Bradford City produced a well organised performance to seal a respectable away point at Walsall this Saturday afternoon.
The Bantams had their spells in the game and although they didn’t have many clear cut openings they did have chances to test Walsall keeper Richard O’Donnell that weren’t capitalised on but the hosts, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession proved to be wasteful with their opportunities, particularly in injury time at the end of the game.
The Bantams made two changes to the side that beat Coventry City last weekend; James Meredith came in at left back for Alan Sheehan who had suffered a family bereavement earlier in the week and new loan signing Mason Bennett came in for Billy Clarke who was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
City made a decent start to the game and Mark Yeates went close after some good work with Mason Bennett, his clip into Bennett was chested into his path but he lashed the volley comfortably wide of Richard O’Donnell’s goal.
The next chance also belonged to City; Gary Liddle did well to shift the ball infield to Billy Knott and he set sights from the best part of 30 yards, unfortunately his decent effort went a couple of yards wide of the post.
Walsall came more and more into the game as the half grew in age and should’ve probably got themselves on the scoresheet in the 18th minute. Malvind Benning’s corner was nodded down by Paul Downing and Ashley Grimes, on the turn, fired the ball over bar from roughly 8 yards out.
Despite the hosts now dominating possession, the combination of Yeates and Knott were proving useful in an attempt to break down the hosts back line of defence. Knott’s intelligent through ball picked out Yeates but the Irishman made a mess of his attempt on this occasion as his attempted lob shot went wide.
Knott was finding space outside the area to try and test O’Donnell from range but after receiving a Stephen Darby pass his effort wasn’t the greatest on this occasion as he scuffed a shot comfortably wide from 20 yards.
Billy Clifford, who was later to be announced as man of the match by the announcer, was having a bright start to the game and after seeing a shot go wide from himself, he then produced a nicely weighted through ball which was volleyed towards goal by Tom Bradshaw but Jordan Pickford held alertly.
City missed a great chance to go ahead leading up to half time; Yeates worked a short corner with Knott and his delivery into the area was glanced narrowly wide by Bennett. Yeates was then fouled on the edge of the area on the stroke of half time, and he stepped up to take the free kick himself but his effort, although it beat the wall, was held comfortably by O’Donnell.
Despite a first half which saw the hosts probably have the better of the overall play, the Bantams made a decent start to the second half as Bennett twice went close again. He almost latched onto Knott’s acute through ball and he then saw an overhead kick blocked well as he latched onto Yeates’ cross.
Bennett was looking very lively and looked to cause the hosts problems at the back and after counter attacking through Yeates who then fed the ball to Bennett, young full back Liam Kinsella had to step in and make a decent block to deny the Derby County loanee.
Clifford was the next to try his luck in the game when he tried a dipping first time shot from range that didn’t looked to be troubling Pickford initially but only just looped a few inches over with the stopper back pedalling.
Mark Yeates was having a decent game in midfield and looked to be getting himself involved in much of City’s attacking play and after seeing a tame shot held by O’Donnell he then turned Kinsella inside out before delivering a cross which was headed downwards by Hanson but couldn’t quite force O’Donnell into a save of any real kind.
Walsall were beginning to pour everybody but the two centre halves and the goalkeeper forward in search of a winner and left back Andy Taylor even tried his luck from distance, volleying wide of the mark from 20 yards out after bringing down Rory McArdle’s half clearance well on the chest.
Substitute and Tuesday night’s match winner Aaron Mclean gave himself half a sniff of goal when he managed to get beyond O’Donnell with the ball at his feet but his prod towards goal was weak and Downing mopped up to clear with the ball only a couple of yards from the goal line.
The hosts could and probably should have taken all three points in injury time but proved to be wasteful when the chances came their way. Newly appointed skipper Adam Chambers played a neat one-two with Grimes before rifling a shot towards the top corner, with the crowd on their feet, Pickford proved acrobatic enough to deny him with an excellent save.
Despite Pickford’s heroics on that occasion, Grimes certainly should’ve scored in the final minute of the three added on; Taylor’s cross was squirmed away by City’s back line but only into the path of the former Rochdale frontman who blazed wildly over the bar with the goal at his mercy.