As the title suggests it’s a marathon not a sprint, granted Bradford City haven’t had the start I and most fans out there wanted, three games in and one point on the board isn’t an ideal way to kick off the new campaign, but to quote a well renowned phrase ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Yes it would be great to be writing this with three wins out of three and Jacko closing in on the August manager of the month award but how realistic was it that we would get off to a flying start? The mass influx of new signings meant time was needed to gel, find the right formation and players to gain a good understanding with each other.
There will be some fans out there that will have the side as good as relegated after only getting one point out of the opening 9, but it’s a long season and with 43 games left and 129 points to play for anything can happen. If after ten to fifteen games Bradford are still struggling at the wrong end of the table I might start to become concerned about how the season might pan out. For now though I believe they are moving in the right direction even if results suggest otherwise.
Lacklustre performances undermined the defeats against Aldershot and Accrington. Against the Shots’ City played and looked like a team that had only been put together over the course of the summer, whilst at Accrington they simply never turned up and lost the game to a scrappy second half goal. Sandwiched between the Aldershot and Accrington games was a well earned point at The Kassam Stadium against Oxford, the late leveller from Ross Hannah his first goal in professional football.
The story of the season so far – apart from the heroic effort at Elland Road in the Carling Cup – can be summed up in two parts. One is soft goals being conceded and the second being injuries to key players. On the opening day against Aldershot poor defensive play allowed ‘Shots midfielder Alex Rodman the freedom of the penalty area, before he squared the ball for Danny Hylton to tap in from about a yard out. Twenty minutes later another Rodman cross looked simple enough for goalkeeper Martin Hansen to come and claim. Come he did but claim he didn’t as he misjudged the cross badly and the unlucky Robbie Threlfall could do nothing as the ball hit him and ended up in the net. Most frustratingly Bradford were 2-0 down without Aldershot doing anything special to be in such a comfortable position.
Fast forward a week to Oxford, which could be a good point gained against a side fancied to be near the promotion spots come May. However once again Bradford conceded a soft goal, allowing Oxford midfielder Simon Heslop to break forward from half-way unchallenged. City’s midfield seemingly went missing and the defence backed off, giving Heslop the chance to stride forward and plant one in the bottom corner. A well-taken goal in fairness but he shouldn’t have been allowed the space afforded.
Lightning struck for a third time on Tuesday night away at Accrington, a very poor advert for League Two with neither side doing very much to win the game. Had the game finished 0-0 it would have been a fair result, but a weak tackle just outside the area by Guy Branston on Wes Fletcher allowed the Accrington striker clean through on goal, where he slid the ball under the on-rushing Hansen – who was a little slow off his line maybe – and the ball trickled into the net to give the hosts their first win of the season.
Simon Ramsden is struggling to overcome injuries which forced him to miss most of last season and all four games so far this campaign. ‘Rambo’ only featured in two pre-season games and looks unlikely to feature for the first team anytime soon. Steve Williams, who would normally be considered first choice defensive partner for skipper Guy Branston, is yet to make a league appearance after picking up a recurrence of the thigh injury against Leeds which also plagued him during pre-season.
Most important though is Dave Syers who has been ruled out for up to 3 months with knee ligament damage sustained in the defeat at Leeds. Without doubt a massive blow to lose last season’s top scorer and Player of the Year so early in the campaign, he will certainly be missed over the coming weeks.
During that game at Leeds United Bradford produced a superb display, at times bridging the gap between the Championship and League Two with ease. Goals from Jack Compton and a stunner from Michael Flynn twice put the underdogs in front and had me and the rest of the City fans dreaming that this is our time to get one over our illustrious rivals. Ultimately, it proved not to be as Peter Jackson’s men tired in the last 20 minutes, Leeds came back into the game and scored twice to run out 3-2 winners. Despite losing the game the players showed a real desire and commitment to the cause, and I came away from Elland Road one proud Bradford fan.
For me Bradford showed enough promise in the Leeds game to suggest they can have a successful season. If they can replicate their performance during that match in the league then we’ll be up challenging at the right end of the table come the end of the season. So as we head into back to back home games against Dagenham and Barnet it gives us the perfect opportunity to kick start the season and get that elusive first win on the board.
Keep the faith, and the good times will roll…..hopefully!
Written by Mark Scully, We Are Going Up’s Bradford City Blogger
Mark tweets at @scully87