The Bantams fell to defeat this Saturday at the hands of one of the division’s form sides in Oldham Athletic.
The Latics’ top goal scorer Jonathan Forte fired his side into a 7th minute lead and Mike Jones doubled the hosts’ lead with a 25 yard drive that found the bottom corner. Andy Halliday scored his first goal for the club on the stroke of half time to pull City back into the contest but despite a vastly improved second half performance by Phil Parkinson’s men, they just couldn’t find an equaliser.
Phil Parkinson made three changes to the side that drew at Bristol City in mid-week. Andrew Davies hobbled off injured early in that match so Sheehan came in for him to start at left back with Christopher Routis shuffling across to join Rory McArdle at centre half. Stephen Darby returned from his one match suspension to start at right back with James Meredith dropping back down to the bench and finally James Hanson came in to start up front alongside Jon Stead with Billy Clarke dropping down to the bench.
After Jonathan Forte had gone close inside the first couple of minutes, he made no mistake the second time round in giving his side the lead. Jabo Ibehre knocked down Joseph Mills’ cross into Forte’s path and he turned on a sixpence to scoop the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Stead came close the bringing the equalising goal up the other end only a few minutes later as he latched onto Hanson’s flick on to arc a volley on the turn a yard or so over the bar from the edge of the area. Mark Yeates then tried an individual effort on goal after cutting inside from the left but his low, right footed shot was held well by Paul Rachubka.
Forte was then almost presented with an un-missable opportunity after good work by Danny Philliskirk down the left hand side. The latter’s cutback was heading towards Forte in the goalmouth but Jordan Pickford was alert enough to hold low down at the striker’s feet.
In the 24th minute the hosts doubled their lead; Jones tried a low shot from 25 yards which found the bottom corner, Pickford though seemed unsighted and he couldn’t get near the former Crawley man’s effort as the hosts raced into a deserved, comfortable lead.
The hosts looked a constant threat through Forte and Ibehre all throughout the first half as they looked for more goals. Stead went down in the area at the other end under a challenge from Timothee Dieng but any appeals that came in the ref’s direction were waved away.
After Hanson had seen a header held alertly by Rachubka towards the close of the half, City did get a goal back in the first minute added on at the end of the half. A cross into the area was knocked down by Hanson and loanee Halliday struck a half volley past Rachubka from 10 yards out to bring the Bantams back into the game as a contest.
Forte really should have doubled his side’s lead and his own tally for the game with a gilt-edged chance early in the second half; Mills ended a strong run down the left flank with a cross into the area but Forte managed to head the ball wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.
Oldham were pushing for a third goal early in the second half and Philliskirk went close with a firm 20 yard drive which was rising and went narrowly over the bar but from then on The Bantams competed well with the hosts in search of an equaliser.
Following another couple of City penalty appeals; firstly for a handball claim and secondly for Halliday going down in the area, Forte failed to score what looked an almost certain goal. Jones teased Darby down the left hand side and drilled a cross into the area but Forte’s close range prod at goal was somehow kept out by Pickford and then cleared to safety by the melee of claret & amber shirts inside the crowded penalty area.
Billy Knott was introduced as a second half substitute and from his short corner, Sheehan had all eyes on goal despite the tight angle and he saw a fierce drive clawed away by Rachubka.
Hanson was proving to be the outlet in the second half with flick ons that were causing the hosts problems and after Liddle latched onto one, he eventually saw a cross blocked when he perhaps should’ve opted to try his luck with a shot at goal. Clarke was the next to profit from a Hanson knock down but in a similar position to what Liddle was, he lobbed the ball over the head of Rachubka but behind for a goal kick.
Clarke had another opportunity to find the equaliser late on after City had broken away on the counter attack, unfortunately though Knott’s cut-back was met with a mis-hit shot that bobbled on harmlessly; a great opportunity to test Rachubka went begging.
McArdle was given his marching orders after receiving a second booking for bringing down Jabo Ibehre as the latter looked to turn away from him, meaning he will now miss next weekend’s home clash with Doncaster Rovers through suspension.
With the pressure piling on Oldham late on, even Pickford was allowed to go forward for a late couple of corners which nothing ultimately came of and the last attempt at an equaliser was Liddle’s low shot that went a couple of yards wide after Yeates had picked him out unmarked on the edge of the area.