Kevin Toner made his first appearance in Bradford colours following his transfer deadline day loan move from Aston Villa, as City’s reserves lost out 1-0 to Walsall in the Central League this Wednesday.
Toner, who ironically played on loan at Walsall during the first part of the season, played the ninety minutes in central defence.
A single goal from Andreas Makris in the opening half of the match ensured victory for the Saddlers at a rainy Birmingham County FA headquarters.
Along with Toner, City’s starting XI in the Midlands included professionals Joe Cracknell, Daniel Devine, James King, Jacob Hanson and Ellis Hudson, with Sheffield Wednesday loanee Matthew Penney also featuring.
Both sides had early sights of goal in the opening exchanges of the match.
Makris curled an effort straight at Cracknell just a few minutes in, while Jordan Sangha fired narrowly over for the hosts.
In response, City twice went close through trialist Daniel Pybus, the former Sunderland midfielder firing narrowly wide of Craig MacGillivray’s near post on both occasions with efforts from outside the box.
Walsall took the lead through Makris in the nineteenth minute when the attacker latched onto a headed clearance from King to volley home from the edge of the box.
City tried to react quickly, but Saddlers defender Sam Tonks was on hand to make a vital clearance as Casey Taglione looked to fire a shot in from close range following Kwame Boateng’s ball across the six yard box.
Walsall were awarded a penalty shortly before the half hour mark when referee Mr Hunt spotted a Bradford hand make contact with the ball from a George Dobson corner.
Franck Moussa took responsibility for the kick but Cracknell guessed correctly, diving low to his right to push the shot around the post.
Scott Laird looked to threaten from the resulting Dobson corner but his powerful header was straight at Cracknell.
Devine warmed the hands of MacGillivray with a rising drive after a powerful run forward later in the half but the Saddlers remained in front at the break.
The Bantams introduced apprentice defender Alex Laird into the action before the restart, with City moving to a back three as a result.
Heavy rain during the interval made conditions increasingly tricky on an already muddy surface.
Following his two earlier efforts in the first period though, Pybus began the second half by testing MacGillivray with a rising drive from just outside the box.
Devine also forced the Saddlers shot-stopper into action when he fired in a low shot from the edge of the area twenty minutes into the half that MacGillivray had to tip around the post.
At the other end, Will Randall’s cross for Walsall just minutes later made its way through to Scott Laird in the box but the experienced defender’s shot was pushed away by Cracknell.
As City looked for a way back into the contest, both Penney and Hudson fired over with powerful drives.
After being on hand to tee up Walsall’s previous meaningful chance in the game, Randall found himself on the receiving end of a Jordan Sangha pass fifteen minutes from time.
His forceful drive from inside the box was well struck but Cracknell was equal to the effort, pushing the ball behind via a strong save.
With time running out, Boateng’s pass deep inside the box looked to have played Devine through but the midfielder was denied by a well-timed tackle from Tonks.
Walsall nearly finished off the game two minutes from the end of normal time when substitutes Lezion Cela and Cameron Peters combined.
Cela played Peters through on goal from a Walsall counter-attack but Cracknell was out quickly to make the save.
Cela curled for goal after picking up the loose ball just seconds later but the effort from just outside the box flew narrowly past Cracknell’s far post.
City twice forced goalmouth scrambles in the home penalty area in the last knockings of the game but they were unable to quite find a way back into the match.
CITY line up:
1. Joe Cracknell
2. Jacob Hanson
3. Sam Wright
4. Kwame Boateng
5. Kevin Toner
6. James King (c)
7. Ellis Hudson
8. Daniel Pybus
9. Casey Taglione
10. Daniel Devine
11. Matthew Penney
12. George Sykes-Kenworthy (GK)
14. Alex Laird
15. Tom Windle
16. Neil Patience
Laird for Wright (46)