Bradford City 1 Oldham Athletic 0
The Bantams battled their way back to winning ways as Tony McMahon scored a looping header early in the second half to register a victory on City's return to the Coral Windows Stadium. The turning point in the game was Connor Brown’s red card following an over aggressive challenge on Kyel Reid and from there on City looked very comfortable and ultimately edged over the line for a victory in their first league game on home soil in 53 days.
City almost took the lead in the opening 60 seconds of the game; Nathan Clarke back in the side in place of Gary Liddle with Christopher Routis moving into central midfield, catapulted a long throw into the area and it bounced through to Tony McMahon who saw a half volley go narrowly over the bar.
Reid was seeing plenty of the ball early on but that cutting edge was perhaps missing at times in the first half; he came forward with the ball and got to the edge of the area before dragging a left footed shot a couple of yards wide of the target.
In all honesty, chances were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes and despite City dominating possession, it looked like a set-piece might be key to opening Oldham up. After James Hanson was fouled, McMahon’s delivery to the far post looked dangerous for a moment but Nathan Clarke couldn’t quite stretch far enough to get onto the end of the cross.
In the 40th minute came probably one of the key moments of the game. Firstly, Ben Williams had to make an alert save to keep Jake Cassidy at bay after Daniel Lafferty had guided Mike Jones’ cross into his path and then Brown, who had only come on as a substitute in the 25th minute was given his marching orders. The ref deemed his forceful challenge on Reid to have been worthy of a straight red card.
With the first real chance of the second half, City took the lead. Reid stood up the defender and picked out the run of James Meredith on the overlap, the Australian delivered a great cross to the far post and McMahon looped a header over Coleman to put The Bantams ahead.
Routis performed impressively on his return to central midfield and he almost got himself on the score-sheet in spectacular fashion. Coleman raced out to make a clearance but it was a weak one that landed at the feet of the Frenchman; he attempted a shot from distance towards goal, but it dropped inches over the bar to let the young goalkeeper off the hook.
Another commendable performance was produced by Nathan Clarke and he had to make a vital block to make sure that Carl Winchester’s shot from the edge of the area wouldn’t trouble Williams after Lafferty had squared the ball to him invitingly.
As City looked for a second to kill the game off, Hanson was involved in a scoring chance from another Bantams set-piece opportunity. The striker peeled off his marker Timothee Dieng to latch onto Lee Evans’ quickly taken free kick but his header was off the mark.
City were creating a plentiful supply of chances in the latter stages of the game and Josh Morris came off the bench to come close to wrapping things up. Devante Cole shrugged off Dieng and fed the ball through into the area for Morris to run onto but he sliced his shot over the bar from a tight angle.
Mark Marshall impressed as a substitute at Bury last weekend and he did so again on this occasion; his first bit of action was to beat Lafferty all ends up before standing a cross up to the far post which was headed downwards by Hanson and flicked wide by Cole.
Marshall also fired wide with a rising angled drive later in the half as City looked to see out the game for the victory.
In the last of the four added minutes, Oldham almost got the leveller they had hoped for from a late corner. Jones’ corner was headed towards goal by Liam Kelly at the far post and Williams had to be alert to make a good reaction save before Marshall cleared the danger with a big punt up field.