Crewe Alexandra 0 Bradford City 1
Phil Parkinson's in-form Bantams completed a perfect Easter period with a narrow victory away at Crewe Alexandra. The hosts played some attractive football at times and edged the opening first period but City grew into the contest and had the best opening of the half through Stephen Darby. Parkinson's men continued their improved play after the break and Jamie Proctor scored the winner, latching onto a Nathan Clarke long free-kick to hammer the ball confidently past Ben Garratt.
As mentioned, Crewe started the game brightly and didn’t look like a side without a home win in four months, going close in the early stages through Bradden Inman who saw an angled drive blocked importantly by Darby; the City skipper conjured up an impressive display as yet another clean sheet was kept.
Inman is clearly a key player for the home side and he certainly is going to be key if Steve Davis’ men are to yet again escape the drop into League Two. The speedy winger played a ball forward looking to pick out Lauri Dalla-Valle and a loose touch by Christopher Routis allowed the Finnish forward a sight of goal but he fired one just wide of the target from the edge of the box.
That moment aside through, Routis, who was recalled for the rested Reece Burke, had an assured game at the back, helping City to a record 22nd clean sheet so far this season.
Inman was involved once again as the home side looked to make their mark on the game early on and after running parallel to Darby down the left hand side, he got into the box and went down under a challenge. The home side urged the referee to give a penalty but he wasn’t interested and waved any appeals away.
City’s first decent opening of the half came down the right hand side; Darby played the ball down the line into the feet of Tony McMahon and his cross was met at the near post by a looping, glancing header from Billy Clarke. With Garratt rooted to the spot, the ball dropped just a yard or so wide of the far post.
As City began to impose themselves more on the game, the best chance of the half then fell the way of the Bantams skipper seven minutes before the break. Billy Clarke played the ball neatly round the corner into the path of the on-rushing right back and he settled himself down before firing a shot across goal and inches wide of the far corner to let the home side off the hook.
Before the half was out, there was time for one more Bradford chance. City counter attacked with pace and intent before McMahon’s eventual cross was headed over the bar by eventual match-winning forward Proctor.
McMahon saw a shot early in the second half blocked importantly by Billy Bingham after he had latched onto Kyel Reid’s far post cross but it wasn’t long before City took the lead. Nathan Clarke laid the ball on a plate for Steven Davies to score the winner against Millwall a couple of days earlier and he was at it again.
The consistent central defender played a long one forward from a free-kick just inside City's half, George Ray appeared to struggle with the sun in his eyes and Proctor took the ball into his path exquisitely before smashing one into the back of the net.
Crewe spurned a decent opportunity of an equaliser five minutes later; Billy Bingham got the ball on the edge of the box and he fired a powerful low cross into the mix and Charlie Kirk connected, but his connection wasn’t true enough to force Ben Williams into action.
The home side were patient with their passing play throughout the main parts of the game but that wasn’t the case when Inman moved into space before trying his luck with a shot from distance. The attempt wasn’t a bad one, but it wasn’t on target and went about a yard or so over the bar.
Steven Davies and James Hanson were brought on as a double substitution in the latter stages and they both had chances to get on the score-sheet. Davies beat the offside trap to see a shot from a tight angle held by Garratt. In an almost identical situation minutes later, Hanson saw a cross-shot go inches over the cross bar.
There was then a penalty shout from City’s point of view five minutes from the end when Davies went down in the box.
It could of been a chance for Parkinson’s men to put the icing on the cake but after the front-man got the better of David Fox and George Ray superbly, he went down under a challenge from Jon Guthrie just as he moved inside the box.
The City bench were up in arms but the referee deemed the defender to have won the ball and waved play on.
The win capped an impressive Easter period for City with a pair of 1-0 victories at the expense of Millwall and Crewe.