Burton Albion 3 Bradford City 1
The Bantams were sent crashing to a defeat on the road at the hands of league leaders Burton Albion. The hosts got off to a good start in fortunate circumstances with former City loanee Mason Bennett finding the net with a shot the made its way past Ben Williams via a significant deflection off Rory McArdle, who was to later score a stoppage time consolation goal. Prior to City’s goal, an unfortunate own goal off Williams and a Mark Duffy tap-in had all but put the game to rest on a disappointing afternoon.
The game started off at a fast pace with City trying to combat a team at the peak of the division and brimming with confidence, and Nigel Clough’s side should have taken the league ten minutes in. Duffy saw a corner cleared back to him and his second delivery was headed back across goal by John Mousinho before Lucas Akins blazed over the bar from close range.
Duffy was producing a fine performance in the first half and the Birmingham City loanee found a pocket of space just outside the eighteen yard box before seeing a low, angled drive kept out alertly by Ben Williams.
Shortly afterwards, Burton took the lead through Bennett, one of three faces in the starting line-up who had spells with City in recent years. A loose ball popped up into the path of Bennett and he saw a low drive from 15 yards divert past an unfortunate Williams via the leg of McArdle.
A couple of minutes later, Billy Knott turned Phil Edwards inside and out before delivering a cross to the far post which was headed over the bar by Jamie Proctor to let the home side off the hook. City were to go even closer with their next attack through strike-partner James Hanson.
Christopher Routis’ ball forward was missed by John Mousinho and Hanson ran clear before seeing a low shot go inches wide of the far post.
That chance was a real let off for the home side.
Before the half was out, Knott saw a sliced volley go wide of the target before Akins dragged a low shot wide of the target from the edge of the area.
The Bantams had started the game with a diamond-shape in midfield but Phil Parkinson introduced Wes Thomas and Mark Marshall at the break to allow City to change to a more standard 4-4-2 formation.
Aided for the substitutions, City came out of the traps quickly at the beginning of the second half and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff had to head the ball behind for a corner importantly as Hanson looked to connect with Josh Morris’ superb cross into the area from the left hand side.
Burton weren't creating much in the way of chances in the first half of the second half as City looked to put them on the back foot. Tony McMahon saw a speculative shot from distance go over the bar after Thomas has held the ball up well and laid the ball off to him.
Hanson also saw a glancing header held onto comfortably by former Bantams stopper Jon McLaughlin after connecting with a Billy Knott cross.
Following his half-time introduction, Marshall performed admirably and after getting the better of Damien McCrory he stood a cross up to the far post and Hanson connected with a header which he couldn’t quite divert on target as it went harmlessly over the bar.
Burton didn’t create much in the way of chances but when they did come their way, they were ultimately clinical enough to get the three points in the bag. Tom Naylor played his part in doubling Burton’s lead; McCrory delivered a low cross into the box and he saw a volley tipped onto the bar superbly by Williams but unfortunately the ball bounced down off the woodwork and hit him before trickling over the line.
Matters were made worse for City just minutes when Duffy tapped in at the far post after connecting with Stuart Beavon’s low cross.
The goal had come about following an attack down City’s left with full back Greg Leigh out of the equation due to cramp.
City did get on the scoresheet through McArdle deep into injury time as he headed home at the near post after connecting with McMahon’s corner.
Ultimately it was to be a very frustrating afternoon for City with defeat to the table topping Brewers and attention now turns to next week’s trip to Peterborough United, another side vying for a place in the play-off places.