Bantams bring Blues down to Earth with a Bump
Bradford City brought Wycombe Wanderers back down to earth with a deserved victory at Adams Park. A brace from midfielder Nathan Doyle and another from winger Will Atkinson earned the Bantams all three points with a 3-0 victory in a re-arranged League Two fixture on Tuesday evening.
Before kick off there was a school of thought amongst many Chairboys (and girls) that this was just the right time to be playing Bradford City. They hadn't won a league game since Boxing Day and will have more than one eye on their impending League Cup final clash with Swansea City at Wembley in ten days time.
Well that myth was laid to rest inside the opening sixty seconds as an attack down the right was only cleared out for a throw and when it was returned into the box, Doyle was given far too much space to hit a right-footed half-volley into the bottom right hand corner of the net, giving home goalkeeper Jordan Archer no chance.
The Bantams had come out of the blocks in no uncertain style and they went on to control the opening 45 minutes and the reason they did so was simple - they possessed all the quality. Much has been made of Josh Scowen and Stuart Lewis's partnership in the centre of midfield but they were given the run around by City's Gary Jones.
The visitors enjoyed the greater possession, not least as they maintained it much better than their opponents, who gave the ball away at will. It left Lewis, Scowen et al chasing their tails whilst they ran around like headless chickens.
Scowen wasted a half chance in the fifth minute when he headed over after running into the box to meet Joel Grant's right-wing cross. Defender Andrew Davies headed Scowen's corner into the arms of his own goalkeeper but that was more trouble than the hosts' attackers managed in the first half.
Striker Dean Morgan curled a free-kick inches wide of the left-hand upright after 12 minutes, but despite some nice one-touch football around the City box, there was no cutting edge and it reduced the hosts to long-range attempts with Morgan guilty of failing to hit the target on more than one occasion.
Winfield mis-timed his jump to head another Scowen corner over the bar in the 36th minute and the visitors finished the half strongly with Lewis somehow escaping a yellow card with a hat-trick of fouls inside sixty seconds. Yet in first half injury-time Scowen predictably picked up his tenth booking of the season and will now serve a two-match ban.
Bradford City took a deserved lead into the break and were comfortable in the opening stages of the second half. The pattern of play changed little with Morgan again reduced to wild attempts from unlikely positions.
Wycombe created their best opening of the game in the 58th minute when Sam Wood raced clear of Davies after being played through by Scowen but with the ball being on his less favoured right foot he fired straight at Duke who pushed it away for a corner.
The hosts had a real let off in the 63rd minute when possession was again conceded cheaply and the Bantams launched a quick counter-attack which ended with winger Garry Thompson crashing a shot against the underside of the crossbar with Archer beaten all ends up.
Ainsworth tried to change things with Bruno Andrade thrown on for the ineffectual Matt McClure but just as the home side appeared to be cranking up the pressure, City snatched a decisive second goal to double their lead in the 81st minute.
The assistant referee stunned the Adams Park crowd as he flagged for a foul against Andrade after he had been pulled down by Davies and the visitors broke quickly with substitute James Hanson laying the ball off for Atkinson to hit a low right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner from twelve yards.
It was a real sucker punch and two minutes later it got worse. Hanson raced onto a through ball with Winfield chasing only for Archer to come racing off his line and a combination of the two brought the striker down and referee Scott Mathieson pointed to the spot.
Doyle stepped up to send Archer the wrong way as he tucked the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner and it wrapped up all three points for the Bantams. To their credit the home side continued to fight to the end but it wasn't going to be their night.
Morgan's low deflected shot finally brought the best out of Duke as he pulled off a fine one-handed save low to his left. Grant then saw his shot deflected inches past the post with Duke beaten. Despite the luck not being on their side, Wycombe were simply beaten by the better side.
It is the Blues first defeat in six games and they slip two places to 13th in the League Two table as a result. Given recent form it is disappointing to have been beaten in such a manner and it will be interesting to see if the team can respond with a victory as they have done after their previous two defeats when they travel to the Memorial Stadium to take on Bristol Rovers this weekend.
Ratings: Archer 6, Harriman 6, Dunne 5, Stewart 6, Winfield 5, Grant 6, Scowen 5, Lewis 5, Wood 6, Morgan 6, McClure 5
Man of the Match: Gary Jones (Bradford City)