Chesterfield 2 Bradford City 2
Chesterfield came from behind twice to deny The Bantams an impressive away victory in front of an equally impressive away following.
City lead through a first half Nahki Wells strike but after being largely second best in the second half the hosts levelled against the run of play through Tendayi Darikwa. Ricky Ravenhill's well struck effort from inside the area put City back ahead but an injury time equaliser from Sam Togwell earned his side a point.
The hosts started the brighter of the two sides and went close inside the first five minutes when Jay O'Shea found space outside the area to curl a shot a yard wide of the target.
Gary Jones then kept the score level with a goal line block after Drew Talbot had headed Conor Townsend's inviting corner towards goal and then the skipper completed the clearance.
Jones then floated over a freekick into the area that was misjudged by towering centre half Neal Trotman and almost fell kindly to James Hanson, thankfully for The Spireites Tommy Lee was alert enough to challenge the forward and qualm any danger that there might've been.
Nahki Wells was presented with the best chance that City had in the opening half an hour; Garry Thompson's pass was chested down by James Hanson and Wells wriggled his way into the area with the ball at his feet but when it looked like he might trouble Tommy Lee he proceeded to hit his angled drive well over the bar.
Chesterfield were denied the opening goal by a smart stop from Jon McLaughlin a couple of minutes later; an angled pass forward put the speedy Darikwa in behind the back line to race through on goal, McLaughlin thwarted him and Darby calmly headed the ball back to the 'keeper to bring an end to the attack.
Darikwa was proving a lively outlet for the hosts and after being fouled by James Meredith the resulting free kick taken by Townsend dipped over the wall but dropped a yard wide of the target to leave Jon McLaughlin's goal unscathed.
With roughly ten minutes to the interval City took the lead to send the 2,000+ away fans into eruption. James Meredith's low cross bounced up in front of Nahki Wells inside the area, the Bermudian took the ball on his chest before firing a neat volley past Tommy Lee and into the bottom corner.
City started the second half as they had finished the first - very much on the front foot. Nahki Wells gathered a loose ball within the opening couple of minutes before aiming his run at Neal Trotman; he found a yard on him before skewing a shot well wide of the target.
Wells was proving a difficult player to deal with and he capitalised on a defensive error after Trotman had mis judged an aerial ball to move towards goal. His resulting angled shot was on target and would've certainly forced Lee into action but Liam Cooper produced a crucial block to deny him.
Seconds later The Bantams' top scorer was presented with another opportunity when James Meredith's cross was chested into his path by James Hanson but he proceeded to scoop the ball over the bar from inside the area to let Chesterfield off the hook.
As a spectator you always felt that Bradford would have to capitalise on pressure by scoring a second goal and when they failed to go two goals ahead they were punished when Chesterfield equalised with twenty minutes remaining. From nothing, substitute Marc Richards found an angle to fizz in a low cross which was tapped home from merely a couple of yards out by Tendayi Darikwa.
City were denied what looked a certain penalty shout with just over ten minutes remaining. Gary Jones' low corner was helped on at the near post by Rory McArdle, the ball came out to Zavon Hines who saw his goal bound shot blocked by the raised arm of Liam Cooper, the appeal was turned down by referee Brendan Malone much to the infuriation of The Bantams and their travelling support.
Fortunately, from the resulting corner the visitors did take the lead. Jones' delivery was fisted half clear by Tommy Lee and Ricky Ravenhill pounced on the loose ball to drive the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the area to give Phil Parkinson's men a deserved lead with merely ten minutes remaining.
Chesterfield substitute Alex Henshall almost created a chance in injury time when he got past Will Atkinson and produced a fierce centre, Michael Nelson was alert enough though, to divert the ball over the bar ahead of the lurking Marc Richards inside the goalmouth. From the resulting corner however, City hearts were broken when the delivery was glanced on at the near post to leave the unmarked Sam Togwell with the easy task of tapping home from a few yards out and score a 93rd minute equaliser.
Incredibly though, The Bantams came close to snatching all three points with almost the last kick of the game. All Drew Talbot had to do was clear his lines under no pressure, but a horrendously sliced clearance was brought down by Nahki Wells inside the area. His first touch was heavy however, and that allowed Tommy Lee to pounce on the loose ball marginally ahead of him.
A draw almost felt like a defeat to City and their faithful after conceding an agonising late goal. The point though, is certainly a useful one which keeps The Bantams very much in pole position for a top seven finish ahead of rivals Exeter City and today's hosts Chesterfield. With only three games remaining and not much room left to manoeuvre Tuesday's home clash with Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United will certainly be a massive one!