Bradford City 0 Sheffield United 2
Ten-man City were condemned to a second successive Yorkshire derby defeat at the hands of Sheffield United this Saturday evening.
Bantams skipper Stephen Darby was sent off for a second bookable offence seconds into the second half, allowing the visitors to pile on the pressure.
That territorial pressure eventually told as Bob Harris rifled United into the lead shortly after the hour.
City fought back, however, with Alan Sheehan forcing a good save out of Mark Howard with a powerfully strike free-kick and Jason Kennedy heading against the post from yards out.
With the Bantams in the ascendancy at this stage though, an unfortunate mistake by Andrew Davies around a minute after Kennedy's near-miss allowed substitute Marc McNulty to slot past Jordan Pickford and wrap up victory for the visitors.
Phil Parkinson made two changes to the side that were beaten at Barnsley last weekend, as Christopher Routis began the evening in the holding midfield role in place of Gary Liddle, who served a one match suspension after picking up his 5th booking of the season at Oakwell last weekend.
James Hanson also came back into the side following an absence through injury over the last month and a half. He took Billy Knott’s place with Billy Clarke dropping back into midfield.
City started the game on the front foot and there were chances within the first few minutes.
Aaron Mclean fired over on the half volley from a tight angle before Alan Sheehan saw a curling 25 yard free kick go inches wide of Mark Howard’s bottom left corner.
A lapse in concentration from Christopher Routis allowed him to be dispossessed and Jose Baxter played in Jamie Murphy who saw a shot on goal held alertly by Jordan Pickford. Murphy and Baxter linked up well again to carve open another opportunity, the former turned away from Stephen Darby before finding Baxter on the overlap who saw a firm low drive saved well again by Pickford.
There weren’t many openings from City in the first half and could’ve maybe capitalised on a moment of chaos in the area following Sheehan’s corner and after Mclean nor McArdle could divert the ball towards goal, United eventually came up with a panicked clearance to safety.
Jose Baxter carved open another chance for himself as he burst into a pocket of space behind City’s backline but his eventual shot towards goal was dealt with comfortably by Pickford.
The major turning point in the game was the dismissal of Darby. He was booked in the 40th minute for a forceful and mis-timed challenge on Stefan Scougall and he was given his marching orders in the opening minute of the second half for pulling Murphy to the ground after he’d turned away from him.
Fans may have deemed the decision for a second booking harsh but City were left to battle on with ten men.
Chris Basham headed over the bar shortly after from Baxter’s corner and the latter went down in the area shortly after in search of a penalty. Looking to surge towards the by-line, he was engaged by Mark Yeates and the referee Simon Hooper turned down the appeal but decided Baxter was not deserving of a booking for simulation.
Jamie Murphy was impressive on the evening and was arguably United’s most influential player and he saw a low shot go marginally wide of the bottom corner. The Scotsman wasn’t to score but he played a major role in the opening goal; cutting the ball back to Bob Harris, the former Blackpool left back curled an emphatic shot into the far corner to break the deadlock.
The Bantams were chasing the game now and had a mountain to climb considering the one man disadvantage as well but they worked tirelessly to try and find an equaliser. Yeates showed great effort and determination to drive past two or three players and into the 18 yard box before winning a corner. From Sheehan’s corner, Hanson headed wide of the target.
Sheehan himself came close to scoring an equaliser. Jason Kennedy was fouled on the brink of the 18 yard box and Sheehan stepped up to take the resulting free kick; his hammer drive went through the wall but Howard made a tremendous save to keep his side’s lead intact.
The best chance of the game for City fell to Kennedy; Yeates, who had had a decent performance and looked lively throughout produced a great cross and with Howard rooted to the spot, last weekend’s goal scorer saw a header come back off the post. This incident proved to be a turning point itself as down the other end United scored a second and decisive goal. Davies mis-controlled a ball with a bobble seemingly not on his side and substitute Mark McNulty raced clear and finished confidently past Pickford.
Yeates saw a curling shot glance off of the bar and Filipe Morais saw a low effort held well by Howard and the visitors held firm through the 5 minutes of injury team to confirm victory and three points.