Bradford City 2 Rochdale 2
The Bantams twice came from behind to earn a point against a Rochdale side who conjured up a battling away display. Joe Bunney headed the visitors in front early on before Rory McArdle levelled things before half time, capping a momentous week for him on a personal note after becoming a father for the first time. Bunney rifled one into the bottom corner to give Keith Hill’s side the lead once again but Steven Davies got himself on the score-sheet for the third time in five matches, heading home a leveller connecting with Tony McMahon’s corner, the latter’s 15th assist of the season.
Rochdale started the game well and went close in the first couple of minutes; Matthew Lund fired a half volley towards goal from just outside the box and Ben Williams had to be alert and make a fingertip save to divert the ball wide of the post. McMahon saw free kick from the edge of the area clawed away after Wes Thomas had done well to draw a foul but then the visitors took the lead.
Ian Henderson spread the ball wide to Joe Rafferty and the Dale right back swung in an inch perfect cross which was powered into the far corner by the head of Bunney, who became the victim of jeers from the Kop following an over enthusiastic celebration under the noses of the home supporters behind the goal.
McMahon was proving to be a threat from set-pieces with the visitors committing a number of fouls on the periphery of the 18 yard box in the early stages. His free kick on this occasion, had the power and the accuracy to beat the wall and head towards goal but Josh Lillis showed good agility and handling to keep hold of the ball.
With the midfielder playing his part in City’s attacking involvement early on, he was bound to play his part in the equalising goal, and so he did. Billy Knott held the ball up and allowed McMahon to overlap and drive into the area with the ball and his low centre was turned in by McArdle who capped a week that he will never forget, with a goal. The reliable defender had experienced the birth of his first child, Alexander, on Monday.
Rochdale skipper Henderson, top scorer for the club last season and looks set to do so again this season, but he fluffed a presentable opportunity early in the first half. He latched onto a loose ball and with the angle set for him to have a shot on goal, he lost his footing and stumbled to the deck providing the crowd with quite a comical moment.
The visitors didn’t have to wait long to regain the lead as Bunney found the net once more, less than sixty seconds later. Knott lost possession in the middle of the pitch and Bunney came forward before rifling a sublime drive into the bottom corner from the best part of 25 yards out.
Hill’s men weren’t in front for long however, as Davies, on as a half time substitute for the injured James Hanson, levelled proceedings. McMahon delivered a corner into the box that Lillis had no intentions of coming for, and Davies rose highest to crash a header into the roof of the net. It was later revealed that Hanson was withdrawn as a precaution following a clash of heads with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
Bunney, who had a distinct resemblance in appearance and play of Peter Crouch, was denied a hat-trick by a great save from Williams. The Dale forward fired a half volley towards goal from just outside the box and the City stopper had to stop the ball at full stretch to deny him the match ball.
City looked more intent on scoring the winning goal, really pressing towards the Rochdale box in front of a packed Kop but it was the visitors who had the clear cut chances to win it in the latter stages. Michael Rose’s cross was a peach and there ended up being three blue shirts sprawling to get onto the end of what was a very good delivery.
Bunney was then involved again, this time looking to turn the provider; his cross-shot ended up trickling millimetres wide of the far post with Dale sub Grant Holt the nearest to applying the finish and what would have been the winning goal.
So, seven points in seven days for City and attention now turns to next weekend’s trip to the Fylde coast to take on Blackpool. Backed by well over 2,000 travelling supporters it will be the first trip to Bloomfield Road in almost ten years.