Bradford City 1 Peterborough United 0
The Bantams returned to winning ways on their own patch with a narrow and hard-fought success against Peterborough United on Saturday afternoon. It was initially unclear who had netted the winning goal, with James Meredith, Alex Jones and Charlie Wyke all staking a claim after Mark Marshall’s initial shot had caused the danger. It was eventually Jones who was given the match-winner for his second City goal of the season. The gloss was almost added by both Jordy Hiwula and Timothee Dieng late on but it is a big win and one which makes the play-off ambitions look much healthier.
Peterborough started the game on the front foot and a man that continues to be the talked about man at London Road, Marcus Maddison caused problems early on. After robbing Tony McMahon of possession and moving towards the edge of the box, his cross forced a corner before the resulting corner, taken by him was headed away by Rory McArdle with Michael Bostwick looking to attack the ball.
Maddison has an unusual, but often successful free kick-taking technique and his first attempt, after he was fouled by Josh Cullen deflected off the wall and behind for a corner as Grant McCann’s side began to crank up the pressure.
City’s first attempt that looked threatening came through Mark Marshall who came back into the starting team after being an unused substitute during the week days after missing out completely at Port Vale through injury. The City number seven saw an attempt from the edge of the box kept out by Luke McGee before Romain Vincelot’s follow-up failed to cause a problem.
Tony McMahon’s free kick from wide on the left-hand side looked to be heading towards Nathaniel Knight-Percival at the far post, but an important intervention from Andrew Hughes forced a corner. McMahon took the corner and the ball was met by the head of Rory McArdle who flashed an attempt across goal and a yard or so wide of the target.
Paul Taylor was proving a difficult test for McMahon, looking to put City under pressure with threatening runs down the flanks and he saw a half-volley go over the bar after he’d been found by a quickly taken Maddison corner delivery.
The visitors were probably finding themselves a little unlucky to not be ahead after an encouraging start to the game, but they fell behind to Jones' first home goal. Marshall found space in the box and his driving shot towards goal caused a goalmouth scramble.
Jones and Meredith both looked to have scrambled the ball over the line before Wyke made sure by slamming home.
Wyke was credited with the goal over the Club's PA system but referee Mr Brett Huxtable confirmed post-match that Jones had actually been awarded the goal.
Grant McCann’s side still looked a threat despite falling behind and after Michael Smith’s rising drive from 20 yards went a couple of yards over the bar, Maddison produced another one of his free kicks to leave hearts in the mouths for a moment or two. His third of the half in a pretty much identical position to the previous two, he dipped an attempt towards goal but fortunately it hit the side netting.
Peterborough had the first chance of the second half and it was quite a presentable one at that. Hesitancy from Knight-Percival allowed Craig Mackail-Smith to get in behind and into the box, he picked out Tom Nichols on the penalty spot and his attempt was diverted behind for a corner, pretty crucially by McArdle.
City were almost given a huge slice of luck to come close to doubling the lead. Jones’ persistence allowed him the chance to cross low into the six-yard box, the ball was half cut-out by Ryan Tafazolli and Anthony Grant controlled the loose ball in the box. Under pressure, for some reason he decided to run towards his own goal, McGee hesitated and then Grant very nearly ran the ball into his own goal.
The game still hung finely in the balance and as the saying goes, one-nil is a dangerous scoreline. Nichols is United’s leading marksman with 12 goals so far this season and he came a whisker away from notching goal number 13 just after the hour mark. After turning away from Cullen he rocketed a shot from just outside the box which whistled just wide of the post with Colin Doyle rooted to the spot.
Josh Cullen was outstanding on what as we well know were difficult conditions and after Michael Bostwick could only slice James Meredith’s low cross into the path of the West Ham United loanee, he controlled the ball before hammering a shot inches over the bar to let the visitors off the hook for some slightly slack defensive play.
A team mate of Cullen’s at West Ham, Martin Samuelsen came on as a second half substitute and he played his part in creating the visitors’ next opportunity. The Norwegian winger played a pass across the pitch to Maddison in the penalty area and his shot from a tight angle was kept out by Doyle. The resulting corner was taken by Maddison and Bostwick headed over the bar.
Timothee Dieng came off the bench late on for what was to be an impressive cameo and he won the ball brilliantly in the middle of the park to present McMahon with an opportunity; the right-back played a neat one-two with Wyke before slicing a shot wide of the target from roughly 15 yards out.
Dieng initiated that chance and he was on the end of a pass to produce the next chance and it was a pretty gilt-edged one. Latching onto Cullen’s weighted through ball, he got into the box and settled himself, but with plenty of time to make a decision he side-footed a shot narrowly over the bar to leave Peterborough still with a glimmer of hope to get back into the game.
That glimmer of hope looked to become more than that two minutes into four added at the end of the ninety with Maddison’s cross leading to a corner. United stopper Luke McGee marched up the field and into a crowded penalty area but Chris Forrester’s header from the edge of the box dropped comfortably wide to ensure victory for the Bantams.