Crawley Town 1 Bradford City 3
The Bantams produced a dazzling second half performance to record an excellent three points away at Crawley Town who had previously held a 100% win record for the season.
James Hanson blasted City ahead from close range early in the second half but Joe Walsh glanced the hosts level from Ryan Dickson’s corner soon after. A stunning strike by Billy Knott restored the advantage and Mason Bennett sealed the victory late on with a tidy finish after latching onto Hanson’s flick on.
Phil Parkinson made three changes to the side that were held to a goalless draw at Walsall last weekend. Alan Sheehan came in to replace James Meredith at left back, Filipe Morais came in for Mark Yeates and Aaron Mclean was handed his first start of the season ahead of the injured Billy Clarke and loanee Mason Bennett.
City started the game brightly and went close inside the first couple of minutes; from Andrew Davies’ powerful clearing header, Aaron Mclean mis-kicked before Filipe Morais fired a shot a yard or so over the bar from the edge of the area.
Crawley almost took the lead themselves shortly after in rather bizarre fashion; Jimmy Smith’s in winging cross was glanced towards his own goal by Gary Liddle and Jordan Pickford had to get down alertly to make a smart stop and spare any blushes.
Aaron Mclean had the goal at his mercy at the other end seconds later, latching onto a long ball he dispossessed Brian Jensen and approached goal but the referee Carl Berry penalised Mclean for an unfair challenge on the former Burnley stopper.
There was a fair shout for a penalty in the 22nd minute from the City players as it appeared the ball was handled in the area. Morais produced a hanging cross to the far side of the area and Billy Knott saw a goal bound volley blocked behind for a corner, not by an arm according to the ref on that occasion.
The Bantams were undone by a hopeful long ball forward five minutes later. Jensen’s long punt up the field was flicked on by Izale McLeod and Gavin Tomlin latched onto the loose ball only to lash an angled drive inches over the bar with only Pickford to beat.
Despite having the better of the possession in the first half, City weren’t crafting too many openings in the way of chances but after Liddle’s long range shot had gone narrowly over, Mclean latched onto Hanson’s flick on and got a shot away but Dean Leacock did well to get in a vital block and deny him.
Jordan Pickford was having another solid performance between the sticks for City and on the stroke of half time he made an excellent sliding tackle to deny Gwion Edwards after he’d worked his way through the back line and into the area.
Early in the second half City took the lead through James Hanson who scored his 3rd of the season. Morais worked the ball wide to Stephen Darby who produced a low cross into the area, Mason Bennett, who had replaced Mclean at half time couldn’t quite latch onto the ball but Hanson was there to compose himself and slam the ball into the roof of the net.
The game was still a close affair at this stage and five minutes later the hosts were level once again. Former Bantams loanee Ryan Dickson’s in swinging corner was glanced across goal at the near post and into the far corner by stand in skipper Joe Walsh for the leveller.
Billy Knott was having another outstanding display in midfield and went close with a shot from the edge of the area after Bennett and Morais had worked the ball to him. Knott though was to make no mistake with his next shot at goal; after playing a neat one-two with Morais he cannoned an unstoppable shot in off the post from 20 yard, leaving Jensen rooted to the spot.
City were really stepping their play up a gear and Crawley were struggling to cope against some really fluid attacking play. The bar was rattled as the visitors looked for a 3rd; Alan Sheehan’s low cross shot was diverted against the bar by the side foot of Jason Kennedy – another who enjoyed an impressive display in midfield.
The 3rd goal did come though, six minutes later. James Hanson guided a flick on behind Crawley’s back line and Bennett got goal side of Walsh before clipping a delightfully confident finish over the out-rushing Jensen.
Crawley had nothing more to offer going forward and City looked the more likely to go on and add more goals to their tally and went in search again late on through Mark Yeates and Hanson. Yeates cut inside from the right after receiving Hanson’s pass before firing a shot comfortably over the bar from 20 yards out.
Hanson then looked to add another goal to his name with only a few minutes left on the clock but after latching onto Bennett’s low cross, he saw a goal bound shot turned behind excellently by the hosts’ man of the match Lanre Oyebanjo.