The FA Cup fairytale journey is not over yet ladies and gentlemen! Phil Parkinson’s men produced another fine giant killing to knock out Premier League outfit Sunderland. Billy Clarke got City off to the best possible start, finding the net after just three minutes, although many media outlets registered the goal as an own goal from John O’Shea. As expected, The Black Cats had their spells in the game but The Bantams were the better side for large spells; Jon Stead wrapped up the win with his fifth FA Cup goal late on, against one of his former clubs.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, City took the lead after just three minutes. Filipe Morais’ free kick into the area made it’s way to the far side of the area and to Billy Clarke who composed himself before lashing the ball past Vito Mannone. The goal took a deflection off former Manchester United defender before hitting the back of the net.
It was a frenetic start to the game in front of a modern stadium record crowd of 24,021 as far as Valley Parade and Bradford City are concerned. Rory McArdle, who has had an impressive season to date, made a tackle of equal worth to a goal to deny Adam Johnson what looked a certain goal. Steven Fletcher’s tidy ball through to the former Manchester City winger saw him beat the offside trap with only Ben Williams to beat but from nowhere, McArdle made a tremendous intervention.
At this stage, Sunderland were getting themselves into the game and it was Sebastian Larsson who was the next to try his luck. Johnson kept the ball under control excellently before teeing up the Swede for a shot from 18 yards which took a deflection before going a yard or so over the crossbar.
Billy Clarke, who was awarded the sponsors’ man of the match award, looked for City’s second goal and after going on a mazy run beating Billy Jones and O’Shea before hitting a stinging drive towards goal which Mannone pushed away.
Jermain Defoe was absent for the fixture due to, what later turned out to be an injury and this gave Danny Graham the opportunity to start this one and he should’ve done better with his first chance of the game. Johnson delivered a cross into the area and although Graham connected with a header, it was straight at Williams who held firmly.
Scorer in the 3rd round in a 1-0 victory against our West Yorkshire neighbours Leeds United, Patrick van Aanholt had an effort on goal which almost caused problems for City. Ricardo Alvarez teed the Dutchman up for a shot which took a deflection before being squirmed away by Williams before Billy Knott hooked the ball clear.
You got the impression it was going to be City’s day; the players were well up for it, the crowd were well up for it and the visitors were being extremely wasteful with the chances that came their way. Following a Bradford corner, Sunderland counter attacked with pace and Johnson, rather than clip the ball towards the far post, he opted to hit a shot from a tight angle which fizzed comfortably over Williams’ bar.
City’s second goal came just after the hour mark and they were good value for it too. Adam Johnson found himself in an area, usually taken up by the right back and rather than hook the ball down the line or out of play under pressure from James Meredith, he cleared the ball only to Hanson. The big frontman found strike partner Jon Stead who found the back of the net despite Mannone getting his hand to the ball.
Sunderland look to be running out of ideas as they hoped to break down a resilient Bradford defence and it was City who looked hungry for more goals. A victim of Meredith pressure once again, Johnson lost out to the Australian and he squared for Stead who fired a yard or so over on the turn inside the 18 yard box.
Connor Wickham was introduced as a halftime substitution, adding a real aerial threat to Sunderland’s front line and after he’d nodded Sebastian Larsson’s corner towards goal, Ben Williams, who had an outstanding game made a smart stop.
Gus Poyet’s men simply couldn’t get past a back 5 who barely put a foot wrong all afternoon and two goals proved to be enough as Bradford City reached the FA Cup Quarter Final for the first time since 1976 - 39 years! It was a tremendous effort by everyone involved, the draw for the next round is tomorrow evening. Dare we dream?!