The Bantams began the festive fixture schedule with a draw against Mark Robins’ Scunthorpe United.
The hosts got a point they deserved in the end with substitute Hakeeb Adelakun getting the leveller as Jordan Pickford was eventually beaten after he’d made numerous excellent saves to deny the plucky visitors. Rory McArdle curled in a fantastic opener in the first half but City couldn’t quite hang on for their sixth win in 7 matches but it’s still 7 unbeaten for Phil Parkinson’s men.
The game took a while to get going and it was somewhat sparked to life by the visitors; Paddy Madden who arrived as the obvious threat for The Iron, went on a long run down the middle of the pitch before eventually being halted by McArdle on the edge of the area. From the following corner, Miguel Llera headed the ball into the back of the net, but the goal was chalked off after the referee had adjudged the Spaniard to have committed a foul in the process.
In form frontman Jon Stead almost put City ahead with a fine solo effort but after receiving Mark Yeates’ pass and turning a couple of defenders inside out, his eventual effort was held well by Sam Slocombe.
Just after the half hour though, the goal did come and it was McArdle who got it and what a strike it was from the big man. Yeates’ corner came out as far as the centre half who curled a shot brilliantly into the top left corner beyond Slocombe.
Billy Knott almost doubled the advantage after Stead had won the ball back and laid the ball off to him but his low shot from 20 yards went a yard or so wide of the target. Scunthorpe were then somehow kept out just before half time by Pickford; firstly he forced the ball away from Madden in the 6 yard box to prevent him latching onto a low centre before the Sunderland loanee kept Richard Brindley’s shot out.
Scunthorpe started the second half on the front foot and it was Gary McSheffrey that had the next real goal scoring opportunity in the game; Luke Williams intelligently picked out the former Chesterfield winger unmarked on the edge of the area but he made a mess of his eventual shot that sailed well over the bar.
Williams himself then went close for the visitors but his powerful, angled shot from no more than 10 yards out was pushed away by Pickford before Neil Bishop saw a first time drive from outside the area blocked away by a crowd of Claret & Amber bodies in the area.
Pickford, who arguably had his best performance in a Bradford City shirt, pulled off another smart save to keep out McSheffrey’s goal bound free kick after James Meredith had fouled Brindley just outside the area. United’s Isaiah Osbourne was yellow carded for a ferocious challenge on Knott when perhaps he was a tad fortunate to not be given his marching orders.
Madden had been shackled well throughout the game, but he got in behind on one occasion to latch onto a long pass, but after making an angle for himself to shoot, his eventual shot was blocked brilliantly by the recovering McArdle.
Scunthorpe had another goal disallowed, this time for a quite obvious offside decision; Luke O’Neil did well to find a low cross to the far post which was tapped in by Madden but the flag went immediately up on the near side.
Stead probably should’ve done better with his next goal scoring opportunity; Knott picked him out in the area in space buy his eventual shot was too close to Slocombe who made a comfortable save.
Pickford made two terrific saves within the space of five minutes to keep out Madden; the first he kept out the Irishman’s header and the second was the best of the bunch. Again latching onto a ball down the channel, he lashed a half volley towards goal which was acrobatically tipped over the bar.
Stead hit the post with a low shot from the edge of the area after latching onto Filipe Morais’ through ball but he was adjudged to have been offside in the build up anyway by the linesman.
United found an equaliser, they deserved in the grand scheme of things; a cross made it’s way to substitute Hakeeb Adelakun who escaped the attentions of a couple of players before lashing the ball into the far corner.