City recorded another victory and a second in the Checkatrade Trophy to move into top spot in the group in this reformatted competition. Haris Vuckic impressed throughout and fired the hosts ahead just after the half hour mark and it was a lead which was doubled a few minutes later by Jordy Hiwula who netted his third goal of the season. Tom Walker pulled a goal back for the visitors midway through the second half to give them half a chance of coming away with something but a largely changed City side held on for another welcome result.
The Bantams went into the game with a strong starting line-up and defensive duo Rory McArdle and Nathan Clarke started the game to partner each other at centre half for their first appearance of the season. Colin Doyle was one of four players to start who did so at Chesterfield last weekend, but he was replaced in the opening few minutes by Rouven Sattelmaier who came on for some much needed game time.
Haris Vuckic came into the starting eleven and he was certainly one of the outstanding performers; he saw a couple of menacing early attempts from the edge of the area blocked importantly by Bury’s Manchester City loanee defender Kean Bryan.
After starting every game in the early stages of the season, academy graduate Daniel Devine hasn’t seen as much game time in recent matches; he came back into the starting eleven and performed impressively. After he was brought down just outside the box, Filipe Morais saw a free kick deflect off the wall and over the bar of Bury and former City stopper Ben Williams.
Bury’s best chance of the half came shortly afterwards. Andrew Tutte picked out the run of Tom Soares with a tremendous raking cross-field pass and he got into the box before cutting the ball back into the path of Bolton Wanderers loanee Tom Walker; unfortunately for David Flitcroft’s side, he could only fire the ball wide when in a really promising position.
Jordy Hiwula was picked out in the box with a pass by Vuckic and as Hiwula looked to bear down on goal, he was wiped out by Niall Maher; all looked set for the referee to point to the spot but he opted against awarding what looked a certain penalty to let the visitors off the hook and severely frustrate the home crowd and players alike.
Devine went close on the half hour mark with a low drive that went inches wide of the target after he’d turned away from Tom Walker superbly and played a neat-one two with Morais; a minute later City were ahead. Hiwula played Vuckic in with a nicely weighted pass and it was a chance which was dispatched emphatically by the Slovenian forward, firing a shot across goal and into the far corner from 12 yards out.
Shortly afterwards Vuckic returned the favour by setting up Hiwula for the second goal of the evening. The former brought the ball forward from City’s half of the pitch to leave the Bury defenders back-pedalling before slipping a reverse pass into the path of the latter who finished neatly under the body of Williams to put the hosts in firm control of the game.
Hallam Hope looked the most likely of goal threats for David Flitcroft’s side and he saw a looping shot go over the bar on the stoke of half time; early in the second period Hiwula came close to doubling his own personal tally for the evening but he could only hit the side netting after latching onto Morais’ centre.
Hope was offering Bury a glimmer of just that and he came close with a shot from 25 yards out that went inches wide of the post after he’d created a pocket of space for himself. Morais was growing into the game as it wore on and he saw a shot held onto by his former teammate Williams after he’d cut inside and let fly from 20 yards out.
Following a double sub on the hour which saw the impressive Timothee Dieng replaced, the momentum began to change a little bit after City had controlled the first two thirds of the game. Shortly afterwards, Bury scored to give themselves a real lifeline. Walker dropped his shoulder in the box to ghost past apprentice defender Tom Windle and he made no mistake with an emphatic shot across goal and into the far corner, leaving Sattelmaier with no chance.
Morais was intent on showing a trick or two having beaten Jacob Mellis with a ‘flip-flap’ as its known in the trade earlier in the half, and after getting the better of the Bury man once more, he cut inside from the left and saw a shot deflected behind for a corner kick via a block from Kelvin Etuhu which almost wrong footed Williams.
Ben Williams played a big role in City’s run to the play-offs last season and after he claimed alertly to prevent Morais’ dangerous free kick into the box from causing any damage when Rory McArdle threatened to get on the end of the delivery; from his resulting punt up-field, Hope latched onto the ball and rifled a half volley narrowly wide of the far post - the former Everton man reasonably unlucky not to get himself on the scoresheet.
Bury pushed in an attempt to force a draw and a resulting penalty shoot-out in the dying stages of the game; Walker threatened and substitute Scott Burgess saw a goal-bound snapshot blocked by Morais as City held on for another victory. It’s a second win in four days and one which elevates the Bantams to top of the Checkatrade Trophy Northern Section Group C ahead of a final group match at Morecambe next month.