Bradford City 3 (Wyke 13, 62, 73)
Bristol Rovers 1 (Bodin 81)
The Bantams recorded a convincing victory on Saturday afternoon in front of the Sky cameras and Charlie Wyke grabbed the headlines with a superb hat-trick. It was a positive performance by City to bounce back from last weekend’s two-point throw away at Walsall and Stuart McCall’s side were very much the deserved winners on the day.
City started the game at a great tempo but it was actually Rovers who had the first chance of the game. Billy Bodin has been in excellent form and he conjured up an opening for himself inside sixty seconds before hammering a left-footed shot narrowly wide of the target to leave the hosts breathing a sigh of relief.
The first City chance came a couple of minutes later; Nicky Law drove into the box to leave the Rovers back-line worrying a little, and the ball broke to Alex Gilliead who skewed a shot over the bar in a promising position.
Romain Vincelot then went mightily close to scoring the opening goal. The Frenchman on his return to league action jumped the highest to connect with a header at the near post and the ball went wide of the target with sections of the home support believing the ball had gone in.
The first Bradford goal was coming and it was Charlie Wyke who scored it just before the quarter-hour mark. Tony McMahon’s corner was headed down into space by Vincelot and there was Wyke in the right place at the right time to guide the ball past Rovers stopper Sam Slocombe and into the back of the net.
Nicky Law dragged a shot wide of the target with City truly in the ascendancy and then Dominic Poleon latched onto a loose Lee Brown pass to carve open an opportunity for himself. He beat Tom Broadbent to the loose ball but the defender ran alongside him with Poleon’s eventual shot not doing enough to sternly test Slocombe.
Law was having an admirable display for the Bantams and he went close to scoring again, but was left frustrated to see his looping header land on the roof of the net after he had connected with McMahon’s corner at the near post.
Poleon stung the palms of Slocombe with a fierce drive from distance which left the latter having to claim the ball at the second time of asking, and on the stroke of half-time Rovers skipper Ollie Clarke saw a shot from an angle on the edge of the box fizz marginally wide of the post with Colin Doyle at full stretch.
Wyke looked hungry for more goals and he went close to getting his second early in the second period. Vincelot’s excellent outside of the foot pass was aimed towards Gilliead in the box and the ball came free to the big number nine who saw an instinctive first time attempt go narrowly wide of the post.
Rovers looked a threat on the counter attack particularly through the duo of Ellis Harrison and Billy Bodin, but with the visitors carrying that threat, City still went in thorough search of the next goal. Law should have done better with a very presentable opportunity just before the hour mark; Gilliead got into the box and found Wyke to set the ball to him but his attempt was tame when the opposition goal could well have been breached again.
Just after the hour mark, it was breached again. Tony McMahon’s delivery from a corner was on the money and Wyke peeled off his marker for an unchallenged header which meant only one outcome, his and City’s second of the afternoon. The uphill battle for Rovers looked even more difficult.
Bodin always looked to get the ball onto his favoured left-foot and he conjured up an opportunity down the other end shortly afterwards. He successfully worked the ball onto his left foot and whipped a superb shot from 20 yards which went about half a yard over the bar.
Four minutes before going off in place of Alex Jones, Wyke scored his third to complete a hat-trick. Jake Reeves did tremendously well to carve open an opportunity by moving into a crossing position and his left-footed delivery wasn’t claimed by Slocombe to leave Wyke with the simplest of finishes at the far post.
Vincelot was denied a goal of his own shortly afterwards and then with just nine minutes on the clock, Rovers pulled a goal back. Substitute did excellently to move quickly forward down the left-hand side before seeing a curling shot from the edge of the box come back off the inside of the far post, and the ball came free to Bodin for a tap in. The visitors with a potential lifeline?
City substitute Omari Patrick put in a bright cameo in the latter stages and he went close with a first time shot that went just over the bar after he’d connected with Gilliead’s cut-back inside the penalty area. McMahon too went close in injury time with a free kick which had Slocombe worried but three goals was enough this time round to secure a victory and three points.