Bristol City 2 Bradford City 2
The Bantams came from behind twice at Ashton Gate to earn a superb point at table toppers Bristol City.
Aden Flint headed his side into an early lead after only 8 minutes but Billy Clarke glanced an equaliser past Frank Fielding in the 20th minute. The hosts thought they had grabbed a late winner through Flint once again but there was still time for Christopher Routis to volley an equaliser in off the crossbar for his first goal for the club and his first in English football.
Phil Parkinson made 4 changes to the side that began the 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United last weekend. James Meredith replaced Alan Sheehan at left back, Gary Liddle returned from suspension to replace the unavailable Stephen Darby, with Christopher Routis slotting in at right back and Liddle returning to holding midfield. Jon Stead got the nod ahead of James Hanson and Andy Halliday started ahead of Aaron Mclean with Billy Clarke starting in a more advanced centre forward position.
Luke Freeman came close for the hosts within the opening exchanges as he fired over the bar from a tight angle after latching onto Kieran Agard’s through pass. The Robins did though, take the lead inside 8 minutes. After James Meredith had fouled Mark Little, Freeman delivered a free kick which was met by the head of the unmarked Flint who powered a header past Jordan Pickford from close range.
In a game which started in end-to-end fashion, Halliday, who only arrived on loan from Middlesbrough late last week, flashed an effort right across goal from close range after he’d connected with Yeates’ far post cross.
The hosts were obviously providing City with a threat going forward but the Bantams were looking just as intent to score goals in the early stages of the game, and Rory McArdle saw a goal bound header held well by Fielding after he’d met Yeates’ cross following a well worked short set piece with Gary Liddle.
The Bantams did equalise through Clarke in the 20th minute, and it was a goal that was very much deserved at that stage.
Yeates’ free kick from wide was met by a glancing header from Clarke and the Irishman’s effort took a slight deflection on the way in leaving Fielding with little chance of keeping it out.
Another Bradford goal almost came seconds after the restart. Yeates, who had had a very strong performance, turned neatly away from Luke Ayling before delivering a lofted drive that smacked plumb against the bar before the rebound dropped into the path of the lurking Clarke.
With the goal at his mercy, the striker could only hit the post, however, with first-time volley just a few yards out.
Derrick Williams, one of the hosts’ centre halves, was the next to come up with an attempt on goal. He burst forward from the back and tried a lob from distance that was held alertly on his goal line by Pickford.
Minutes later, former Rotherham United man Kieran Agard really should’ve given his side the lead. A lapse in communication between Andrew Davies, who later limped off with an injury, and Christopher Routis, allowed Freeman to get a run down the left hand side and deliver a low cross towards the far post which was somehow turned wide by Agard.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot and veteran skipper Wade Elliott almost gave his side the lead with a dipping 25 yard strike that went inches over the bar with Pickford a spectator. The former Burnley midfielder then played provider but his far post cross was turned over the bar from a tight angle by Joe Bryan.
Marlon Pack then came close with a low strike from the edge of the area that went narrowly wide after he’d played a neat one-two pass with former Bantams loanee Aaron Wilbraham.
City looked bright on the counter attack and after Halliday had forced Fielding into a smart save, seconds later Yeates’ curled a low shot inches wide after the former England youth international goalkeeper had only pushed Christopher Routis’ cross into his path.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was introduced as a substitute midway through the second half and he almost had an immediate impact, producing an excellent left footed shot from distance which went inches over Pickford’s bar.
Luke Freeman was influential in Bristol’s attacking play all evening long and he was trying to get on the score sheet himself with shots from distance. His first of two shots in quick succession went comfortably over the bar but his next was not so comfortable for the visitors; his shot across goal going inches wide of the far post.
The Robins did re-take the lead inside the 82nd minute, and again the goal scorer was Flint. From Freeman’s corner, Pickford seemed to drop the ball under a unfair challenge from Williams, allowing Flint to tap home from close range.
Against all the odds though , City equalised only 3 minutes later, and it was probably a deserved equaliser at that.
Filipe Morais delivered a corner to the far post which was nodded down by fellow substitute James Hanson and Routis showed great control and technique to steer a half volley in from 12 yards off of the underside of the crossbar.
The Bantams had to brave through four minutes of injury time to earn the point and Flint once again connected with a Freeman set-piece but his header this time went comfortably over the bar preventing the centre half from sealing a hat-trick and confirming a deserved share of the spoils for both sides.