Bradford City 2 Southend United 0
The Bantams recorded another victory to make it two wins in four days, propelling City up to eighth in the League One table and just three points off the play-off places. Tony McMahon gave City the lead early in the game with a superb free kick from 25 yards and although the second half became quite a gritty battle between two sides almost cancelling each other out, James Hanson headed in a second via the crossbar and perhaps the back of United stopper Daniel Bentley.
The game didn’t exactly start in the most frantic of fashions, but it was the visitors who almost took the lead through Noel Hunt’s superbly executed strike. He latched onto a bouncing ball to lash a half volley towards goal from the edge of the area and Ben Williams made a superb fingertip save to keep Phil Brown’s men at bay.
With City’s first chance of the game, came the first goal of the game. Wes Thomas was fouled as he looked to make a move towards the eighteen yard box and McMahon went for the goal and found it with his subsequent free kick, which found the top corner from the best part of 25 yards. A superb strike from him, and one that takes his season goal tally to five goals.
Chances came at a premium in a closely contested first half, but Thomas almost got himself on the score-sheet just before the half hour. The Birmingham City loanee curled a shot just inches over the bar after Josh Cullen, who was making his home debut for the club, surged forward on the counter attack and picked him out on the overlap.
The chances were few and far between, but they were coming City’s way with Southend failing to create a great deal. James Hanson fired a thumping first time shot over the bar from the edge of the area on his weaker right foot after some pinball in the 18 yard box following Lee Evans’ long throw into the mix.
Nathan Clarke saw a header go over the bar after connecting with McMahon’s corner before the half was out, and early in the second period Thomas went on a surging run into the box before seeing a shot diverted behind for a corner off United full back Luke O’Neill, who was given a torrid time for the majority of the match by Kyel Reid on the left hand side of midfield.
Southend shot-stopper Bentley is regarded as one of the division’s most promising goalkeepers and he had to be at his best to keep out a Lee Evans free kick which wasn’t intended for goal. After Hanson was fouled, the Welshman whipped in an in-swinging delivery which passed all the way through before being turned around the post alertly by the 22 year old stopper.
Bentley was doing his utmost to keep his side in the game and he made another excellent save, this time to keep McMahon at bay. Reid floated a cross to the far post and McMahon stood unmarked to lash a volley towards goal from a tight angle, but Bentley made an alert stop to deny the midfielder a brace.
With City pressing for an important second goal, they got one through Hanson, who made it 10 for the season with his 3rd in two games. McMahon the scorer, this time turned provider, with his corner being crashed into the back of the net via the head of Hanson, the underside of the crossbar and possibly the back of United stopper Bentley, but it’s one City’s number 9 will certainly be claiming.
Steven Davies was introduced from the bench, and after producing some clever play to allow Evans a sight of goal; he had a shot himself on the half volley from a tight angle, but his venomous strike was kept out by Bentley at his near post to deny the City forward a second goal in as many games.
Southend’s last chance to try and get back into the game came in the 88th minute when Anthony Wordsworth, struck a 25 free kick well, but Williams held alertly first time. It was an important stop to keep the sheet very much clean, any spillages in the crowded penalty area might’ve resulted in a goal back for Phil Brown’s men at an important stage in the game.