Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Match Reports

BANTAMS BATTLE THE ELEMENTS TO CLAIM ALDERSHOT REPLAY

10 November 2018

David Hopkin's Bantams battled against extremely difficult pitch conditions and stubborn home resistance to claim a 1-1 draw at Aldershot Town and a place in Monday's Emirates FA Cup second round draw.

With persistent and heavy rain showers making the playing surface a serious challenge for the most part in the first round encounter, Aldershot took a twelfth-minute lead when George Fowler's effort from a corner deflected in off Ryan McGowan.

Despite the on-going downpours meaning that the ball wasn't able to roll properly in large sections of the pitch, though, City showed commendable resolve to hit back strongly following Fowler's opener.

After Eoin Doyle and Connor Wood had seen first half efforts well saved by home 'keeper Will Mannion, the Bantams finally broke through just under twenty minutes from the end when Nathaniel Knight-Percival headed home from a Jack Payne corner.

City's FA Cup replay with Aldershot is now scheduled for Tuesday 20 November 2018 - kick off 7:45pm - at the Northern Commercials Stadium.

With Adam Chicksen suspended, Wood was one of two players brought back into Hopkin's starting XI for the cup tie at the EBB Stadium.

Payne was the other player recalled by Hopkin, with Josh Wright moving down to the bench.

He was joined there by the duo of fit-again fellow midfielders Jim O'Brien and Daniel Devine.

Following heavy showers throughout the day, including an absolute deluge an hour or so before kick off, the pitch was already beginning to hold water as the two teams began their warm-ups.

Ahead of kick off, and with Remembrance Sunday just around the corner, a number of former service men joined the Bantams and Aldershot pre-match as they made their way out the tunnel.

There was also a touching rendition of the 'Last Post' by an army bugler as those within the stadium fell silent to pay their respects to the fallen.

Once the action got underway, it quickly became clear that the sodden pitch was going to cause problems.

As early as the third minute Adam McDonnell looked to burst forward into City's penalty area, but his progress was halted as the ball held up in the water on the pitch.

During a strong opening to the contest, Aldershot nearly took the lead in the eighth minute through Matt McClure.

McClure turned away from two City defenders in the box to leave him with only Richard O'Donnell to beat, but his close range strike whistled just past the far post.

The Shots did find an opening goal four minutes later, however, when McClure's deflected drive won the hosts a corner.

Josh Barrett's delivery found Fowler in space over by the far post and the defender's effort deflected in off McGowan past a helpless O'Donnell.

The goal was understandably a blow to the Bantams but, to their credit, their response was almost instant.

The hard-working Lewis O'Brien saw a drive held by Mannion soon after, with Doyle also denied by the home custodian in the Bantams' next attack.

A drive from just outside the box from Hope Akpan deflected into the path of Doyle in space inside the area.

The Irishman shot first time but his effort was repelled by the legs of Mannion.

At the other end, McDonnell warmed O'Donnell's hands with a strike from outside the box, but it was City who were creating virtually all the main chances as the half progressed.

Attacking up the noticeable slope at the EBB Stadium, Hopkin's side had an effort from outside the box from Wood pushed away by Mannion.

Seconds later, Payne's ball to the far post picked out Anthony O'Connor but his effort across goal was blocked away by Marvin McCoy.

With the rain continuing to fall consistently throughout the game, playing with the ball at your feet was proving difficult, but it didn't stop David Ball driving into the box with purpose midway through the half.

The attacker forced his way into the area but his drive for goal was deflected up off Fowler and into the gloves of a grateful Mannion.

As the game moved towards the break, McClure forced O'Donnell into a competent save following a shot on the turn from the edge of the box by the attacker.

The Bantams finished the half in positive fashion, and Wood saw a cross-come-shot from the left tipped behind by Mannion.

The rain showed no signs of slowing down as the second period got underway, but match official Paul Marsden was seemingly happy to allow the match to carry on.

The Bantams were now attacking down the slope, though, and into the half with the worst of the wet conditions.

With the water presuambly running down the hill at the ground, the bottom half of the pitch - the end City were attacking into - had a large number of areas in it where it was becoming virtually impossible to play on the floor as the ball was holding up.

Attempts to run with the ball were proving tricky to say the least, and any passes made certainly had to be given a little extra oomph to make sure they got through the water.

Despite the troubling weather, however, City engineered a couple of bright early opportunites after the restart.

Doyle fired low at Mannion following a George Miller lay-off eight minutes into the second period.

Miller was then on the end of City's next meaningful attack when he beat the offside trap to latch onto a Payne through-ball, but the striker could only drag a shot wide of the far post.

As the tie reached the hour mark, O'Donnell was increasingly becoming a spectator - dealing mainly with just the occasion back pass - as City soldiered on against a soaking pitch and hard-working hosts. 

Payne's lofted ball over the top found Doyle in the box but his looping header landed wide.

Ball then had another run into the box, as he did in the first period, but again his effort for goal was blocked away.

The strike would be Ball's last action of the game; the attacker replaced by the returning Jim O'Brien following six weeks out for the midfielder.

After his couple of efforts in the first period, Wood nearly found an equaliser for the Bantams just over twenty minutes from the end.

The defender's right-footed effort from outside the box was spilled by Mannion and the goalkeeper had to reach back to crawl the loose ball off the goal-line.

City's pressure did eventually tell, however, minutes later when the Bantams won a corner after Mannion had tipped over an impressive drive from distance by Lewis O'Brien.

From the resulting Payne corner, Knight-Percival got himself free and the defender powered home a header past a rooted Mannion.

In reply, McDonnell saw a free-kick from roughly twenty-five yards out sail narrowly over soon after.

As the game moved into the final stages, City introduced Daniel Devine and Josh Wright for Akpan and Payne later in the half.

Sadly for the likes of Ball and Payne - both replaced in the second period - conditions just simply weren't suited to their creative style of play.

For Devine, the appearance from the bench for the young midfielder was his first action of the season following a troublesome foot injury.

Devine could have actually been involved in a winning goal for the Bantams five minutes from the end.

Lewis O'Brien's cross from the left was flicked goalwards by Devine but Mannion was able to cling on ahead of a lurking Miller.

Despite being under pressure for large parts of the game, especially in the second period, plucky Aldershot did have one final moment in the game as the match headed into injury time.

McDonnell's cross towards the far post found Scott Rendell in a threatening position but his header was blocked behind by Wood.

From the following home corner, the ball eventually deflected down into the path of Gabriel Osho but the home defender hooked over from a decent position inside the box.

City came back at Aldershot in the three minutes of added on time that followed, with Lewis O'Brien heading at Mannion from a Wright cross.

The young midfielder was then over the ball for the Bantams when they won one last free-kick in the final seconds of the tie.

O'Brien's near post delivery into the box from the right was punched out by Mannion. City kept the ball alive but McGowan saw a effort blocked from inside the box and the final whistle blew moments later.

Following this Saturday's draw, Hopkin's Bantams and Aldershot will now share ball number ten in Monday evening's second round draw.

 

Match line ups, stats and updates from the Aldershot FA Cup tie can be found via our Match Centre - HERE.


Advertisement block