Bradford City 1 (Taylor 90+2)
Northampton Town 2 (O'Toole 43, Long 62)
Saturday 13th January 2018 | Sky Bet League One | Northern Commercials Stadium
The Bantams began their league fixtures for the calendar year with a defeat at the hands of strugglers Northampton Town. City were dealt with a pre-match blow with the news of Charlie Wyke's absence through injury and at times it was tough for Shay McCartan and Paul Taylor against a very physical back-line of defence. John-Joe O'Toole headed his side in front just before the break from Matt Grimes' corner and just after the hour mark, Chris Long doubled his side's lead with a well-taken goal. A Paul Taylor goal from long distance halved the deficit late on, but it wasn't enough to stop the visitors from taking all three points.
The visitors began the game looking to impose themselves on the game and they had the first chance. Matt Grimes' corner was met on the volley by Ash Taylor who was forward from the back and his looping attempt went over the bar and landed on the roof of the net.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's side had the bit between their teeth in the opening exchanges of the game and Chris Long beat Tyrell Robinson to a loose ball to gain a chance of his own but he lashed a hurried attempt over the bar and into the roof of an empty TL Dallas Stand.
It took a quarter of an hour for City to really threaten the visitors and shortly after Alex Gilliead's Maradona-esque mazy run into the box was halted crucially by Regan Poole, Paul Taylor saw a low attempt from an angle inside the area hit the side netting.
City thought they had managed to get their noses ahead later in the first half and Taylor had a significant involvement in the move. The Liverpudlian forward forced Richard O'Donnell into an uncomfortable save with a shot from distance which was spilled into the path of Matthew Kilgallon to find the net from close range - unfortunately for him, he was stood in an offside position and the linesman was quick to spot this.
Sam Hoskins forced Lukas Raeder into an alert stop shortly afterwards, incidentlally after managing to turn away from Kilgallon before Romain Vincelot was denied by some excellent O'Donnell goalkeeping. Taylor's corner headed towards the City captain unmarked in the area at the far post but his volley was tipped over the bar acrobatically by the visiting goalkeeper.
With just a couple of minutes to go before the interval, Northampton took the lead. Matt Grimes delivered a corner into the box which wasn't defended and this gave an opportunity to John-Joe O'Toole who attacked it with menace and planted a header past Raeder from close range.
There was still time before the whistle for the Bantams to go close and it was another chance for Vincelot. Tyrell Robinson's cross from the left-hand side was kept alive by Shay McCartan and then the Frenchman saw an overhead kick just clear the bar by a yard or so - it would have been some goal.
City began the second half with a change of tactics as Nathaniel Knight-Percival took his place up front alongside McCartan with Taylor moving out to the left-hand side, physical presence in the final third was lacking a little and Stuart McCall made the decision to try and change that.
Chances weren't falling for the Bantams like they were in the last home fixture against Oxford but they weren't there in abundance for either team in truth. Sam Foley had the first chance of the second half for the Cobblers with a looping shot from the edge of the box which went over the bar.
Just after the hour, Northampton doubled their lead. City couldn't quite clear thier lines and the persistence of O'Toole presented a chance to Chris Long who cut inside onto his right-foot and wrong-footed Raeder with a shot from 12 yards out which found the bottom left-hand corner.
During the final quarter of the game, the Bantams piled the pressure on in search of a route back into the game. Nicky Law did well to get into the box and breach the back-line and his low centre found Timothee Dieng on the penalty spot but his goalbound shot was blocked vitally by Ash Taylor.
Dominic Poleon was brought on as a subsitute and his first chance came shortly afterwards. After the ball dropped to him inside the box, he was denied before Dieng and Knight-Percival couldn't quite force the ball home with the visitors clinging onto dear life in that situation.
Poleon caused Northampton some problems with his runs in behind and seconds later he had another chance to get on the scoresheet but after Knight-Percival's flick-on had bounced into his path, he saw a thunderous attempt crash against the bar with O'Donnell beaten.
Despite having a lot of work to do, City kept pushing for a way back into the game and the much sought after goal did come, two minutes into five additional minutes. Taylor recieved a short free-kick and planted a shot into the bottom corner from easily 25 yards out, catching O'Donnell out with the quick decision to let a shot fly.
Bodies poured forward in the final few minutes as City attempted to salvage a draw but the clock was the enemy and time ran out. A defeat for the Bantams on their own patch, certainly not the result desired to make it a happy Saturday afternoon.