Bradford City 2 Fleetwood Town 2
The Bantams let probable victory slip through their fingers as two late Fleetwood Town goals snatched a barely-deserved share of the spoils for the visitors.
Comfortable for long periods in the game, City took the lead early on through Jon Stead, who scored for the second league fixture in a row. Shortly after the break, Christopher Routis turned home James Hanson’s cross for his 2nd goal of the season. Jamie Proctor’s header gave Town a glimmer of hope with four of the ninety minutes remaining, and Nathan Pond struck in injury time to send his team home with a point.
The Bantams started the game on the front foot and Rory McArdle came close to scoring the opener with a glancing header that went just wide of the target from Mark Yeates’ free kick. Jon Stead showed real strikers’ instinct to opener the scoring shortly after. Billy Clarke got in behind and his low centre was pushed away by Chris Maxwell, but only into the path of Jon Stead who made no mistake from close range.
A couple of minutes later, Town almost found the equaliser through former Swansea City forward Stephen Dobbie. The ball looped into his path, but with the angle very much against him, he could only see his Marco van Basten style volley go wide of the target.
Routis has settled well into his newfound midfield role and he almost marked his start with a goal after just 17 minutes. Gary Liddle angled a cross into the area and the Frenchman looped a header towards goal that looked to be dropping in under the crossbar but Maxwell back-pedalled to tip the ball behind for a corner kick.
The Frenchman was having a bright start to the game and he combined with eventual man of the match Billy Clarke to force the next opening. The former blocked tackled into the path of the latter but after getting to the edge of the area, he could only fire a low shot inches wide of the target to let the Cod Army off the hook.
Proctor spurned a real opportunity of getting his side back on level terms just after the half hour mark. Stewart Murdoch did really to keep the ball in play and cut back into the path of Dobbie, however his shot was wildly sliced but flew into the path of Proctor who headed over the bar from around 6 yards out.
Today marked the return of Steven Schumacher to Valley Parade, the Liverpudlian of course made well over 100 appearances for the Bantams during a three year stint, and he had the next opportunity. Awarded a free kick, he took the responsibility, and his dipping drive had to be turned around the post by Ben Williams who was starting ahead of Jak Alnwick in goal for this one.
Shortly after the break, City doubled their lead. Hanson in the unorthodox position of left wing temporarily, delivered a superb cross to the far post where Christopher Routis was on hand to turn the ball past Chris Maxwell for his first home goal, much to the delight of the Kop in front of whom he had scored.
Hanson had a chance of his own to add further damage to Fleetwood just a few minutes later; the impressive Clarke drove into the area and forced Maxwell into a smart low save, the ball bounced up to Hanson but his header lacked power and the Town stopper held; a real let off for Graham Alexander’s men.
Last season’s leading scorer and the man whose free kick guided the visitors into League One, Antoni Sarcevic, was introduced as a substitute and played his part in a chance for loanee wing-back Adam Chicksen. Sarcevic fed the ball wide to Chicksen and he lashed a shot from an angle just outside the 18 yard box which went narrowly over Williams’ crossbar.
With the game seemingly heading for a home win, the Cod Army pulled a goal back to start the nerves jangling again. 19 year old winger Tyler Forbes, got the better of Andy Halliday down the right flank and crossed for Proctor to nod home at the far post.
Buoyed by Proctor's goal, Fleetwood piled on the pressure as Parkinson’s men looked to hold out for a vital three points. The Fleetwood equaliser came in agonising fashion in the second minutes of additional time and it was Mr. Fleetwood himself, Nathan Pond who scored it. City couldn’t clear the ball to safety and up from the back, Pond was in the right place at the right time to smash in an equaliser.
There was still time for one more chance down the other end of the field. A long ball forward was flicked on by Hanson, Clarke couldn’t quite latch onto the loose ball but Francois Zoko could, the Ivorian, however, dragged a shot wide of the target from 10 yards out to leave City thinking of what should have been.