2 (Marshall 22, Hiwula 45)Bradford City
Saturday 7th January 2017 | Sky Bet League One | The Northern Commercials Stadium
The Bantams recorded a second victory in a week with a good win against lowly Chesterfield at the Northern Commercials Stadium. On a day that Alex Jones made his club debut, it was Mark Marshall and Jordy Hiwula who took the headlines again with goals that proved decisive. Marshall found the net with a low drive into the bottom corner midway through the first half before Hiwula was set-up by Josh Cullen to score just before the break.
City started the game at a good tempo against a side who had won just once on their travels all season going into this one. Mark Marshall was the first to come close; after being teed up neatly by Timothee Dieng following Tony McMahon’s free kick into the box, Monday’s Man of the Match curled a left-footed shot a yard or so over the bar.
After a clash of heads between Jordy Hiwula and Ian Evatt, City were given the chance to whip a free kick into the box after the veteran Chesterfield defender’s challenge on the City forward was deemed unfair. McMahon delivered the cross and Nathaniel Knight-Percival couldn’t take a big opportunity by turning the ball in at the far post - a huge let off for Danny Wilson’s men.
Evatt had Chesterfield’s second chance of the afternoon and it came from a set-piece shortly after Rai Simons had gone close. After Gary Liddle had won the corner, Jon Nolan delivered a teaser into the box before the former Blackpool man saw a looping header towards goal held onto by another former Blackpool man in the shape of Colin Doyle who held assuringly.
Marshall was the instigator in a superb second half turn-around at Northampton at the start of the week and he got himself on the scoresheet once again to give City the lead. After receiving the ball on the right hand side of the penalty area, he tried a shot that made it’s way through the crowd and into the bottom corner, perhaps deceiving an unsighted Ryan Fulton.
It was all City at this stage, attacking the Kop in the first half after losing the pre-match toss and being switched around by Spireites skipper Liddle and Meredith went close with an angled drive before Alex Jones went down in search of a penalty. Cullen’s cross was headed downwards by Romain Vincelot and the new signing was sent tumbling, however referee Trevor Kettle waved the appeal away.
After almost turning Reece Mitchell’s cross towards goal, Ched Evans has his first real sight of goal moments later and he came agonisingly close to levelling the scores. Being teed up by Liddle, the Welshman let the ball run across his body before seeing a low drive from 15 yards clip the outside of the post to let City off the hook.
After Josh Cullen had engineered some space to test Fulton from the edge of the box, Evans went close to getting Chesterfield level again a few moments later. Liam O’Neil hooked a hopeful cross into the box and the former Sheffield United man rose above Vincelot to connect with a powerful header which went narrowly wide of the target.
Before the break there was still time for Fulton to be tested on a couple of occasions. Marshall, clearly brimming with confidence, cut inside O’Neil and saw a low drive held onto by the Liverpool loanee stopper when it looked like the ball may sneak in at the near post. McMahon then saw an audacious volley from just inside the box held onto well as City headed into the interval in complete control of the game.
The first chance of the second half belonged to Chesterfield and it was a good opportunity. Evans got the beating of Vincelot down the right-hand side and he got into the box before seeing a hopeful prod from a tight angle blocked importantly before McMahon made an equally important block to thwart Mitchell’s follow-up.
Chesterfield looked the more likely scorers early in the second period and Evans was looking a real threat for the visitors. After being picked out by Dion Donohue, he cut inside McMahon and onto his right foot before seeing a low drive held onto by Doyle.
There was then a moment of controversy involving the dangerous Evans a minute later. He latched onto a ball over the top and got goal side of Knight-Percival to bear down on goal before taking a tumble in the box. If the referee deemed it a foul, Chesterfield would’ve had a penalty and Knight-Percival his marching orders; fortunately he waved the appeal away much to the Spireites’ frustration.
Timothee Dieng saw a speculative shot from 25 yards go a yard or so wide of the target in search of City’s third goal and Hiwula should’ve certainly scored his second of the afternoon with his next chance. Nicky Law picked him out with a superb floated pass; his touch was immaculate but his finish was lacking as the ball went inches wide of the target with most the ground thinking he’d scored.
Conor Wilkinson was introduced as a second half substitute and he came close with a deflected shot from 20 yards before Marshall was denied a sublime goal by some alert goalkeeping. The City winger weaved brilliantly in and out of a number of blue shirts in the box before seeing his shot kept out by Fulton. It would’ve been some goal to wrap things off on what was another impressive display by the City number seven.
Gloss was almost added to the victory by Dieng deep into additional time, his attempted chip was well executed after he’d been picked out by McMahon, but Fulton stood tall to pat the ball down before claiming the ball. It was the last action of the game as City returned to winning ways at home after three successive draws; it’s now fourteen league games without defeat at the Northern Commercials Stadium for Stuart McCall’s men.