Southend United 3 (Atkinson 15, 72, Vincelot O.G. 87)
Bradford City 0
The Bantams fell to a defeat at the hands of Southend United this Saturday afternoon. Phil Brown’s men scored early on through former Bantams midfielder Will Atkinson and he added his second goal in the second half with a superb finish. City never really got into their stride on a frustrating day at the office and a third goal was added late on as Romain Vincelot scored an unfortunate own-goal to consign Stuart McCall’s men to just their second defeat of the season.
Southend went into the game five unbeaten and looked a team full of confidence in the early stages of the game. Anthony Wordsworth was the Blues’ best player in the draw at the Northern Commercials Stadium last month and it was his corner which resulted in Nile Ranger heading the ball over the bar; he perhaps should have done better from 10 yards out to give the hosts the lead.
The two United players combined again to create the next opportunity; Wordsworth’s intelligent lofted pass in behind presented the former Blackpool man a chance to get a shot away but although he connected cleanly with a bouncing ball, he couldn’t hit the target as Phil Brown’s side looked continually threatening in the final third.
City had managed to get forward much less than their hosts in the open in exchanges but the first chance came from the first meaningful attack. Nicky Law broke forward and spread the ball wide to Stephen Darby who whipped a cross into the box which was diverted marginally wide of the bottom corner by the head of James Hanson.
The next attack produced the first goal of the game, but unfortunately it was one scored by the home side. Simon Cox brought the ball forward and played the ball through to former Bantams midfielder Will Atkinson who beat the offside trap and kept his cool to prod the ball past Colin Doyle and into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.
Wordsworth saw an attempt go over the bar shortly afterwards before central defence pairing Romain Vincelot and Nathaniel Knight-Percival had to be at their sturdiest to keep Ranger at bay after he’d looked to pounce in the box and make matters worse for Stuart McCall’s side.
Nicky Law saw a 20 yard daisy-cutter deflect inches wide of the post after some slick link-up play with Jordy Hiwula who had been given the nod to start alongside James Hanson in place of the injured Billy Clarke.
The next chance was a big one and it was a Bradford one. Mark Marshall delivered a free kick into the box and in a crowded penalty area, the ball crashed against the crossbar via what appeared to be the head of Vincelot with Hanson and Knight-Percival close by amongst a melee of navy blue shirts.
Southend were still having the majority of the chances that were being created and after Stephen McLaughlin’s rising drive went a yard or so over fellow Irishman Colin Doyle’s goal-frame, Wordsworth saw a free kick from 20 yards kept out alertly after he himself had been fouled by Josh Cullen.
The cog that was making this Southend side tick was Wordsworth and he had a couple of chances before the first half was out; an audacious half volley from range was watched precariously over the bar by Doyle before the City stopper produced a brilliant save low down to prevent his 20 yard snapshot from finding the bottom corner.
A quick start to the second half would have been ideal but the visitors were still going through the gears in the early stages; despite this, Marshall went close after seeing a shot from 20 yards fumbled but eventually grasped by a worried Mark Oxley.
City needed a way back into the game and Stuart McCall brought Marc McNulty on in place of Jordy Hiwula just before the hour. The Scotsman had a real chance to level the scores but he sliced the ball over the bar after Demetriou had kept Knight-Percival’s header out on the line following Law’s corner.
The Bantams definitely looked more threatening during this spell but shortly after Dieng had seen a glancing header wide of the target, Southend doubled their tally. Demetriou tossed a cross into the box and it was helped on by the combination of Adam Thompson and Marc-Antoine Fortune into the path of Atkinson who rifled a superb half volley into the bottom corner from 12 yards out for his second of the afternoon.
Atkinson was denied a hat-trick moments later by some alert defending in the goalmouth by James Meredith before Hanson headed wide from just inside the box at the other end of the pitch after Oxley had repelled Marshall’s fierce drive into the air and into his path.
City searched for a way back into the game but it wasn’t to be their afternoon and that was made clear three minutes from time when Southend added a third in unfortunate circumstances. The hosts counter-attacked and Marc-Antoine fortune drilled a cross across the six yard box aimed for Ranger but Vincelot was unfortunate to see his intervention result in the ball finding his own net via the inside of the post.
Despite the result already set in stone at this point, City searched persistently to breach the Southend goal. A consolation almost came in stoppage time but McNulty was denied alertly from close range by Oxley before Law saw an angled volley go wide of the target before the final whistle was sounded. A miserable afternoon in Essex for the Bantams who suffered their first defeat in five league matches and only the second in the league so far this season.