1 Bradford City(Law 52)
1 Bury(Burgess 39)
Saturday 31st December | Sky Bet League One | The Northern Commercials Stadium
The Bantams were held to a fourth straight draw at the hands of Bury on Saturday afternoon. City never reached their maximum on what was ultimately another frustrating result for Stuart McCall and his side. Scott Burgess gave Chris Brass’ side the lead just before half-time with a smartly taken lob before Nicky Law restored parity with a goal early in the second half after Jordy Hiwula had been denied by Rob Lainton.
Bury arrived at the Northern Commercials Stadium without a win in thirteen league fixtures and they almost got off to a flying start in this one. George Miller delivered a cross from the right hand side and Hallam Hope looped a header towards goal which Colin Doyle had to watch all the way before holding onto it alertly underneath his crossbar.
It wasn’t exactly a high-octane start to this fixture and City’s first decent opening in the game came eight minutes in. Mark Marshall received the ball on the left hand side and made a bee-line for the box, cutting inside ahead of Tom Soares and onto his right foot before seeing a low drive held onto by Rob Lainton who had kept his place in the team ahead of former Bantams stopper Ben Williams.
You wouldn’t say City were second best in the early exchanges but Bury were having their sights of goal. Scott Burgess tried an early shot from distance which had Doyle moving across his goal but fortunately he saw the ball go wide of the post leave the home crowd breathing a collective sigh of relief.
It seems to be a regular thing seeing Nathaniel Knight-Percival come close to scoring from a set-piece situation and after Greg Leigh had conceded a corner in order to prevent his former Manchester City team mate Jordy Hiwula from having a free shot at goal, Tony McMahon’s corner was diverted inches over the bar by the Bantams defender.
Bury had their goalkeeper, Lainton to thank midway through the first half for a brilliant stop. Hiwula delivered a cross into the box from the left hand side and James Hanson guided a header towards the bottom corner which was kept out by the single arm of the visiting stopper.
Daniel Devine was making his first league start since the draw at Millwall in September and he came close with a rising shot from 20 yards before Hope was left cursing his luck after a deflected attempt from the edge of the box was held onto by Doyle.
Just before the break, Bury took the lead. Tom Pope clipped a defence-splitting ball forward and Burgess surged onto it from midfield before running through and lobbing the ball over the advancing Doyle who had come a distance off his line in an attempt to make things more difficult for the Bury man.
Burgess and Pope combined once again early in the second half with the scorer of the opener denied a second goal by Doyle who repelled his volley inside the area; down the other end, seconds later City equalised. Hiwula was denied by Lainton but the ball fell kindly to Law who slammed a volley into the net from 12 yards out to give the hosts a platform to build on.
Miller went close with an optimistic shot from 20 yards before Law went agonisingly close to doubling his tally for the afternoon. Josh Cullen floated a cross into the box which was knocked down by Hanson and invitingly into the path of Law who dispatched a volley which went an inch or two wide of the post.
As time went by, frustration grew and Marc McNulty was introduced as a substitute as Stuart McCall looked to find a way past a Bury side who were ready to fight tooth and nail for another point on their travels. The Scottish forward’s first opportunity was one he steered comfortably wide of the post after latching onto Hanson’s knock down from Knight-Percival’s ball forward.
Hanson had a chance of his own, but headed wide of the target after connecting with Matthew Kilgallon’s cultured cross from the left hand side before McNulty saw a volley held onto by Lainton after Hanson once again created the opportunity, helping Tony McMahon’s cross into his path.
Haris Vuckic was brought into the fray late on and he had opportunities himself to get on the scoresheet. With a couple of minutes remaining he snatched at a shot which went harmlessly wide before he ballooned a free kick over the bar in injury time after the outstanding Cullen had drawn a foul just outside the box.
Frustration once again for City on their own patch and there’s not much room for respite as Stuart McCall prepares to take his team to Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium on Monday with the aim of getting back to winning ways.