over.
Town came closest to scoring on 25 minutes. A clever ball from Parkin gave Ball a chance to run on and hit a right foot shot which came off the crossbar, Matt Duke well-beaten. Brown was determined to make his mark but his good work was spoilt by a booking received for a foul just before the break.
Bradford started the second half brightly, Hines hitting the bar and with pace continuing to come through from midfield. The dangerous Reid ran on to a beautifully weighted pass but was defeated as the ball held up in the wet patch! Town were under some pressure in front of the huge Carlsberg Stand. Andy Mangan replaced Ball in the 56th
minute, his first act to bring down Nathan Doyle.
Bradford’s continued to pressurise and finally produced a result. From a corner on the left, James Hanson rose at the back post to head home on 59 minutes. Garry Thompson replaced Hines after 65 minutes. Town fought back, Mangan hitting the post from a cross from the right by Johnson. The striker also latched on to a Beeley pass in the 73rd
minute but failed to see Brown advancing in space. Instead, he hit a weak shot straight at Duke. Will Atkinson was Bradford’s second substitution, coming on for Doyle. He watched as Reid advanced once again, his left foot shot blocked by Davies.
With nine minutes left, Micky Mellon made a double substitution. Steven Gillespie and debutant Alex Marrow took the places of midfielders McGuire and Brown. Two more City players departed, each receiving applause of Olympian proportions from the Bantams in the 9224 crowd. 182 Cod Army supporters made the journey across the Pennines.
Town pressed hard in the closing minutes, without extending Duke, and the biggest roar of the night greeted the referee’s final whistle as the supporters celebrated a first league win.
Town: Davies, Beeley, Howell, McNulty, Mawéné, Nicholson, McGuire (Marrow 81), Johnson, Brown (Gillespie 81), Parkin, Ball (Mangan 56)