Bradford City 1 Port Vale 0
City finally put their barren run behind them as a late Carl McHugh header sealed a dramatic victory and their first since late November, to move up to 11th in League One. The Bantams were the better side from start to finish and the victory was very much a deserved yet hard fought one.
Encouragingly was the way that City started the game, and after James Hanson was denied in the opening 60 seconds by Chris Neal, loan duo Kyle Bennett and Adam Reach then saw firm shots from the edge of the area blocked.
Hanson was having an impact early on, as was Reach and the two linked up as Hanson latched onto Reach’s pass before firing a low shot inches wide of the target from an acute angle.
Vale almost took the lead in bizarre fashion shortly after; Jon McLaughlin’s clearance fell straight to Chris Lines who tried an audacious 40 yard shot with McLaughlin still retreating but fortunately Rory McArdle was on hand the head the ball off the line.
The hosts were still pressing for an opening goal and after Carl McHugh headed Gary Jones’ corner towards the far post, Hanson was denied again before Reach saw a floated shot from the edge of the area alertly tipped over the bar by Neal.
Doug Loft was then presented with his side’s best chance of the half when after he’d managed to nip away from McHugh he should’ve done better with his shot that went straight at McLaughlin who routinely parried the ball to safety.
Gary Jones went close with a thunderous shot that went narrowly wide of the top corner with Neal very much a spectator and McHugh also came close with a header at the far post that went narrowly wide.
The Bantams were looking a major threat from set-pieces and it was Andrew Davies’ turn to go close on this occasion as he headed a yard or so over the bar after meeting Jones’ free kick which had been awarded after Anthony Griffith had brought Jones down.
Vale skipper Loft was then presented with another chance similar to his one in the first half but again he hit his firm drive straight at McLaughlin who made another routine save.
Most of the stadium thought that City had finally broken the deadlock but the post was to deny them on this occasion; Aaron Mclean saw a shot blocked into the path of Reach who saw his low first time strike come back off the post.
Reach had been impressive as had most of the side including Gary Jones who led by example once again but the winning goal was to come through the unlikely source of Carl McHugh. Jones corner into the area was met by the Irishman who produced a stunning header, similar to his effort against Villa last season, to snatch all three points in injury time and end City’s bleak run without victory!