Walsall 0 Bradford City 2
A stunning 30 yard strike from Kyel Reid set The Bantams on their way to an excellent away victory to propel them into fourth in the League One table. After a solid first half that ended with City a goal to the good, momentum carried through into the second half and James Hanson’s well taken goal on the 47th minute doubled the deficit. Walsall presses relentlessly at times for an equaliser but Phil Parkinson’s men proved sturdy enough to grind out the victory.
City started the game well limiting the hosts early on and Kyel Reid almost scored a brilliant goal in the 11th minute; receiving Mark Yeates’ short corner he stepped inside his marker before firing a low shot marginally wide of Richard O’Donnell’s near post from just outside the area.
Sam Mantom was looking a lively player in the middle of the park after he’d already seen a long range shot held by Jon McLaughlin, he tried his luck once more a couple of minutes later. After he’d played a neat one-two with Craig Westcarr he fired an excellent 25 yard shot towards goal that had to be tipped wide.
Garry Thompson came close to breaking the deadlock just past the half hour mark; City won the ball back in midfield through Gary Jones and he laid the ball off to Thompson who rifled a first time shot a yard or so wide of the post from 20 yards out.
James Hanson was working tremendously hard up front against a decent backline of Walsall defence and after he latched onto Rory McArdle’s long ball he did well to get to the by-line and pull the back to Yeates who saw his close range effort blocked by home captain Andy Butler.
With half time approaching and the scores level, Kyel Reid opened the scoring with an outstanding goal; picking the ball up on halfway he went on a trademark mazy run before setting his sights from 30 yards out and unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner to send the 1,300+ City fans into rapturous celebration.
Two minutes into the second half and City had doubled their lead; McArdle’s lofty ball forward was helped on by Yeates and an angle opened up for Hanson to produce a tidy finish that beat the helpless O’Donnell.
Dean Smith’s Walsall were now beginning to raise the urgency in the play and after Westcarr had ghosted past McArdle he produced a teasing cross which narrowly evaded the outstretched leg of Troy Hewitt at the far post to let City off the hook somewhat.
The hosts then missed two glorious chances in quick succession. First a long ball forward was knocked back across goal by Westcarr and Paul Downing could only fire a volley marginally wide from 12 yards out, and then Ashley Hemmings’ firmly struck volley went wide after James Baxendale picked him out with a delightful cross.
Substitute Hemmings was looking to have a quick impact on the game following his introduction and he tried his luck once again with a dipping long range shot that dropped only a yard or so over the bar after the hosts had retained possession well.
Full back Andy Taylor then got in on the ‘let’s try and beat McLaughlin’ act when after playing a neat one-two with Westcarr he stung the palms of The Bantams’ stopper with a powerful angled drive from 20 yards out.
Despite being put under large spells of pressure, particularly in the last 30 minutes City held on to record an excellent away victory against a decent side in Walsall to move them up one place to fourth League One.