The Bantams fell to a very unfortunate defeat at the hands of promotion-chasing Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon. The home side came closest to opening the scoring in the first half, with Yanic Wildschut being denied by the woodwork. Billy Clarke missed a great chance to put City ahead early in the second half and with the game seemingly heading for a draw, substitute Haris Vuckic latched onto a loose ball in the penalty are before rounding Ben Williams and slotting in the winning goal from a tight angle.
Backed by an estimated crowd of over 3,000 travelling supporters, it was City who came close to taking the lead in the first couple of minutes. Wigan skipper Craig Morgan was caught napping by Jamie Proctor who robbed him of possession before moving forward into the box; he laid the ball into the path of the over-lapping Kyel Reid who saw an angled drive clawed behind for a corner by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
City impressed in the first half and did cause some real problems, but it was the home side who had the lions’ share of possession in the first forty-five. Shortly after Stephen Darby was alert enough to turn Ryan Colclough’s dangerous low cross behind for a corner kick, the hosts were denied by the woodwork. Wildschut received a pass and drove forward before cutting inside from the left and seeing a right footed shot come back off the base of the post.
It was a let off for City who had actually done well to keep the talented Dutch forward quiet throughout the first half, despite him being a clear attacking threat for Gary Caldwell’s men. A minute later, down the other end of the pitch, Josh Cullen saw a shot from the edge of the box deflect behind for a corner after Lee Evans’ long throw into the box had been cleared into his path.
Unfortunate really was the key word on a frustrating afternoon for Phil Parkinson’s men and after McMahon’s free kick was headed into space by Proctor, Evans looked set to pounce and fire City ahead, but he lost his footing and Wigan cleared the ball up the field.
City should have taken the lead inside the first sixty seconds of the second half through Billy Clarke; Proctor picked up Stephen Warnock’s stray throw-in and crossed low into the box, but the Irishman on his weaker right foot couldn’t find the target to spurn a real golden chance.
Vuckic was introduced as a substitute in the second half, and with his first touch of the ball, he curled a free kick towards goal from 20 yards but Williams was alert enough to watch the ball all the way and hold onto it importantly.
It really was an end-to-end affair at times and up the other end of the pitch, Evans put one over the bar.
Reid beat Reece Wabara all ends up to deliver a cross into the box, Wigan dealt with the ball temporarily before the Welsh midfielder sliced a volley over the bar from the edge of the box. The ball sat up for him invitingly, but it was a difficult one to execute.
With just under ten minutes remaining, City were dealt a gut-wrenching blow as the hosts took the lead. The game looked to be heading for a draw but Wigan took the upper hand through Vuckic; he beat Reece Burke to a loose ball in the box after Nathan Clarke and Craig Davies had wrestled for possession and he showed great composure to round Williams before slotting home from a tight angle.
James Hanson, Wes Thomas and Mark Marshall were thrown on shortly afterwards in a triple substitution by Phil Parkinson but City’s last chance of the game came from Lee Evans. He delivered a cross into the box and Hanson went down under a challenge from Leon Barnett before the ball curled inched wide of the far post with Jaaskelainen rooted to the spot.
Attention now turns to the Easter weekend with fellow play-off hopefuls Millwall coming to The Coral Windows Stadium. Hopefully luck will be on City’s side a little bit more than it was on a cruel afternoon in Lancashire this weekend.