Bradford City 0 Port Vale 0
The Bantams registered their first point of the 2016/17 season with an opening day draw against Port Vale. Stuart McCall’s side dominated early proceedings and could been ahead by the interval, with Billy Clarke and Nathaniel Knight-Percival going particularly close inside the opening 45 minutes. The second half was more of an even affair, although edged slightly by City but that elusive goal just didn’t come.
Billy Clarke had the first chance of the game inside the first four minutes, after latching onto to fellow Irishman Colin Doyle’s long punt upfield, he saw Vale stopper Jak Alnwick slightly off his line and went for a lob which went a yard or so over the crossbar.
Clarke had another attempt, a superb lob from just inside the area, tipped onto the brilliantly by former City loanee stopper Jack Alnwick. It was a very good effort and an equally eye-catching stop by the visiting goalkeeper.
Nicky Law was making his first appearance at Valley Parade since his loan spell with the club in the 2008/09 season and urged to shoot by the crowd he curled an effort inches wide of the target from just outside the box.
Vale’s first chance of the game was a very presentable one; Anthony de Freitas’ free kick squirmed into the path of Paulo Tavares and he fired a yard or so wide of the target when he was only around 12 yards from goal, it was a real let off for the hosts.
Law was looking bright in central midfielder partnered by first year professional debut Daniel Devine, in for his senior debut. The former Rangers man broke into the area well and found a pocket of space to move into before seeing a low shot go wide of the target with perhaps better options waiting for the ball in the middle of the box.
Filipe Morais’ corner caused all kinds of problems and the ball was clawed away by Alnwick but only into the path of Mark Marshall who rounded his man and crossed for Knight-Percival; the former Shrewsbury Town defender saw a strike on the turn cleared off the line by Ben Purkiss.
City came close early on in a second half that didn’t quite have the same intensity as the first; James Hanson’s cross was just ahead of Clarke and Marshall gathered before cutting inside from the right onto his left foot and seeing a shot deflect wide of the target for a corner kick.
The Bantams didn’t threat with as much potency in the second period and were limited by a reasonably resolute Vale defence. Hanson had superb service from Morais and Marshall, two out and out wingers occupying the flanks, and he came close on this occasion, heading the ball inches wide of the far corner after latching into Morais’ cross.
Acting captain for the afternoon at right back, McMahon emerged in space in the area and looked set to force Alnwick into action but as he pulled the trigger, Anthony Grant recovered heroically to intercept and force a corner.
Tavares impressed for the visitors and he went close with an effort from distance just before the hour mark which went inches wide of the target.
In a game McCall’s men controlled for the majority, the longer it went on the more it seemed Vale had the potential to nick the victory against the run of play. A long ball forward saw substitute Christopher Mbamba emerge between Romain Vincelot and Knight-Percival before seeing a shot on the stretch go wide of the target.
The Swedish forward had another gilt-edged chance in injury time but he fired inched wide of the target, again on the stretch, after latching onto Tavares’ low cross into the six-yard box.
Hearts were in the mouths with the last kick of the game when Vale had another glorious opportunity to snatch all three points, but substitute Quentin Pereira couldn’t find a way of forcing the ball past Doyle who held on for a clean sheet.
Not the worst result in the world by any stretch of the imagination, the performance was encouraging but the goals didn’t come. It was for the want of trying though, with City carving plenty of openings and looking creative.