Cheltenham Town 0 Bradford City 1
Conditions were always going to be tough for a Bradford City side that like to keep the ball on the deck, playing on a surface clearly wounded by the recent weather conditions. They may be struggling at the foot of League Two at the moment, but Cheltenham were a match for City in the first half and had the first chance of the game inside the opening minute.
Billy Waters delivered a cross from the left-hand side and the ball broke loose to Jack Barthram just outside the penalty area and he took control before lashing a half-volley over the bar.
Mark Marshall has been a bright spark for the Bantams, particularly so in recent weeks and he had an impressive first half display; his first attempt of the evening from 20 yards was held onto onto low to his left back Town stopper Calum Kitscha.
City were having the majority of possession but Gary Johnson’s side looked a menace on the counter attack. Harry Pell had the home side’s next couple of attempts but he couldn’t find the target, glancing a header wide of the mark before firing an optimistic drive over the bar from distance.
There wasn’t much to write home about in the first half, but Marshall sure had the beating of Jordan Cranston and Daniel O’Shaughnessy on Cheltenham’s left-hand side and on this occasion he did well to deliver a cross to the far post but James Hanson on the stretch, couldn’t get his header on target.
A thunderous Stephen Darby challenge on Barthram epitomised the type of game that this one was and probably had to be; his cross from the left hand side was glanced wide by Hanson with the ball perhaps looking to land more favourably onto the head of Romain Vincelot.
City came close to taking the lead in the latter stages of the half with Kitscha twice having to be at his most alert. First he kept out Marshall’s angled drive before reacting quickly to prevent Daniel Devine’s follow-up from finding the back of the net.
Vincelot and Tony McMahon saw hopeful attempts from distance go wide of the target, but it was Cheltenham who really should have taken the lead early in the second period. Diego De Girolamo actually had the ball in the net after a goalmouth scramble a couple of minutes into the second half, but he was denied by the linesman’s flag who had spotted a foul in the build up.
The former Italian youth international forward produced a mazy run and cross to pick out Waters in the box and he stepped away from Matthew Kilgallon before forcing a really strong save from Sattelmaier. From James Rowe’s resulting corner, the ball came loose to Danny Wright and his placed shot from the edge of the box went so close to finding the top corner.
The game began to open up and chances began form at both ends of the pitch; Timothee Dieng saw a low drive go inches wide of the target after he’d been picked out in a pocket of space inside the 18 yard box by Kilgallon and then De Girolamo saw a fierce low drive from 20 yards out go a couple of yards wide of the mark.
With the next real opportunity in the game, City took the lead probably slightly against the run of play in truth. McMahon delivered a free kick into the box from the right hand side and the ball was knocked down by the head of Hanson; Rory McArdle tried to pounce inside the six-yard box before Cheltenham hesitation allowed Jordy Hiwula to prod the ball home.
Waters playing in the hole for Cheltenham proved to be quite a nuisance in the second half but he failed to truly test Sattelmaier with a tame shot from just inside the box after being picked out by Wright. The Town man had another opportunity after Emmanuel Onariase has picked the pocket of Devine but he smashed the ball against the crossbar from 20 yards out.
Billy Clarke came on as a late substitution for his first appearance since mid-November and he got into the ball and laid the ball on a plate for Devine but the academy graduate midfielder saw his shot from 15 yards blocked heroically by Daniel O’Shaughnessy.
One of Cheltenham’s late substitutes Dan Holman had an attempt of his own as the home side looked to try and batter the wall down with a barrage of long balls, but after turning away from Josh Cullen he dragged his shot wide of the target as City went on to ensure more progress in the Checkatrade Trophy.