The Bantams fell to a cruel defeat at the hands of Rochdale to put an end to the ten-match unbeaten run. Jordan Pickford was sent off after 10 minutes for bringing down Matt Done in the penalty area and after Ian Henderson had chipped his penalty against the bar, Peter Vincenti was there to hammer the loose ball into the back of the net. City were undoubtedly the better of the two teams over the 90 minutes despite the disadvantage and Jon Stead equalised just after the half hour. The second half was more of a battle as tired legs began to set in and Calvin Andrew scrambled the ball home with virtually the last kick off the game to snatch the points.
There was just one change to the side that played their part in a six goal thriller last weekend down at Millwall in the FA Cup and that was Jordan Pickford who came back into the side ahead of Ben Williams.
City started the game brightly; James Hanson fired a shot over the bar from distance after he’d latched onto Andy Halliday’s knock down and got the better of Ashley Eastham. Jon Stead had an effort of his own and it was a curler that went inches wide of the far corner after Billy Knott had done well and picked him out with a pass.
The first real moment of danger from the visitors resulted in a red card for Jordan Pickford and a penalty for the visitors. Matt Done latched onto a forward pass to get beyond Pickford, but he was brought down by the Sunderland loanee and the referee awarded a penalty but he also decided to send Pickford off, though Done was seemingly running away from goal with defenders there with a chance of quashing the opportunity. Andy Halliday was the outfield player sacrificed for substitute ‘keeper Ben Williams to take his place between the sticks.
Ian Henderson stepped up and took a ‘Panenka’ style penalty, usually seen executed by veteran Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo, but the Dale skipper failed with his attempt that came back off the crossbar. Fortunately for the visitors though, the ball came back into the path of Peter Vincenti who hammered the ball into the back of the net for the opening goal.
The Bantams responded well to this hammer blow and almost found the equaliser through both Gary Liddle and Billy Knott. After Rory McArdle had headed down Alan Sheehan’s corner into Liddle’s path inside the 18 yard box, he hit a shot towards goal which was blocked behind for a City corner by a Rochdale player inside the melee.
Billy Knott latched onto Jon Stead’s through ball before hitting a first time shot towards goal from a tight angle inside the area but Oliver Lancashire was there to clear at the near post. City did find the equaliser though in the 32nd minute and it was that man Jon Stead with his fifth goal of the season in a Bradford City shirt – a timely strike following his recent loan extension from Huddersfield Town until the end of the season.
Filipe Morais delivered a deep cross into the area that was headed back into the mix by James Hanson; Alan Sheehan knocked the ball nicely into the path of Stead who made no mistake from a couple of yards out for the leveller, a much deserved one too.
The Bantams seemed very much the team in the ascendancy and almost went ahead; a loose pass from a Dale player came into the path of Knott who let the ball run across his body before firing a first time shot inches wide of the target from 20 yards out.
Rochdale were millimetres away from going ahead early in the second half; Matt Done, who arrived as one of Keith Hill’s main goal scoring threats, fired a shot across the goalmouth and Ian Henderson was a shoe size off of tapping the ball in from close range.
Henderson went close again shortly after the vanishing spray had made its Valley Parade debut. A City attack broke down and the energetic Stephen Dawson burst away, sparking a counter attack before laying the ball into the path of Henderson who drilled a shot wide of the target.
The game was at the stage in the latter parts of the game, where either team could’ve scored a potentially decisive second goal – a fine balance. It was Stead though, who almost got his second of the game; the loose ball popped up to him in the area and from a tight angle, he hit a shot towards goal which was forced away from goal by Josh Lillis in a rather unorthodox fashion.
James Hanson missed a chance of his own seconds later; Stephen Darby delivered an excellent cross into the area and Hanson got above his marker to connect with a powerful header but he couldn’t quite direct his attempt towards goal as the ball went comfortably over Lillis’ bar.
Rochdale were having a lot of the ball in City’s half of the pitch later on in the game, which was understandable as the Bantams had spent the vast majority of the game a man light and were surely beginning to tire.
When the referee awarded a free kick to the visitors just inside City’s half for a seemingly absent foul in the dying embers of additional time, Rochdale were going to try their best to create one last goal scoring chance and that they did just that. A ball into the area caused chaos and substitute Calvin Andrew headed down and the ball made its way through a pack of players and into the far corner to spark celebration in the TL Dallas stand.
So, the unbeaten run was great while it lasted, but all good things come to an end and there is a great opportunity for a response on our home turf on Wednesday night as Millwall make the trip North to The Coral Windows Stadium for the FA Cup third round replay which will determine whether it will be Phil Parkinson and his lads or Ian Holloway and his lads that make the trip to Stamford Bridge for a glamour tie against Premier League table toppers Chelsea.