Four-tress Valley Parade

james hanson

1957 was the year that previously held the record for Bradford’s best home league start to a season but the class of 2012/2013 has gone one better by notching up four straight home wins, and on the early season performances, won’t be stopping at four. Fleetwood, Wimbledon, Barnet and Morecambe have all left Valley Parade empty handed as City are looking to build a successful promotion push with a solid home record.

If someone had offered me fifth place by mid to late September then I’d of snapped their hands off, given the last few season’s struggles at the wrong end of the table it makes a pleasant change to see Bradford in the top half of the table never mind in the play-off places!

In bizarre fashion the 2012/2013 season opened up with the Capital One Cup first round tie at League One side Notts County. The fixture saw The Bantams knock out there higher league opponents thanks to James Hanson’s wonderful curling strike in extra time, the big man has started the season in sparkling form adding four league goals to his strike at Meadow Lane. The league season opened up with a tricky fixture at Gillingham, the game was played out in temperatures more a kin to that of the Costa Del Sol never mind Costa Del Gillingham. The Bantams succumbed to a 3-1 opening day defeat, however having been burnt to a crisp in the uncovered away stand, I came away from the ground in a position mood – despite losing the game, there was enough positives to suggest that it could be a good season for Bradford once the new team gelled together.

Back on home turf for the first home league game and Bradford got up and running with the points tally, a 1-0 home win over league new boys Fleetwood Town was deserved. Possibly catching The Cod Army at a good time before their newly assembled team had started to click and show why the bookies have them down as one of the promotion favourites. It was that man Hanson who scored the only goal under the lights at Valley Parade. One half of the new midfield partnership of ex Rochdale and Barnsley duo Gary Jones and Nathan Doyle went off to a standing ovation, the latter making his second home debut after previously spending time on the loan at the club was applauded off for his superb performance.

The Bantams could have racked up a cricket score in the next match. Wimbledon fresh from a mid week mauling against Burton Albion couldn’t do anything to stop a irresistible first half performance where City went in at half time 5-1 up. Goals from Nahki Wells, an own goal, a long range Andrew Davies free kick before Rory McArdle scored his first for the club after arriving from SPL side Aberdeen. Top scorer Hanson notched his third of the season on the stroke of half time.

Back in the Capital One Cup, another higher league opposition crashed out at the hands of Bradford. However, unlike at Notts County where City deserved to go through and dominated the majority of the game. The 2-1 win at Watford could be classed as ‘a smash and grab’ two goals in the last five minutes from Kyel Reid and Gary Thompson fired The Bantams into the third round where the mouthwatering prospect of Man Utd, Man City and Arsenal could lie in wait so out of the hat pops…..Burton Albion, talk about an anti-climax!

What followed the win at Vicarage Road was to date the only major blip on what has been a very bright start to the season for Bradford. Of all the managers to crash to a 4-0 defeat to it had to be Steve Evans. Evans who had a well documented clash with City at Valley Parade last season whilst in charge at Crawley. Now in charge of Rotherham he once again got the better of Bradford, as City got royally played off the park – looking second best to their south Yorkshire opponents from the get go.

After the mauling at Rotherham, Phil Parkinson’s men have bounced back strongly. The Bantams got a point away at Accrington thanks to Alan Connell’s first for the club – the former Swindon striker raced onto James Hanson’s flick on before lobbing the ball home from 30 yards out sending the packed away end into raptures. The point against Stanley set up back to back home games against Barnet and Morecambe. The Barnet game saw a glut of three goals in ten second half minutes from Hanson, Connell and Davies sending a very poor Barnet team away empty handed. Barnet, in my opinion, looked one of the poorest sides I’ve ever seen and it will take a minor miracle for Mark Robson’s side to stay in the football league this season.

On Tuesday, as City looked for their best home start since 1957. A comprehensive 3-1 win and performance to match over Morecambe sent Bradford up to fifth in the league – chasing the automatic places down. Another goal from Hanson, before Reid and Jones settled it for City.

Off the field all is seemingly well at Valley Parade, no rumblings of discontent amongst the supporters or within the club as everyone seems to be pulling in the right direction. Back in the summer I was very impressed with the calibre of player that Phil Parkinson has managed to attract to the club and the early performances suggest that this is going to be a good season for The Bantams.

Away from City, but in a story connected to the club, saw Rotherham manager Steve Evans punished for his part in last season’s brawl against his former club Crawley. Evans was charged for inappropriate behavior, and whilst not knowing exactly what went on, the fact that the Scot was given a six game stadium ban would suggest his actions were extremely severe – I hope he enjoyed watching his side on soccer special against Rochdale the other night…poor Steve!

If Parky can get the away form a little better, and scrape a few wins on the road coupled with the fact that the home form to date has been perfect, there’s no reason why come May Bradford won’t be firmly in the promotion picture.

Written by Mark Scully, We Are Going Up’s Bradford City Blogger

Mark tweets at @scully87

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