Swindon Town 1 Bradford City 0
The Bantams endured another frustrating afternoon on the road with defeat at the hands of Swindon Town. Anton Rodgers’ stunning first half free kick ultimately proved to be decisive but the visitors certainly had a plentiful amount of chances. James Hanson spurned a couple on the stroke of half time before being denied by the post late on and Stuart McCall’s men simply could not find a way past Town stopper Lawrence Vigouroux as the hosts held on for their fifth home league victory of the season.
City went into the game on the back of a mid-week victory at home against Northampton Town but almost fell behind with the first opportunity of the game. Darnell Furlong got forward from right back and won a corner before latching onto Johnny Goddard’s resulting delivery and glancing a header narrowly wide of the target.
Marc McNulty kept his place in the starting line-up after starting against Northampton Town and he should have given City the lead with the visitors’ first real opportunity. Mark Marshall raced away down the left hand side and got into the box before squaring to the Scottish forward; his touch was slightly heavy, and under pressure from Furlong he prodded the ball wide of the target.
The game started with a real intensity and Michael Doughty cleared the stand behind the goal with a shot from the edge of the box before Colin Doyle had to make a decent save to prevent Nathan Delfouneso’s curling shot from finding the far corner of his goal. The resulting corner saw Lloyd Jones see a header cleared off the line by James Hanson but his tame clearance only found Raphael Rossi-Branco who planted a shot wide of the target from just inside the box.
Swindon were certainly in the ascendancy and took the lead thanks to a fabulous goal. City weren’t at their sharpest in the early stages of the game and after a cheap foul was given away 25 yards from goal, Anton Rodgers stepped up and curled a delightful free-kick into the top corner past a helpless Doyle.
Doughty tried to make amends for his shot that cleared the stand earlier in the half with an attempt from 15 yards out; his effort on this occasion was nearer to finding the net but still not near enough as it cleared the cross-bar with about two yards to spare. Doyle was far too busy in the first half in all honesty and he had to be at his best to prevent Swindon from doubling their lead, saving low down to keep Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill’s angled drive out.
Nathaniel Knight-Percival was converted from a left winger to a central defender by Dean Saunders at Wrexham and he showed great play wide on the left hand side to drop his shoulder, run between a couple of Swindon players and get into the box. His cutback was fizzed into the path of Hanson and he hammered a first time shot narrowly over the bar on his favoured left foot to leave Luke Williams’ side breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Hanson had another really presentable opportunity to level the scores on the stroke of half time; Marshall dug a cross out from the left hand side which was initially aimed for McNulty but the ball ran through to the scorer of the mid-week match-winner, and he connected with a first time shot that was too close to Lawrence Vigouroux, and he held onto the ball relatively comfortably.
Knowing they had to score to avoid defeat at the County Ground, City started the second half on the front foot. Hanson saw a headed attempt held onto with relative ease by Vigouroux after he’d latched onto Nicky Law’s free kick into the box and then Knight-Percival threatened with his aerial presence following Law’s corner.
The first real chance of the half though fell to Josh Cullen; City conjured up a promising move following some flowing passing play and the ball was worked wide to James Meredith. The marauding left back swung a cross into the box and Cullen connected well with a half-volley on the turn which had to be held at the second time of asking by Vigouroux.
Town skipper Jon Obika had the ball in the net but was ultimately denied by a very tight but early offside call and shortly afterwards the hosts certainly should’ve doubled their advantage. The home side worked the ball superbly, wide to the right and into the feet of Furlong; he crossed to the far post and Delfouneso headed wide of the target with the net barely guarded - a real let off for City.
Haris Vuckic came on for an impressive cameo and his first involvement was to attempt a left-footed curler from just outside the box which was blocked well and importantly by a red shirt. Shortly after the Slovenian’s dangerous cross towards Hanson was well held, Doyle had to make a smart stop at the other end to keep Obika out after he’d turned away from Vincelot in the penalty area.
The pressure was being cranked up by Stuart McCall’s side and Hanson who was heavily involved all afternoon, headed against the bottom of the post after he’d connected with Filipe Morais’ cross to the far post. It was a chance which came agonisingly close on what was to be ultimately a very frustrating afternoon in front of goal.
The Bantams huffed and puffed late on but simply could not breach the Swindon goal; Vuckic went close and Hanson, who was seemingly at the heart of the chances all afternoon, saw another header held onto alertly by a resilient Vigouroux in the Swindon goal.
Obika missed a chance he should have scored which would have put the result beyond all doubt and six additional minutes handed City a lifeline. Colin Doyle marched up-field and into the box as the hosts looked to defend a couple of Law corners into the box but it was Vincelot who had the last chance; heading narrowly wide of the target just moments before the full time whistle was sounded.