Goals from Jason Kennedy and James Hanson in the second half within six minutes of each other proved enough to record another impressive away victory, against Keith Hill’s Rochdale at Spotland.
After an evenly contested first half, City scored two decisive goals and dominated from there on. The win pushed the Bantams up to fourth in League One.
Phil Parkinson made three changes to the side that recorded a 2-1 Capital One Cup victory over Leeds United mid-week. Jordan Pickford reclaimed the starting berth in goal ahead of Ben Williams following his cup absence, Filipe Morais came in for Billy Clarke and Mason Bennett returned following his own cup absence in place of Aaron Mclean.
Rochdale made a bright start to the game and looked lively in the final third and went close through Matt Done; running at James Meredith he cut inside on his favoured left foot before seeing a shot go narrowly wide of the target via a slight deflection.
Despite the hosts’ bright opening to the game, Mason Bennett went close at the other end. After playing a neat one-two with Kennedy, once a Dale player of course, he rifled a powerful, angled drive a yard or so over Conrad Logan’s crossbar.
Dale tried to break the deadlock early on and after Joe Rafferty had dragged a shot wide of the target, the hosts thought they’d broken the deadlock when Done headed home Peter Vincenti’s cross only to see the flag up on the far side for an offside decision.
In a half where both sides were trading blows in an attempt to get a foothold in the game, City went close twice in the space of a couple of minutes as Hanson glanced Filipe Morais’ cross wide of the target and Kennedy volleyed at goal from Alan Sheehan’s corner, Logan stood firm and was equal to the effort.
Before the first period was over and done with, Vincenti curled an effort a yard or so over the bar after sponsor’s man of the match Bastien Hery had carved the opening for him and Kennedy had another volley but his effort this time failing to test Logan in the Dale goal.
Billy Clarke was brought on at half time for Filipe Morais and he was to have a real influence on the game in the second half as City got a real grip on the game, himself having a decent effort on goal early on. After riding a couple of challenges on his way infield from the right hand side he drilled a left footed shot towards goal that was pushed away and then held by Logan.
Mid-week goalscorer Billy Knott also saw a rising drive go over the bar after he’d escaped the attention of Jamie Allen and at the other end Rhys Bennett’s powerful header from Tom Kennedy’s cross was dealt with capably by Pickford.
The Bantams took the lead on the hour and the goal was one that was coming. Sheehan delivered a cross into the area which was knocked down by Hanson and Kennedy was on hand to smash the ball beyond Logan and into the back of the net from around 8 yards out, the muted celebration a respectful act for his former employers.
The large away following in the Willbutts Lane stand had become even noisier and the sound didn’t have chance to die down with Hanson doubling the lead a mere six minutes later. Alan Sheehan will get a fair share of assists this season with that more than capable left foot of his and it was from his corner that Hanson escaped his marker to power a header in at the far post.
From then on City dominated possession and kept the ball really well in the middle of the park, Liddle, Knott and co having another pleasing display. Rochdale did have their attempts to get back into the game later in the second half but they were attempts that were never really going to test Pickford.
Rory McArdle’s attempted clearance cannoned of a Rochdale player and sat up into the path of substitute George Donnelly but he made a bit of a mess of a 20 yard volleyed effort which sailed comfortably over the bar.
Another one of Dale’s substitutes Calvin Andrew, then also tried his luck from distance but after cutting in from the right flank he got too much elevation on his powerful drive which resultantly cleared the Pearl Street Terrace behind the goal.