Bradford City 1 Accrington Stanley 2
The Bantams were eliminated from the Emirates FA Cup at the first hurdle after being defeated by League Two side Accrington Stanley on Saturday afternoon. City will be disappointed by the exit and equally so with what was a below-par performance and they fell behind after half-an-hour to Romuald Boco’s header. City levelled in the second half through Matthew Kilgallon’s first goal for the club but Jordan Clark had the final say late on with a brilliantly taken strike.
Mark Marshall was back into the starting line-up and one of six changes made to the starting line-up by Stuart McCall and he played a part in the first chance of the game. He ran down the right hand side and got the better of Matty Pearson before hanging a cross to the far post; James Hanson headed the ball downwards and towards goal but Mark Hughes cleared the ball off the line.
City were looking strong in the opening minutes and Filipe Morais was the next to go close, curling a low shot wide after being teed up by a combination of Haris Vuckic and Daniel Devine from a free kick situation about 20 yards from goal.
Colin Doyle has recently been included in the provisional 35 man squad for the Republic of Ireland’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against Austria and he showed good goalkeeping ability to hold onto Romuald Boco’s menacing angled drive as the visitors began to look relatively threatening on the counter attack.
Boco was a lively outlet for the visitors all afternoon and shortly after Morais had seen a header go wide of the target following a Marshall cross into the box, he saw a stunning drive from at least 25 yards out rattle the crossbar with Doyle a mere hopeful spectator.
The Frenchman opened the scoring and gave the visitors the lead on the half-hour mark. Accrington worked the ball wide to Sean McConville on the right hand side and his delivery to the near post found the net via the head of Boco - the first goal scored against City in the FA Cup since Jamie Mackie scored Reading’s third at the Madejski Stadium in March 2015.
Haris Vuckic should have levelled the scores just a few minutes later; after receiving Morais’ square pass inside the penalty area, he did well to round his man but his effort was saved low down by Elliot Parish and it was a gilt-edged chance that was spurned by the Slovenian forward.
It was a mystery how City failed to get on the scoresheet in a first half that had seen a fair share of chances created and James Hanson was the next to go close; Marshall played a short corner to Matthew Kilgallon and his cross into the box was met at the far post but the ball went a matter of inches wide of the post to leave John Coleman’s side unscathed.
Jordy Hiwula was introduced as a half time substitution in place of Haris Vuckic and he went close after just a few minutes on the pitch. Morais came forward and found Timothee Dieng who picked out Hiwula on the edge of the box and he saw a well-struck shot held onto alertly by Parish who seemed determined to keep a clean sheet.
Jordan Clark would later score the match-winning goal and he showed a sign of things to come early in the second half; he showed great acceleration and close ball control to cut inside from the left hand side and weave his way into a central position before seeing a low drive held onto by Doyle.
City were probing in terms of chances and going close with them but the intensity in the play still wasn’t full on; Morais had a tame shot held onto by Parish before Dieng saw a towering header go just over the bar in front of a half-open Kop after he’d connected with Stephen Darby’s cross into the box.
Clark continued to look bright on the left hand side of midfield and he saw a shot hit the side netting after Boco had picked him out; shortly afterwards though, City were level. Billy Clarke delivered a corner into the box and it was met by the head of Kilgallon at the near post, the ball looked to hit an Accrington player but nonetheless it found the net to eradicate the deficit.
You could have been forgiven for thinking the balance was now going to swing in City’s favour, but it was Accrington who scored the next and ultimately winning goal. Boco played a key role, sending Clark clear with a headed flick-on and although Darby managed to catch him up the visiting midfielder rifled a low, angled drive across goal and into the far corner.
Dieng had a shot from a similar angle at the other end of the pitch go marginally wide of the far post after Nicky Law had played a key role in a good attacking move and with about 90 seconds of regular time remaining James Hanson connected with Law’s corner to plant a header towards goal which Parish held onto alertly.
In added time, Accrington substitute Shay McCartan appeared to be in some discomfort and after a few minutes of treatment was stretchered off the pitch. There didn’t look to be an incident, for example a collision with another player, but he left the field to a standing ovation. Thankfully, it later appeared that he is well and actually travelled back on the team bus.