Preston North End 1 Bradford City 2
The Bantams recorded an excellent three points on the road at Preston North End to inflict Simon Grayson’s men their first league defeat at home since December 2013.
City went ahead midway through the first half as Rory McArdle connected with Andy Halliday’s corner to head home the opener. After battling hard throughout, City were undone by Joe Garner’s late equaliser.
Less than a minute later, however, Mark Yeates curled home a terrific winner from just outside the area to turn the game decisively back in City's favour in dramatic fashion.
The game started brightly with both sides looking to make a good start to the match and after North End’s leading marksman Garner saw a shot blocked in the area he also saw a headed effort go over the bar after David Buchanan had delivered a cross into the area from the left hand side.
City took the lead in the 26th minute; Halliday, who had recently signed a loan extension from parent club Middlesbrough, delivered a corner and McArdle rose highest to head in the opener off the post past Jamie Jones.
A couple of minutes later, again from a corner, City almost doubled their lead. Halliday’s corner to the far post was headed back into the mix by Andrew Davies and the ball was scrambled away inside the goalmouth by Tom Clarke.
Before the interval, Paul Gallagher had a curling effort on goal from the edge of the area which was held by Jordan Pickford after youngster Alan Browne had carved an opening for him with some neat footwork and running.
Early in the second half Preston were somehow denied the equalising goal by some excellent defensive play. Callum Robinson’s cross was met by the head of Garner and with Pickford seemingly beaten, Stephen Darby intervened to clear off the line; the loose ball came out to Chris Humphrey who lashed a shot towards goal which was beaten away by Pickford.
Match winner Yeates tried his luck from distance after receiving James Meredith’s pass but his effort which was hit from all of 25 yards went a yard or so wide of the target as City still went in search of a second goal.
Pickford was having one of his most commanding displays so far during his time at the football club and he did well to react quick enough to gather the loose ball ahead of Neil Kilkenny after Joe Garner had headed Humphrey’s cross towards the former Leeds United and Bristol City midfielder.
Both teams were coming close to scoring and after Halliday and Jason Kennedy had gone close with shots when Filipe Morais’ cross had caused chaos in Preston’s penalty area, down the other end Aston Villa loanee Callum Robinson went close with a placed shot from 20 yards that went inches wide of the far post.
Morais was playing with confidence following on from an impressive display at Halifax last weekend and he went close to scoring his second in as many games; cutting inside from the right hand side onto his left footed he saw a firm, rising shot go narrowly wide of the target.
Garner who had proved throughout the game he was more than capable in the air despite his relatively average height and stature, met Scott Laird’s free kick with a powerful header that went wide of Pickford’s far post.
Kyel Reid was introduced as a late substitute by North End to a great reception from both his own supporters and the 1,300+ Bradford supporters behind the goal.
After Jon Stead was denied at a tight angle in a one on one situation by Jones, Preston really pushed for an equaliser and got one in the 85th minute through Garner. Robinson found space to deliver a low cross which was behind the City defenders and perfectly placed for Garner to tap home his 11th league goal of the season.
The Bantams went ahead once again within seconds of the restart; Morais played a cross field pass to Yeates who cut inside from the left onto his right foot before curling an excellently placed shot across Jones and into the bottom corner.
Joe Garner and Kevin Davies wasted decent chances to equalise during the five minutes of additional time and City held on for a truly brilliant victory to make it two wins in six days.