The Bantams recorded another home victory to move to the fringes of the play-off positions. Gary Liddle glanced home his first goal of the season on the stroke of half time to open the scoring before Billy Clarke scored the second of the game from an acute angle, his first goal since his return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury.
James Hanson had City’s first chance of the afternoon, he couldn’t ultimately score despite having a fair share of chances; his performance on the day probably deserved the reward of getting on the score sheet. Tony McMahon’s shot was parried away by Ben Garratt before Billy Clarke centred and Hanson turned the ball inches wide of the post.
The next chance belonged to Hanson but it was superbly engineered by the impressive Billy Knott. After charging down Ben Nugent’s attempted clearance, he sprinted to get onto the loose ball before seeing a perfectly executed far post cross headed inches over the bar by the head of City’s number nine.
It had took City about twenty minutes to get going, but the chance were coming thick and fast after that. The next one belonged to Kyel Reid, his deflected shot pushed around the post by Garratt after Crewe had failed to deal with the threat of Nathan Clarke’s long throw into the 18 yard box.
Hanson was to go close once again before the interval; Rory McArdle had stayed forward following a set piece and he headed the ball on into the path of Hanson who saw a left footed volley deflect marginally wide of the target. It was a close one though, with the majority of the Kop stand at the other end thinking the ball and found the back of the net.
Knott forced Garratt into a smart save with a 20 yard pile driver after the visitors had failed to fully clear their lines following McMahon’s teasing corner delivery into the area and Billy Clarke was about a yard away from giving City the lead on the stroke of half time. Greg Leigh, in at left back in place of James Meredith - away on international duty - picked out the run of Reid on the overlap and his low centre found Clarke in the area, but the Irish forward could only shoot wide of the target on the stretch.
McMahon’s set-pieces have become the main source of City’s goals of late and he notched his seventh assist of the season after seeing his free kick into the area glanced into the corner by the head of Liddle for his first goal of the season - his last goal for the club came in this exact fixture last season, the game also finished 2-0 that afternoon as well.
The Bantams began the second half in positive fashion, looking to go for the jugular of a Crewe side who looked well and truly on the back foot. The second goal came just before the hour and it was Billy Clarke who made a welcome return to the scoresheet, to mark his second goal of the season, his first was of course back in August’s 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town.
Clarke picked up the ball and got to the byline, he cut inside onto his favoured left foot and rather than picking out a player in the crowded penalty area, he hammered the ball past Garratt from an almost impossible angle. A great finish that put City firmly in control at this stage.
There were two big chances at either end within the space of sixty seconds shortly after the lead had been doubled. McMahon curled a 25 yard free kick narrowly wide of the target after Reid had been fouled and the visitors were denied by the bar up the other end; Bradden Inman crashing an effort against the woodwork after Callum Saunders had squared the ball to him inside the 18 yard box.
Ryan Colclough had looked the danger man for the visitors and after City and failed to clear their lines in the latter stages of the game, Stephen Darby had to lead by example to make a painful looking block, denying the Crewe youngster the chance of getting on the scoresheet and and bringing his side back into the game.
Ultimately it was to be victory again for City, and the fifth in the last seven league outings for Phil Parkinson’s men to spark a real run of form. It’s FA Cup time again on Wednesday evening though, as the Bantams take on Aldershot Town in the 1st Round replay.