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A GOAL WORTHY OF WINNING ANY GAME

14 December 2014

Bantams boss Phil Parkinson has hailed his match-winner Billy Clarke after the Irish striker celebrated his birthday in style by netting a stunning strike to snatch victory for City at Chesterfield.

Clarke, who turned 27 this Saturday, was on hand to fire in a fierce drive from outside the box into the top corner just before the hour mark to grab all three points for Parkinson's men, pushing them to within a point of the Play-Offs in the process.

Team-mates Jon Stead and Filipe Morais had golden opportunities to seal the game less than ten minutes but both were squandered, leaving Clarke's goal to go down as the deciding factor in the match.

Although the near-misses from Stead and Morais led to some nervy moments in the latter stages of the fixture, Parkinson felt Clarke's stunner deserved to celebrated as the game's stand-out moment.

Parkinson said: "The goal was a goal fitting to win any game of football - it was a real piece of quality from Billy Clarke.

"I pulled him over with ten minutes to go and told him just to make sure it is part of a win because we didn't want to be talking about last minute equalisers or dropped points after the game today (Saturday).

"As I say, that goal deserved to be the match-winner and it deserved to be highlighted on the television tonight.

"I am sure it will be as well because it was a goal befitting probably of a level above.

"We had some chances shortly afterwards to kill the game off which we didn't take and I felt that gave Chesterfield and their supporters a bit of a lift. It gave them belief that they might be able to get something from the match.

"The game should have been dead and buried in our favour but we had to show resiliency in the end even against ten men because Chesterfield are a good side.

"We showed the resiliency and toughness that was required, however, to get us the clean sheet and the win."

City's chances in the game were helped by a red card for Chesterfield's Sam Morsy barely minutes into the second period after the midfielder needlessly caught City's Andy Halliday with a stray arm.

While the incident left Halliday with swelling to his face, it also contributed to the Bantams loanee's substitution just past the hour mark.

Parkinson added: "We spoke to the lads before the game about keeping their discipline and our lads certainly kept their cool. Their lad, however, lost his discipline.

"For me, from what I saw as the incident happened live, it was an elbow that could have broken Andy's cheekbone. 

"Andy has some swelling to his face after the game - a nice shiner on his cheekbone - but it could have been a lot worse.

"I thought Andy had been having a good game up until that point as well. He was snapping into challenges and driving the team forward.

"We just felt we had to take him off though because we felt the crowd were targeting him a bit and we didn't want to give the referee any opportunity to even things up, especially after his yellow card.

"It was a shame for Andy - he was playing well - but Billy Knott came in and also played well. He was unlucky not to start - we just felt that Andy had given us something different in central midfield with his closing down when we last played away at Preston.

"Billy came on today and gave us that bit of quality on the ball though, so it is nice to have those options.

"I am sure that when (Chesterfield manager) Paul Cook sits down and analyses the game, he'll realise that his player has cost him today.

"It is never easy against ten men. We perhaps sat a bit too deep after missing those earlier chances but there was real character out there from the lads and a real desire to see the game out."

Along with Clarke's match-winner, Parkinson was also understandably pleased with City picking up an away-day clean sheet as well.

The Bantams' efforts to shut out Chesterfield were helped by a superb finger-tip save from Jordan Pickford to push over a stinging rising drive from Jay O'Shea midway into the second period.

Parkinson continued: "We are pleased with a clean sheet.

"We didn't make too big a thing of it against Dartford last weekend, but we were disappointed to concede a goal in that game.

"The back four have been working so hard recently on the training ground for that clean sheet - they were great today.

"The two centre backs were really, really good today - they won every header - against a strike-force that contained one of the top scorers in the country at the moment.

"Let's not forget Jordy (Jordan Pickford) as well. He has pulled off one save in particular that I am looking forward to seeing again because it looked a fantastic effort from where I was.

"It is nice for him as well to get the clean sheet because he deserves it."




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