Bradford City 1 Bristol Rovers 1
The Bantams were forced to settling for a share of the spoils this afternoon after being pegged back by a late equaliser scored by Bristol Rover substitute Charlie Colkett. The first half was an even contest with both teams having their chances but the deadlock was finally broken in the final quarter of the game when James Meredith headed in his first goal of the season. On slightly strange afternoon though, which included a second half stoppage for a low-flying drone, Rovers equalised with only four minutes of normal time remaining when Chelsea loanee Colkett slammed past Colin Doyle.
In truth, the intensity was slightly missing in the opening stages of the game with both teams somewhat cancelling each other out; the visitors arrived unchanged following a midweek draw against Walsall at the Memorial Stadium.
James Hanson was back in the team after a month or so on the sidelines laid off with a thigh injury and he attempted to connect with Meredith’s teasing cross into the area for his first action of the game but Rovers stopper Kelle Roos was on hand to thwart him.
After Stuart Sinclair had shot wide for the visitors earlier in the game, Billy Bodin tried his luck with their next half chance of the afternoon but he dragged his speculative drive from 25 yards comfortably wide of the target.
Billy Clarke kept his place in the starting eleven to partner Hanson up front and he almost broke the deadlock in stunning fashion. After some fantastically controlled play in the middle of the pitch by City, the ball broke to the Irishman and he saw a half volley from at least 30 yards out go inches over the bar; it would’ve been some way of sparking the game into life.
Shortly afterwards, Clarke saw a shot blocked thunderously by Rovers central defender Peter Hartley in the penalty area after Mark Marshall couldn’t quite connect properly from Hanson’s flick on.
It was a challenge which left Clarke down and suffering after what was a hefty challenge, but he was tough enough to be able to carry on and then saw a shot from 20 yards go narrowly wide of the target a few minutes later.
Bristol had a big chance to take the lead just before half time and it fell to their leading scorer Matty Taylor.
After Marshall had surrendered possession, Bodin saw a shot pushed away by Doyle and then an off-balance Taylor somehow managed to force the ball wide of the target from just a few yards out, it was a big let-off for City and real missed opportunity for the visitors.
City looked to begin the second half on the front foot and they were presented a chance after Hartley slipped just outside the penalty area; Hanson latched onto the ball and squared to Clarke but his attempt from the edge of the box was too close to Roos, who dealt with it comfortably.
The visitors always carried a threat on the counter attack and they tried their luck through Harrison and Taylor, who both saw tame attempts fail to trouble Doyle.
Marshall then went close down the other end; his vicious drive spilled behind for a corner by Roos after some attractive, intricate play in the final third of the pitch from City.
Stuart McCall’s men were pressing in search of a goal but shortly after Timothee Dieng had seen an unorthodox attempt deflect behind for a corner, the game was paused.
In a bizarre turn of events, the match was halted briefly for safety reasons after a drone was spotted hovering in the air above the playing surface. Play was stopped in total for around four minutes but after it was resumed, City continued to push for an opener.
Marshall went close with a shot from distance and then a Hanson header hit the top of the net after connecting with Stephen Darby’s cross to the far post.
City eventually found the opening goal though, and it came from the unlikely source of Meredith.
Marshall saw a driven cross-come-shot from wide deflect up off Tom Lockyer and into the path of City's Australian left back, who headed home from roughly six yards out.
City looked in control of the game as the time ticked down into the final minutes but Bristol equalised in slightly fortunate fashion to deal McCall's men a real sucker-punch.
Lee Brown delivered a cross into the box and Romain Vincelot sadly slipped as he looked to head the ball clear.
Vincelot's unfortunate slip allowed Ellis Harrison to tee up Colkett for an opening and he slammed the ball into the back of the net from roughly eight yards out.
Rovers almost went ahead shortly afterwards; Doyle had to be at his best to tip Hartley’s header behind for a corner kick after the former Plymouth man had connected with Chris Lines' dangerous free kick into a crowded penalty area.
There was time still chance for one more scoring opportunity deep into the eight minutes of additional time. Darby’s cross was headed back into the mix by Meredith and Vuckic helped the ball on towards goal only to be denied by easily the save of the afternoon from Roos.
Attention now turns to next week’s encounter with Phil Parkinson’s Bolton Wanderers at the Macron Stadium. A clash which sees two sides at the top end of the table come head to head for the first time in almost eighteen years.