Bradford City 2 Leeds United 1
The Bantams secured their first victory over neighbours Leeds United in 28 years with a superb late comeback display this Wednesday evening.
United were reduced to ten men half an hour into the game when Luke Murphy was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence and City bossed proceedings from then on.
Leeds defended capably against the attacking barrage coming at them and took the lead in the 82 minute against the run of play when Matt Smith powered a header past Ben Williams from David Norris’ cross.
.The battle was not won though as Billy Knott blasted City level before James Hanson’s diving header secured a place in the third round of the Capital One Cup
Phil Parkinson made four changes to the side that were beaten last the weekend by Peterborough United.
Ben Williams came in for Jordan Pickford in goal, Pickford not allowed to play in the Capital One Cup for Bradford by parent club Sunderland, and the same applied for Mason Bennett, who was denied permission by parent club Derby County and he made way for Aaron Mclean. Andrew Davies suffered a broken arm at the weekend and James Meredith came in a left back whilst Alan Sheehan stepped in at centre half. Filipe Morais started in the weekend’s loss but Billy Clarke, returning from injury, took his place in the starting eleven.
Leeds started the game brightly attacking towards the Kop and it became clear early doors that Matt Smith was a clear aerial threat, heading narrowly wide in the first minute from Scott Wootton’s cross before powering a header over the bar from Luke Murphy’s corner.
Luke Murphy picked up the first of his bookings for an awfully timed challenge on Gary Liddle, the former Crewe Alexandra midfielder perhaps deemed a tad fortunate not to see red for that challenge alone.
To be fair to Dave Hockaday’s men, they created more openings early on than the Bantams did and went very close through left back Stephen Warnock; Murphy’s pass found Billy Sharp in the area and he teed up Warnock for an angled drive that went inches wide of the top corner.
In the seventeenth minute, probably the best chance of the first half passed City by. Alan Sheehan, a one-time Leeds United player, delivered an excellent left footed free kick and with the goal at his mercy, Aaron Mclean diverted the ball narrowly wide of the target with Stuart Taylor rooted.
Just after the half hour mark, Luke Murphy was given his marching orders by referee Graham Scott for a second bookable offence which was a late challenge on James Meredith, no real argument to be made, two silly challenges reducing Leeds to ten men.
Jason Kennedy came close to breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half time; Clarke’s ball forward was helped on by Hanson and Kennedy hit a firm half volley from a tight angle that hit the side netting.
Gary Liddle had an effort himself before the half was out but his well hit, long range strike was held fairly comfortably by Taylor in the Leeds goal.
Early in the second half, City came close to breaking the deadlock, once again through Jason Kennedy. James Meredith’s low cross into the area was missed by Clarke before Kennedy made contact with the ball, but he turned his effort narrowly wide of the target with Taylor seemingly a bystander.
Aaron Mclean’s incisive ball forward into the area shortly after was collected by Clarke in the area but his effort from close range was saved well by Taylor.
Billy Clarke was looking lively on his return from injury and was trying to play his part in City’s attempt to get through Leeds’ back line and was denied by a goalmouth clearance by Jason Pearce. Latching onto Sheehan’s deflected cross, he forced the ball towards goal but the Leeds skipper was on hand to avert the danger.
Billy Knott then tried his luck from range but his deflected attempt from outside the area bobbled through a few bodies inside the 18 yard box and was held alertly by Taylor who was having a decent outing for the visitors, the usual first choice keeper Marco Silvestri taking a seat on the bench for this one.
With only eight minutes of the ninety remaining, against the run of play, Leeds took the lead. Looking to attack on the counter with City retreating and rushing to get back into position, David Norris angled a cross towards the far post where Matt Smith powered a header beyond Williams to send the visiting fans in the Midland Road stand into rapturous celebration.
The Bantams though, responded two minutes later with an equalising goal. Alan Sheehan’s corner was cleared as far as Knott who brought the ball down and smashed a shot into the top corner leaving Taylor with no chance and sparking the home crowd into life once more.
With the visitors a man light and the game back level, City went for the jugular. Two minutes after the equaliser, James Hanson scored what proved to be the winning goal for the home side. Gary Liddle, who had produced a hard working performance in the middle of the park, floated a great cross towards Hanson and he powered a stooping header through the legs of Taylor and into the back of the net.
Nine minutes of injury time were displayed at the end of the ninety, this number perhaps a result of a good four minutes stoppage after Hanson’s equaliser when an amount of Leeds fans appeared to spill over the advertising hoardings and onto the pitch.
Leeds went agonisingly close to an equaliser in additional time. From Wootton’s free kick, Smith knocked the ball down into space and substitute Dominic Poleon saw an attempt squirm inches wide of the target.
With virtually the last touch of the game, Smith went close to scoring his second of the evening; Michael Tonge’s pinpoint free kick to the far post saw Smith emerge victorious in an aerial challenge once again but his header went over the bar.