Two goals in the second half in the space of a couple of minutes confirmed victory for the Bantams, and a well-deserved one at that.
Aaron Mclean latched onto Mark Yeates’ cross to turn home his third goal of the season and Gary Liddle confirmed the win with his first goal in claret & amber curling past Ben Garratt and into the top corner from just outside the 18 yard box.
Phil Parkinson made three changes to the side that were held to a draw by Port Vale last weekend; Andrew Davies made his return from injury to start ahead of Christopher Routis and Alan Sheehan returned from a three match suspension to start at left back ahead of James Meredith. The final change saw Filipe Morais come in for Billy Knott who dropped to the bench as the formation reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 formation rather than the diamond used previously.
City made all the early groundwork in the game but after Jason Kennedy had headed over the bar from Mark Yeates’ cross it was the visitors that had the first real effort on goal through their captain Matt Tootle. After he had picked up Marcus Haber’s flick on in acres of space, central to goal, he sent a shot whistling narrowly over Jordan Pickford’s cross bar.
The golden opportunity of the first half belonged to Aaron Mclean but it was one that he spurned and one that he really should have scored. After Billy Clarke saw a header deflect behind for a corner, from Alan Sheehan’s resulting corner the ball dropped to him invitingly and he fired a shot towards goal but straight at Anthony Grant who was there to make the block on the line.
There was another goal line scramble shortly after. Mark Yeates saw his corner headed down by Sheehan, Billy Clarke attempted a back heel flick towards goal, Crewe’s Manchester City loanee Greg Leigh cleared off the line and Rory McArdle then scooped the loose ball over the bar amongst a melee of players.
Jason Kennedy was the next to try and break the Crewe barrier with a tame shot on the stretch which Garratt held comfortably and he had another attempt before the half was out. Urged to shoot by the crowd he drilled a shot towards goal from 25 yards that the Crewe stopper got down well to hold.
The Bantams were slow out of the traps at the beginning of the second half despite a dominant first half and after Filipe Morais couldn’t quite connect with Yeates’ excellent cross at the far post it was Crewe that went close through former City loanee Chris Atkinson. Sheehan saw an attempted ball down the line charged down and the visitors poured forward from there and Atkinson got into the area but saw his shot from a tight angle saved by Pickford.
The game was growing ever more frustrating as City were trying to find that all important first goal but Crewe were still trying to score on the counter attack as they sensed an opportunity themselves to get the first goal. Febian Brandy was brought on at half time for Alan Tate, certainly an attacking sub from Steve Davis and it was Brandy that carved an opening for his side. Brandy fed the ball to youngster George Cooper who saw a firm shot from the edge of the area pushed away well by a determined Pickford.
City did take the lead inside the 72nd minute and it was a goal that was certainly coming. Mark Yeates found space down the left hand side to deliver a low cross which was turned in neatly by Aaron Mclean who had beaten the offside trap and left Ben Garratt with no chance.
With the home fans barely able to re-take their seats, the lead was doubled in emphatic style by Gary Liddle. Crewe only half cleared a ball into the area and Liddle rushed onto the loose ball to curl past Garratt and into the top corner from just outside the 18 yard box for his first goal of the season.
The visitors looked floored by this quick double blow and Filipe Morais tried to get in on the scoring act himself; cutting inside from the right flank, he attempted a low left footed shot from 25 yards which fizzed a yard or so wide of the target.
Crewe to be fair did try a couple more times to get on the score sheet and back into the game late on as attacking duo Oliver Turton and Billy Waters were introduced as substitutes. Anthony Grant tried a low shot from 20 yards which was dealt with well by Pickford before the loanee stopper produced a similar stop to keep Turton’s 25 yard effort at bay and confirm a clean sheet for himself and the rest of the team.