Bradford City 1 Oldham Athletic 1
The Bantams were held to a draw on Saturday afternoon by Oldham Athletic, despite another bright display for Stuart McCall's men at the Northern Commercials Stadium. The visitors took the lead early on through Peter Clarke’s powerful header but the spoils were shared thanks to Billy Clarke’s second half penalty after Josh Cullen was bundled over in the box by Ousmane Fane. McCall’s men pushed for a winner late on and almost snatched one through Mark Marshall in injury time but he went a whisker away with a superb curling effort from 20 yards.
With the first chance of the game after just five minutes, Oldham took the lead through a set-piece. James Meredith brought Paul Green to ground to present Marc Klok the opportunity to deliver a cross into the box; the Dutchman’s delivery was met by skipper Clarke and he powered a downward header across goal and into the bottom corner, leaving Colin Doyle with no chance of keeping it out.
Oldham went looking for more with City shaken by the opening goal and Ryan Flynn threaten shortly afterwards; the former Sheffield United man was lively all afternoon and after weaving past Meredith and Cullen and into the box, he saw a shot aimed for the bottom corner held onto by Doyle.
With Marshall’s wonder goal against Coventry City fresh in everyone’s mind after last weekend, the winger came close to an equalising goal after cutting inside and unleashing a right footed shot towards the top corner which was tipped over the bar tremendously by one-time Bantams loanee Connor Ripley at full stretch.
City had bounced back well from going a goal down and continued to look a threat going forward; Daniel Devine seized the initiative after the Bantams had been given the advantage following a foul and the youngster surged forward and weaved in and out of a number of Oldham players before seeing a shot go agonisingly wide of the target. It would have been some first career goal from Devine, who filled in at right back for the injured Tony McMahon.
Timothee Dieng was lining up against his former club Oldham for the first time since leaving in the summer and he went close with a shot from the edge of the box on his return to the starting line-up following a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury, his first start for the club since pre-season.
Despite City's growing presence in the game, Oldham could have doubled their goal tally for the afternoon just before the half hour mark; Josh Law, the younger brother of Nicky, starting at right back for the Latics, delivered a superb first time cross from the right flank which was powered inches wide of the target by Billy McKay.
That chance aside though, the Bantams looked to continue an encouraging display as the first half drew to a close.
Billy Clarke could have levelled things up just before the break but he touched a cross from James Meredith wide of the far post from roughly six yards out.
With City seemingly growing more dominant in progression as the match moved into the second period, Marshall came close with the first opportunity following the half-time interval; Meredith swung a cross into the box from the left hand side, it was helped on by the head of Klok and Marshall saw a volley from the edge of the box repelled by Ripley.
A minute later though, City pressed again and they were awarded a penalty. Cullen was brought down by Oldham’s towering central midfielder Fane and with the injured McMahon usually on penalty duties, Billy Clarke deputised to step up and send Ripley the wrong way and emphatically find the bottom corner.
McCall’s men looked for a second goal with Oldham on the back foot and Nicky Law came close with a curling shot from the edge of the box which went just wide of the target after he’d cut inside from the left flank. Meredith went close himself with a rare attempt on goal too shortly afterwards; after doing well to make progress down the left hand side and get into the box, he showed a trick before seeing a shot kept out acrobatically by Ripley.
After Clarke and Cullen saw efforts from distance go wide of the mark, Dieng saw a header go over the bar after he’d connected with Law’s free kick delivery into a crowded penalty area. Law himself had the ball in the net after scrambling Meredith’s cross home, but the Australian defender had already been pulled back for a tight offside call.
Marshall had another lively afternoon at the Northern Commercials Stadium and he came a matter of mere centimetres from winning the game in outstanding style. He stood up Charles Dunne just outside the area before stepping inside onto his left foot and rifling a curling effort wide of the target. It would have been some way for City to win the game, but it just wasn't to be on this occasion, however. It's a point that moves the Bantams into the automatic promotion places and stretches the league unbeaten run to five games.