It’s a strange feeling writing a match report after a Bradford City home defeat, but that was the result after a frustrating game of football for Stuart McCall’s men at Valley Parade. The visitors perhaps edged a closely and at times fiercely contested first half but both teams went into the break at level pegging. Rovers were quick out of the traps early in the second half and took the lead through Dominic Samuel’s header after connecting with Craig Conway’s cross. The Bantams huffed and puffed but just could not find a way through an organised opposition.
Within sixty seconds of the first whistle, Rovers had the first chance of the afternoon, Elliott Bennett delivered a cross into the box from the right-hand side; the ball was controlled by Samuel but the ball eventually came loose to Corry Evans who hit a rasping half volley inches wide of the post.
Bradley Dack made a big money move north from Gillingham to sign for Tony Mowbray’s League One new-boys and he caused problems early in the first half, playing in a free-roaming attacking midfield role. After getting the better of Nathaniel Knight-Percival, he saw a low cross aimed for Samuel cut out importantly by the Sponsors’ Man of the Match, Jake Reeves.
Going forward, City were restricted in the early stages and it ultimately became a theme which would last the entirety of the afternoon. Blackburn though, tried to crank up the pressure and skipper Charlie Mulgrew wasn’t to catch Colin Doyle out with an assured left-footed delivery into the box after Tom Field had fouled Bennett.
Tony McMahon caused a moment of chaos in Blackburn’s penalty area just after the half-hour mark when his free-kick was met by the head of Knight-Percival. The defender’s header down was blocked and the ball bounced favourably to Omari Patrick, but fresh from signing a new three-year deal, he saw a shot held onto by David Raya.
Dack worked hard down the left-hand side to win Blackburn a corner and Conway’s delivery was met by the head of Samuel and fortunately the ball went wide of the target. Down the other end, Shay McCartan was booked for simulation after going down in the box in search of a penalty after a tangle with Charlie Mulgrew. There may have been some contact but the referee deemed it as unfair play by the Northern Irish forward.
Timothee Dieng volleyed over the bar from the edge of the box after the ball had fallen invitingly into his path after Dominic Poleon’s pass aimed for McCartan had popped up into his path. City had their attempts to take the lead before the half was out and Blackburn had a big chance on the stroke of half-time; Mulgrew’s deep free kick into the box was kept alive by Bennett and Dack didn’t connect truly with the ball; had he done so it would have been a certain goal for the visitors.
City were perhaps not switched on quickly enough after the restart and Blackburn duly obliged by taking the lead; Conway was afforded the time down the left-hand side to pick his spot with a cross, and his delivery was met by Dominic Samuel, and he powered a header past Doyle into the back of the net, right under the noses of the sizeable travelling support.
Derrick Williams came forward from left-back in attempt to add salt to the fresh City wounds but his thumping attempt from just outside the box took a slight deflection before, thankfully, going wide of the target with the Bantams on the back foot.
Ben Gladwin, a summer signing from Queens Park Rangers came on in place of Bradley Dack after the hour-mark and he latched onto Corry Evans’ cross into the box to loop a header towards goal but his attempt lacked the power to beat Doyle who made quite a routine stop to keep the bleach-blonde haired winger at bay.
Stuart McCall made a triple substitution in an attempt to galvanise his team in the latter stages of the game, and with Paul Taylor, Charlie Wyke and Alex Jones now on the field, City pushed that bit more in search of an equaliser.
There was a big shout for handball shortly afterwards; McMahon’s cross looked to have been handled inside the box by Evans and with the crowd still reeling at the referee’s refusal to award a spot-kick, Nicky Law proceeded to take a shot which was held onto by Raya.
Alex Jones did well to control a ball that came from some height and he moved towards the Blackburn box before dragging a shot a yard or so wide of the target to let Tony Mowbray’s side off the hook.
Matthew Kilgallon has been impressive since coming into the side at the start of the season and he put in another admirable display against his former club; he saw a volley from the edge of the box go into the Kop after Doyle’s hopeful punt into the box had fallen into his path.
Three minutes into the four added on at the end of the game, City were denied another big penalty appeal and Kilgallon earned himself a booking for proceeding to remonstrate with the referee in sheer frustration. The defender had a shot which was blocked by Peter Whittingham; it was hard to see whether it struck his arm, or chest at such high speed but the penalty wasn’t awarded and Rovers held on for victory.