Fleetwood Town 0 Bradford City 2
The Bantams produced another excellent away victory to make it eight games unbeaten and move up to five in the League 1 table.
Fleetwood probably edged first half proceedings and Stephen Dobbie was particularly guilty of missing some gilt-edged chances in the opening 45 minutes before James Hanson headed City in front just before the break. City were brilliant in the second half and deservedly wrapped up the three points late in the second half through Filipe Morais.
City had a couple of early chances in the game through Jon Stead; first he headed Morais’ inviting cross over the bar before seeing a shot from just inside the area foiled by Town keeper Chris Maxwell after he’d brought down Andrew Davies’ long ball down brilliantly well.
After Mark Yeates had seen a rising 25 yard shot go over the bar when he’d turned away from the close attentions of former Bantams winger Gareth Evans, the hosts raised the tempo of their play somewhat and began to get the upper hand in proceedings.
Josh Morris saw a first time shot sliced wide of the target after Antoni Sarcevic’s free kick had deflected off the wall and into the path of the Blackburn Rovers loanee. Town left back Danny Andrew, who later hobbled off with an injury, produced a stunning angled drive from 25 yards that was inches away from nestling into the top corner - fortunately though for City, his attempt went over the bar.
Graham Alexander’s side were guilty of wasting some very good opportunities to get themselves into a lead in the first half and after Stephen Dobbie had dragged a shot wide of the mark after Jamie Proctor had looped a ball over the top for him to run onto, skipper Mark Roberts directed a shot wide of the mark after Andrew’s free kick had been glanced into his path by Proctor.
Dobbie failed to hit the target with a quick double chance; he side footed wide from 15 yards after Conor McLaughlin had pulled the ball back to him following some neat work down the right hand side with Sarcevic. The Scottish forward then jabbed a shot wide of the target after he’d latched onto Yeates’ lax pass to emerge through on goal.
City were struggling to find decent opportunities in the first half and after Andy Halliday and Andrew Davies had had attempts on goal, Morris had a decent opportunity for the hosts; Sarcevic had picked him out with an incisive through ball but he lashed a shot over the bar from an angle when he probably should have been forcing Jordan Pickford into a save.
Fleetwood’s Danny Andrew hobbled off with injury after feeling the effects of a challenge from Stephen Darby and his replacement Stephen Crainey was involved in the opening goal of the game. Morais did really well to win the ball back and find Yeates who ghosted past Crainey before lofting a cross to the far post for Hanson to head home on his return to the starting eleven - his sixth goal of the season.
The second half started at a high pace as both sides looked to get the all important next goal. Evans had an effort which went harmlessly wide of the target before Morais caused mayhem in Fleetwood’s 18 yard box; he saw a blocked shot come back to him and he looped a cross towards Hanson with Maxwell in no man’s land which was eventually cleared to safety.
Morais was having a very lively display, particularly in the second half and he had a decent attempt on goal himself; James Meredith’s cross evaded the head of Hanson before coming out to Morais just inside the area and he hit a rising half volley towards goal which went a yard or so over the bar.
Fleetwood’s best chance of the game came in the 63rd minute and it came through former Crawley Town forward Jamie Proctor; after receiving Evans’ pass, he cut inside before rifling a shot towards goal from 20 yards which crashed thunderously against the far post. A few minutes later, Town’s Chris Maxwell had to be at his best to keep out Jon Stead; Stephen Darby’s cross was headed down by Hanson and the Huddersfield loanee connected well with a shot towards goal from 15 yards that was beaten away by the stopper.
City were on top at this stage and came close to doubling the lead through Hanson who had had an impressive second half performance; Billy Knott’s floated free kick was headed back across the 6 yard box by Andrew Davies, unmarked at the far post before Hanson saw a header clip the outside of the post before going wide of the target.
Pressure told though, and the Bantams doubled their lead through Morais in the 78th minute; Stead managed to get into the area and his low centre was intelligently left by Knott, allowing Morais to rush on to it and coolly finish past Maxwell from 12 yards out for the seemingly decisive second goal. Sarcevic wasted a glorious chance to drag his side back into the contest a couple of minutes later; Evans’ deflected cross was punched away by Pickford but only as far as Sarcevic who fired a first time shot over the bar.
Jason Kennedy was inches away from adding to City’s lead in spectacular fashion; Maxwell produced a weak clearance under pressure from Stead and the City substitute hit a first time shot from 40-45 yards out that cannoned back off the crossbar, unfortunately though the linesman on the far side had already adjudged Stead to have fouled Maxwell in the process.
City held on comfortably to record a terrific away victory against a Fleetwood side with a decent home record. It’s now eight games unbeaten for Phil Parkinson’s men going into the final game of the calendar year against Notts County at the Coral Windows Stadium.