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Report: Town lose first game of 2018 after Bradford stage comeback

1 January 2018

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It was a case of a game of two halves as Fleetwood Town started 2018 with a 2-1 defeat at home to Bradford City.

Jack Sowerby opened the scoring for Town midway through the first half, but it was goals from Alex Gilliead and Shane McCartan that sealed the win for the Bantams in the second period.

Town pushed hard in the latter stages of the second half, but the West Yorkshire side hung on for all three points.

Uwe Rosler made two changes to the side that won away at Bury on Saturday, with Sowerby and Jordy Hiwula coming in for Markus Schwabl and Wes Burns. Joe Maguire started on the bench with Harrison Biggins missing out of the match day squad.

It was a very bright start from Town as they created the first chance of the match. Kyle Dempsey broke through the Bradford midfielder having being played through by Hiwula, but Sattelmaier saved his shot at goal at his near post inside 40 seconds.

The roles were reversed two minutes later when Dempsey laid the ball of to Hiwula. The striker looked to bend the ball around into the far corner, but his wide ended up marginally wide of the side netting.

Rosler’s men continued to press Stuart McCall’s side and created some openings, unfortunately for Town, the shots towards goal didn’t cause the away side too many problems.

With ten minutes played, Bradford were yet to register a chance, or shot at Chris Neal. The Cod Army looked the more likely to open the scoring and again Dempsey tried his luck from range, with Sattelmaier making a good save once again.

The deadlock was broken with twenty on the clock with Sowerby burying his chance at goal. Hiwula picked up the ball from deep and ran at the Bradford back line, he waited for the right moment and with an inch perfect pass, he set up Sowerby to side foot the ball home. What a start it was for Town.

McCall’s side had their first shot on target soon after the first goal, Ashley Eastham lost the ball in a dangerous area to Nicky Law, and with the playmaker holding the ball up well, he found Gilliead. He opened up his body for a shot, however Neal was well positioned to smoother the ball up.

The game entered a period just before half time where both teams were knocking the ball around well. Both were looking for that one lapse in concentration to create sight at goal, but both defences stood firm.

Town saw out the half with an attack in added on time. It would have been well deserved if they had scored, however the home side couldn’t double their lead before Mr Haines blew his whistle.

The Cod Army started off the second half slowly and it was McCall’s men who has the first attempt at goal. Wyke – whose red card from Saturday was rescinded before kick-off - did well under pressure on the 18-yard box to lay off the ball to McCartan, but his low driven shot at Neal was too close to the experienced goalkeeper.

Bradford levelled the scoring ten minutes into the second half. It was a quick break down the middle of the park for the away side, and McCartan did well to pick out Gilliead on the edge of the box. And with a drop of the shoulder and a quick shot at goal, he sold Coyle and Neal and the ball ended up in the near corner.

Paul Taylor went agonisingly close soon after the equaliser. The number ten was allowed too much space to turn and get his thunderbolt of a strike off at goal; it dipped and swerved in the air with Neal seeing it over his crossbar.

The away side then took the lead in the 63rd minute thanks to McCartan. Town failed to clear the corner inside their box, and with it falling kindly for the striker; he hit the ball on the half volley, and on the turn into a crowed penalty area and into the bottom corner.

Conor McAleny and Burns were introduced with twenty minutes to go, hoping to get the home side back into the game, but were limited to chances and space, as Bradford got tight to the two playmakers and frustrated the eleven in red, and the fans.

McAleny did have the next big chance for Fleetwood. After Burns ran past two players and saw his shot deflected, it found its way to the 25-year-old. McAleny went for a first time shot at goal, but with being off-balance, he saw it sail high into the Memorial Stand.

It wasn’t to be for Town as they start the New Year off with a defeat after two fantastic results on the road. Preparations now begin for the visit of Premier League side Leicester City as they travel here in the Emirates FA Cup third round on Saturday. 

Town XI: Neal (GK), Coyle, Bell, Eastham, Hiwula (Burns 69’), Dempsey, Bolger ©, Glendon, Hunter (McAleny 69’), Sowerby, Cole

Subs not used: Cairns (GK), Pond, Maguire, Rodgers, Schwabl

Bradford XI: Sattelmaier (GK), Vincelot ©, Law, Dieng, Wyke, Taylor, McCartan, Gilliead, Hendrie, Knight-Percival, McMahon

Subs not used: Raeder (GK), Thompson, Field, Hanson, Devine, Gibson, Patrick.

Referee: Andy Haines

Attendance: 3,089 (1,085 away)

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