Chesterfield 0 Bradford City 1
The Bantams secured a second victory in a week thanks to Billy Clarke’s superbly taken first half goal. Stuart McCall’s men were dominant in the first half and could have troubled the scorers on a number of occasions on an afternoon which saw just the one goal suffice. Chesterfield rarely threatened just days after scoring three times on their own patch and it was certainly the men in claret and amber who were in the ascendancy for the majority of the game. City are now unbeaten in 11 matches and it’s three points that lifts the team into the automatic promotion places.
The first half display was a dominant one from City with plenty of chances being carved open thanks to more of the fluid football that has been become the norm under McCall recently.
Nicky Law was one of the outstanding performers in the opening forty-five minutes and he picked out Josh Cullen on the edge of the box who curled a shot comfortably wide of Ryan Fulton’s far post.
Billy Clarke and Jordy Hiwula were proving to be a threatening strike duo in the early exchanges but it was Timothee Dieng who came mightily close with the next shot in anger.
The French midfielder received Stephen Darby’s throw-in and he set his sights from 25 yards before seeing a fierce drive go inches wide of the far post, there wouldn’t have been much Fulton could’ve done to keep that one from finding the net had it been on target.
Hiwula saw an effort from the edge of the area over the bar after he’d reacted quickly in the box to turn away from his marker.
Mark Marshall then produced some great work shortly afterwards to skip past a couple of Chesterfield players and see a fierce drive across the six yard box go inches wide of the far post, with Hiwula over by the far post mere inches away from connecting with the ball and sliding in.
Great work by Hiwula a minute later to force a corner resulted in the opening goal of the game; Law played the corner short into the feet of Clarke and he thundered a shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle to give McCall’s men a deserved lead.
Clearly brimming with confidence after scoring his fourth goal of the season and equalling his tally for the whole of last season, Clarke saw a shot a few minutes later held onto precariously by Fulton.
Colin Doyle wasn’t called up on too frequently all afternoon but he made an outstanding save just after the half hour mark to keep Kristian Dennis’ well-executed 25 yard free kick from finding the top corner.
Marshall forced a save from Fulton with a firm attempt from just inside the box. Minutes later, Law then went close with a measured shot from just inside the box going inches wide of the far post.
The Chesterfield fans were on their feet appealing for a penalty later in the half but referee Mr Darren Bond was unmoved.
Gboly Ariyibi crossed low into the box and the ball looked to hit Stephen Darby’s grounded arm as the right back looked to steady himself while slipping over. There was little he could do to get his arm out of the way and the referee made the correct call to wave the appeal away.
The flow of chances showed no sign of letting up into the second half and City went close to doubling the lead early on after the restart.
Law came forward down the left hand side and found James Meredith on the overlap, his low centre was helped towards goal by Hiwula but the close range flick hit Fulton before Chesterfield could clear their lines
City were looking comfortable at this stage, so the Spireites acted by bringing on a danger man of their own in the form of Jay O’Shea, although his first action was to launch a free kick into Row-Z of the stand behind the goal.
A few minutes later, he picked out the Conor Wilkinson to his left and he ran at Stephen Darby before seeing an angled drive go over the bar.
James Meredith conjured another typically athletic performance at left back and after connecting with Jordy Hiwula’s incisive pass, the City defender saw a shot from inside the box go inches wide of the target.
He didn’t connect with it cleanly but it was still almost enough to double his team’s lead.
City made a double substitution in the later stages of the game with Haris Vuckic and Filipe Morais introduced into the action, the pair of them looked lively and caused the hosts more problems as the visitors looked to kill the game off.
The latter came forward and found Marshall in the box, he then proceeded to cut inside and see a shot go a couple of yards wide of the target.
Vuckic was also at the heart of the action; he picked out the run of Marshall in injury time with an intelligent pass and he cut back towards Hiwula.
The City forward let the ball run into the path of Josh Cullen and his goal bound attempt was diverted behind for a corner by a last ditch block by Burnley loanee defender Tom Anderson.
Meredith had one more chance to get his name on the scoresheet in the last minute of the three added on at the end of the game but after latching onto Romain’s Vincelot’s pass over the top, he sliced a shot wide from a tight angle inside the penalty area when Vuckic was screaming for the ball to be played into his path in the middle.