The Bantams were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of ten-man Bury this Tuesday evening via a penalty shoot-out. Shakers skipper Nathan Cameron picked up two bookings in three first half minutes to be given his marching orders but City could not capitalise on the advantage presented to them as the game went into extra time. Phil Parkinson’s men had a hatful of chances in the half an hour extra time period but Bury held on before proving superior from the penalty spot.
The game started at quite a high pace with both sides looking to make an early mark on the clash. Devante Cole saw a rising 20 yard shot go over the bar after Christopher Routis had picked him out with an incisive pass and Leon Clarke had to be denied by a vital intervening tackle incoming from probably the stand out performer for City in the form of Rory McArdle.
Luke James was coming into the team for his first start since the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit to Barnsley back in October and his glancing header went dangerously across the face of the goal before Routis’ attempt was held onto by Bury’s loanee stopper Ian Lawlor. James was involved again a couple of minutes later as he crossed superbly into the path of Mark Marshall before the winger dragged a shot wide of the target.
Cole looked set to tap in the opening goal at the far post after Marshall had robbed make shift right back Tom Soares of possession, but the forward lost his footing and slipped when he looked certain to get himself on the scoresheet; a real let of for the visitors.
Cameron went into the referee’s book for pulling James to the ground after the latter showed workman like effort to rob the imposing central defender of possession before looking to drive forward down the right hand side. Cameron saw his second yellow and a subsequent red just three minutes later when he deliberately handled the ball under the nose of the referee.
The second half probably started how the visitors would’ve liked considering the man disadvantage, with neither side looking overly likely to find the opening goal in the early stages.
Josh Morris was brought on from the bench and he almost played a part in the opening goal; he did his bit to whip a dangerous ball into the box from a free kick situation, but Nathan Clarke couldn’t quite make a telling connection and the ball bobbled wide of the target.
The other two City substitutes Billy Clarke and Steven Davies had efforts of their own in the dying minutes of the normal 90 minutes of play, none of those troubled Lawlor but Davies was to have one more effort in the last seconds of the three added minutes. Lee Evans delivered a free kick into the area and his glancing header clipped the top of the crossbar before going behind for a goal kick.
Davies was making his first appearance for the club since Bury were last in Bradford, back in October - a game which City won 2-1. The Liverpudlian forward saw a hammer of a left footed shot go just wide of the target after he’d let rip from 20 yards out.
As expected, City were well on top in the final 15 minutes of extra time, with the man advantage and the home crowd urging them to come forward in search of what would’ve probably been the winning goal; Lee Evans came close on this occasion, but his rasping volley from 20 yards took a slight deflection before going behind for a corner kick.
Danny Pugh connected superbly on the volley with Chris Hussey’s cross before seeing his effort come back off the inside of the far post with Ben Williams rooted to the spot. After Billy Clarke was denied heroically by Lawlor in front of the Kop, Andrew Tutte then saw a dipping drive go inches over the bar; chances were beginning to flow again with tired legs setting in.
There was still time for more promising City chances to come and go; James Meredith surged forward and played a neat one-two with Cole before seeing a shot pushed away by Lawlor and then Cole had a chance himself, controlling Morris’ centre before hitting a shot agonisingly wide of the target.
The realisation set in that the game was going the distance and it was David Flitcroft’s men who came out on top on in the penalty shoot-out; Jacob Mellis keeping his cool to step up and send Bury into the fourth round after Davies and Cole had seen their attempts from 12 yards kept out by Lawlor.