Bradford City 2 (Dieng 58, McCartan 89)
Bury 2 (Cameron 62, Miller 90+5)
Saturday 10th February 2018 | Sky Bet League One | Northern Commercials Stadium
The Bantams were denied what would have been a much needed three points by a last-gasp George Miller leveller. It was quite an even game throughout and Timothee Dieng gave City the lead just before the hour, connecting with Alex Gilliead's shot to help the ball past Connor Ripley. Nathan Cameron scrambled home an equaliser just minutes later but substitute Shay McCartan restored City's lead with a goal in the penultimate minute of the 90 shortly after Matthew Kilgallon was sent off for a second booking. Just seconds away from holding on for victory though, George Miller headed the ball into the bottom corner to leave the hosts feeling gut-wrenched.
Caretaker Manager Greg Abbott fielded a strong starting line-up particularly with wide-men with Alex Gilliead and Tyrell Robinson returning to the team after a spell on the sidelines with injury. City were almost caught cold though with Bury flying out of the traps quickly; Danny Mayor went close with a low drive which went narrowly wide before George Miller's header went over the bar.
It took City a while to look a threat in the final third of the field and it was Matthew Kilgallon that came inches away from making a connection that would have been telling to give the home team the lead. Tony McMahon delivered a dangerous corner into the box and at full stretch and away from his marker, the experienced central defender couldn't quite reach the ball.
City began to have a spell of control in the game with the scoreline still goalless and Alex Gilliead let Bury off the hook with a rising shot from 20 yards out which sailed over the bar and then McMahon saw an angled drive blocked importantly by Mayor.
Just a few minutes before the break, City had undeniably the best chance of the game up to that point and the opportunity fell to Dominic Poleon. Timothee Dieng's lofted pass over the top put the Bantams forward through on goal and he spurned the chance to score - denied by Connor Ripley who made a brave and important stop.
Before the half-time whistle, Neil Danns and Zeli Ismail had attempts to find the back of the net but the two sides being tied halfway through the fixture was a fair reflection of the game at that point. City rallied after the break and after Dieng's header was held by Ripley and McMahon's free-kick rattled the bar, Dieng have the Bantams the lead.
Alex Gilliead cut inside from the right-hand side and hit a low left-footed drive towards goal; before the ball hand chance to force Ripley into action, Dieng intervened to extend a leg and divert the ball into the back of the net. City had their noses in front
The noses were in front, but unfortunatelt not for long as Bury quickly found an equaliser. On as a substitute, James Hanson's first involvement was to head a Harry Bunn corner towards goal; Gilliead made sure that the ball didn't cross the line but it came loose to Nathan Cameron who scrambled the ball over the line inside a crowded penalty area.
A toss of a coin could quite easily have been an alternative to settling this one it was so very much in the balace with the score at one apiece and McMahon and Bunn had attempts shortly after the Bury equaiser as the game became quite a topsy-turvy encounter.
As tired legs began to settle in, Bury began to look very dangerous on the counter-attack and after George Miller fired a shot just wide after turning away from Matthew Kilgallon, Bunn then saw an angled drive skim the front of the crossbar after he was quickest to react to a half-cleared Danny Mayor cross.
Colin Doyle was making his second appearance since a return from a lengthy spell injured and he made an instinctive low save from Miller shortly afterwards - minutes later pulling off the save of the game to stop Hanson's header from Bunn's cross, finding the top corner. The chance came minutes after City were reduced to ten following Kilgallon's second book and a home win looked unlikely at that stage.
That was until, Shay McCartan showed tremendous workmanship to edge the Bantams ahead in the 89th minute. Nathaniel Knight-Percival, who had come on to fill the gap vacated by Kilgallon, hooked a ball over the top, Greg Leigh failed to deal with it and McCartan nipped in to run through on goal; in a 50-50 with Ripley he was floored but quickly got back to his feet to tap the ball into an empty net.
An uncomfortable five minutes were added on at the end of the 90 allowing Bury to pour forward in search of an equaliser with a man advantage, and with virtually the last kick of the game, Ryan Lowe's side equalised. A ball wasn't cleared and Bunn headed the ball towards the far post for Miller to connect with a header which saw the ball go back across goal and into the bottom corner. Heartbreak for the Bantams who had come so close to victory, but the point meant an end to the torrid run of successive defeats.