1Bradford City(Meredith 60)
Saturday 21st January 2017 | Sky Bet League One | The Northern Commercials Stadium at Valley Parade
The Bantams fought until the end but were left having to accept a share of the spoils against an in-form Millwall side who continue their hunt for a place in the play-offs. Both sides hit the woodwork in the first half but it was that all too familiar name, Lee Gregory who opened the scoring for the visitors early in the second half. It wasn’t long before James Meredith’s equaliser and Stuart McCall’s men put the Londonders under real spells of pressure in the latter stages but just could not find that winning goal.
Millwall came to West Yorkshire in a good vein of form and unbeaten since being turned over at Scunthorpe United before Christmas. It was the visitors who threatened first in the game and a Nicky Law intervention to prevent Fred Onyedinma’s cross from finding Lee Gregory, caused a flurry of corners. The nearest Millwall came from their flurry of corners was from a Steve Morison volley which had to be pushed over by Colin Doyle after the experienced frontman had connected with Shaun Williams’ corner.
The first clear opportunity to test Jordan Archer in the Millwall goal came after Mark Marshall was fouled, 25 yards from goal. Tony McMahon and Josh Cullen stood over the ball and the latter stepped up to strike a free kick which was relatively tame and held onto by the Lions stopper.
It took about 20 minutes for it to become clear that City were going to have most of the possession and Marshall, brimming with confidence from his recent displays, glided away from Byron Webster and into a pocket of space before seeing a shot from distance held onto by Archer. Stuart McCall’s men and in particular Marshall looked intent on trying their luck from distance but Archer had not yet been tested up to this point.
Alex Jones kept his place in the team for hid third successive league start for his new employers and his first sight of goal came from a chance that he engineered for himself. After receiving the ball just outside the area from Law, he turned and charged into the box before seeing an eventual attempt hit the side netting after being forced wide slightly by a pack of Millwall defenders.
A period of sloppy play from City allowed Millwall to sense an opportunity and they were denied twice in quick succession by the combination of Doyle and the woodwork. From Williams’ corner, the towering debutant central defender Jake Cooper saw a header tipped onto the bar by Doyle before the City stopper reacted quickly to push Gregory’s follow-up onto the bar too. Great goalkeeping by the big Irishman.
Fred Onyedinma caused City some problems in the latter stages of the first half and he surged forward, drawing in a couple of defenders before squaring the ball to Williams central to goal and within shooting distance; the Millwall central midfielder connected cleanly but could only see his attempt skid a yard or two wide of the target.
Before the half was out, there was time for Marshall to show a trick and force a corner and for substitute Timothee Dieng to come close with a superb glancing header that clipped the bar with Archer looking like getting nowhere near the Frenchman’s attempt. Dieng had been brought on after half an hour for Matthew Kilgallon who had seemingly suffered a nasty looking shoulder injury.
City were a little slow out of the traps early in the second half and fell behind before long. Shaun Cummings delivered a cross into the box which was helped on by Aiden O'Brien into the path of Gregory; he twisted and turned and carved open half a yard of space to squeeze the ball past Doyle from a tight angle to give Neil Harris’ side the lead.
Nicky Law spurned an opportunity to level things up soon afterwards before James Meredith did so. Marshall was again one of the stand out performers and his low cross beat the low grasp of Archer before Meredith was in the right place at the right time to scramble the ball in at the far post and bring the scores even once again.
City were on top at this stage and Josh Cullen saw a shot from 20 yards held onto by Archer before Gregory came a couple of inches away from connecting with Tony Craig’s knock-down following Williams’ corner down the other end of the field.
Cullen was suddenly heavily involved in trying to get the next goal, coming up against the arch-rivals of his parent club West Ham United but he saw a wayward shot from outside the box go over the bar before seeing a side-footer held onto once again by Archer after Webster couldn’t fully clear Meredith’s cross.
The match winner from mid-week, Jordy Hiwula was introduced as a substitute in the latter stages and he almost put City in front. The in-form forward opted to go on a solo-run down the left hand channel and he got into the box before seeing a shot kept out in a rather unorthodox fashion by Archer who had certainly been the busier of the two goalkeepers in the second half.
The Kop played their part in trying to get City over the line but time ran out for the Bantams as they were left to settle for a hard-fought point. Stuart McCall’s men fell behind early in the second half but came back strong to try and get the victory. Cup duties next now for City who travel to Oxford United on Tuesday evening in the Checkatrade Trophy Quarter-Final.