Bradford City 1 Port Vale 1
The Bantams were held to a draw by Robert Page’s Port Vale.
The visitors went ahead early on through a Chris Lines penalty after McArdle had been adjudged to have handled a shot towards goal from Louis Dodds inside the area. City equalised on the stroke of half time through a sublime Mark Yeates free kick and Billy Clarke and Gary Liddle in particular went close to scoring in the second half but the game ultimately finished in a draw, a result that halted a run of three straight home defeats.
Phil Parkinson made four changes to the side that were beaten in the Capital One Cup midweek at MK Dons; Jordan Pickford came back in to start in goal ahead of Ben Williams, Stephen Darby returned to right back after a rare night off at Milton Keynes, with Mason Bennett dropping back down to the bench. Aaron Mclean started ahead of Oliver McBurnie and finally Mark Yeates returned to the starting line-up ahead of Filipe Morais.
Vale began the game quite well and went close in the opening exchanges through Michael O’Connor and Louis Dodds, and Clarke went close with City’s first attempt as he saw a curling left footed shot go a yard or so wide of Chris Neal’s far post.
The visitors took the lead from the penalty spot inside the twelfth minute through former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Chris Neal. A Louis Dodds shot hit the arm of Rory McArdle inside the area, on second viewing it seemed like there was little McArdle could do to stop the ball hitting his arm and Lines sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way from 12 yards to give his side the lead.
Controversy struck once again about 7 minutes after the penalty incident as City appealed for a penalty of their own. Gary Liddle went down under a challenge from Carl Dickinson but the ref awarded a free kick right on the edge of the area when again, on second viewing the initial challenge may have been ever so slightly in the area and from the resulting free kick, Jason Kennedy scuffed a shot wide of the target after connecting with Billy Knott’s lay off.
After Billy Clarke was fouled 25 yards from goal, it was Christopher Routis who stepped up to take the free kick but his curling effort beat the wall but went a yard or so wide of the target. City though did level proceedings in the third minute of injury time at the end of the first half; after Richard Duffy had brought Clarke to the ground, Mark Yeates stepped up to curl an effort over the wall and past Neal from the best part of 30 yards.
Yeates went close again early in the second half; after linking up well with Clarke he fired a shot against the side netting from a tight angle via the fingertips of Chris Neal but the referee Sebastien Stockbridge instead awarded a goal kick much to the frustration of the Irishman.
After playing a part in Yeates’ earlier chance, Clarke saw an effort of his own go agonisingly wide of the far corner; Knott’s through ball picked out Yeates in the area and he squared the ball to Clarke who turned and hit a shot inches wide of the bottom corner.
City looked to be in the ascendancy in the game and it was Gary Liddle who was next to attempt to get on the score sheet. After picking up the ball, he moved forward into space before hitting a thunderous shot towards goal from 25 yards out that was pushed over the bar well by Chris Neal.
Aaron Mclean went close for the Bantams at one end before Chris Birchall, with his first touch of the ball after coming on as a substitute, headed against the near post after connecting with Mark Marshall’s cross into the box.
After being put on the ropes early in the second half, Vale eventually settled into the second half and were managing to get forward again and after Filipe Morais had dragged a shot wide from 25 yards, fellow substitute Ben Williamson went very close for the visitors. Kennedy surrendered possession and allowed Lines to break away and he squared the ball to Williamson who fired a shot narrowly wide via a diverting block by Rory McArdle.
City did look the more likely of the two sides to get the winning goal but ultimately neither side would do that but Yeates tried to repeat his free kick act late on with a 25 yard attempt but his effort, after Oliver McBurnie had been fouled, went a yard or so over the bar.