Fleetwood Town put in a superb performance with ten men to claim all three points, after beating Bradford City 2-1 on Saturday.
Goals from Ched Evans and Ash Hunter either side of half-time saw Joey Barton’s side win their first game at Highbury Stadium this season. Wes Burns saw red from a tackle on Adam Chicksen late in the first half, with the away side equalising moments before from the penalty spot; with Eion Doyle converting the kick.
Town’s head coach Barton named an unchanged side from the team that started against Charlton Athletic in the goalless draw at The Valley. James Wallace and Harrison Biggins were named on the bench after playing well against Leicester in midweek.
It was a bright start to the game for the home side, with Evans putting the ball in the back of the Bradford net after two minutes. With celebrations underway, Evans turned around to see the linesman’s flag up for a foul.
Town continued to dominate the middle of the park with both Jason Holt and Dean Marney pulling the strings. Holt managed to pick out Burns, who made a great run down the middle – like against Scunthorpe United – and made the away defenders jockey back onto their 18-yard box. The pass through to Madden was deflected out for a corner, a really fast start.
Evans made it 1-0 to the Cod Army moments later. Hunter drifted in from the left wing and delivered a peach of a cross to Evans who was there to nod the ball home from close range. Just what the home side deserved for their start to the match!
A penalty let The Bantams back into the game. Holt fouled George Miller on the edge of the box, and it was left for the striker to send Cairns the wrong way and give Bradford the equaliser.
The Cod Army didn’t let the goal affect them in their approach to the game and within 45 seconds from the restart, Evans had another chance from range. The Welshman was lurking at the far post and his header across the goal just went wide of the keeper’s post.
Five minutes before half-time; Burns saw straight red from referee Mr. Haines after a challenge on the opponents full-back Adam Chicksen. Town went into the break level, and with ten men.
Into the second-half we went and it was Barton’s side who started off the brightest once again. With a couple of attacks down the Bradford left, it was on the third move where Hunter scored on the half volley. The 22-year old met Evans’ cross and guided the ball into the far corner. Just the reaction and the start the head coach and the fans needed in the early stages.
As the fans all around the ground united, it spurred the ten men on the pitch to keep pushing and going at Bradford, and it nearly paid dividends when Lewie Coyle looked to have curled on in from 25-yards out. From our point of view, it looked goal bound.
You’d have thought it was the away side with ten men with the way the game was panning out with Hunter and Madden getting on the ball, Evans holding the ball up deep inside the Yorkshire side’s third. All that was missing was the third goal, which would have been the killer.
Barton’s side managed to keep the door closed at the other end in the last 45 minutes, which was enough to see off Bradford.
A fantastic victory, which was well deserved.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Holt, Eastham, Burns, Evans (Spurr), Madden (Long), Morgan ©, Hunter (Wallace), Marney, Husband.
Subs not used: P. Jones (GK), McAleny, Biggins, Sheron.
Bradford XI: O’Donnell (GK), Chicksen, McGowan (Gibson 62’), O’Connor, Doyle, Payne (Bruenker), Miller, Mellor, Akpan, Colville, Wright (Wood 62’).
Subs not used: Kenworthy (GK), Riley, Isherwood, O’Brien