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Match Reports

AKPAN EARNS CITY A SHARE OF THE SPOILS AT BURTON

26 January 2019

Hope Akpan's first goal of the season helped to earn David Hopkin's battling Bantams a deserved share of the spoils at Burton Albion this Saturday.

The Brewers had held the lead at the interval following Luca Akins' opener in first half injury time, but City fought back on level terms when Akpan fired home inside the box just over twenty minutes from the end.

The midfielder, who featured for Burton last season, could have actually been City's match-winner in the final minutes but his goal-bound header from sub Luca Colville's cross was superbly tipped behind by home shot-stopper Bradley Collins.

Finishing the match strongly, the Bantams had other chances to snatch the three points following Akpan's leveller.

Lewis O'Brien fired narrowly wide from a Connor Wood cross and then saw a good penalty shout turned down less than two minutes later after appearing to be nudged in the back in the box by Josh Clarke.

For City's opponents, Burton had a Liam Boyce effort cleared off the line by Akpan in the first half, while Scott Fraser and David Templeton both hit the woodwork after the break.

Following last Saturday's disappointing loss at home to Southend United, Hopkin made two changes to his starting XI for the visit to the Pirelli Stadium.

Fresh from joining the club in midweek, debutant Calum Woods was joined in City's side by the recalled Wood.

As a result of the alterations, Ryan McGowan and George Miller moved down to the bench.

Although the heavy Southend defeat last weekend was naturally a blow for City's hopes, there was certainly no hangover at Burton from the Bantams, who more than held their own in the early stages.

Despite John Brayford headed narrowly wide from a Jamie Allen free-kick eight minutes in, it was City who enjoyed most of the possession in threatening positions.

Anthony O'Connor fired wide with a strike from just outside the box, Akpan curled over with a free-kick and David Ball lofted an effort wide, as the Bantams looked to move on from back-to-back league defeats in January.

Ball was involved again later in the half when he robbed Reece Hutchinson of possession before driving into the box.

Ball turned back onto his left foot and went for goal, but his angled drive was blocked by the diving frame of Jake Buxton.

City actually had the ball in the net seconds later, but Jack Payne was flagged offside after the attacker had headed home from close range following a parried drive from Akpan.

Payne was involved again on the half hour point when a rushed clearance from outside his own box by Collins landed at the attacker's feet.

With Collins completely out of his box, Payne went for goal but his lobbed effort was rushed due to the close attentions of Brayford and the shot bounced wide.

Arguably City's best opening of the first period came nine minutes later from a Ball right-wing cross into the box.

Doyle connected with the delivery and powerfully volleyed for goal but his fierce strike was somehow tipped over by Collins.

In fairness to City's hosts, it wasn't all one-way traffic, and Nigel Clough's men certainly did grow into as the half progressed.

After narrowly firing over the bar from just outside the box from an earlier effort, Akins warmed the hands of Richard O'Donnell with a low drive from a similar distance.

A short corner routine involved Akins and team-mate Fraser soon after then nearly engineered an opening for the Brewers.

The ball eventually landed at the feet of Boyce deep inside the box.

The striker's low angled drive beat the dive of O'Donnell, but Akpan was crucially in position to hack clear off the line.

That intervention from Akpan looked set to take City into the break level-pegging. Sadly though, there was still time in the half for Burton to break-through.

After surging forward deep into City's half, Brayford whipped over a delightful delivery from the right into the box and the cross found Akins in space in the middle.

Akins connected with the delivery and his close range downward header found the goal past a helpless O'Donnell.

Boosted by that goal on the stroke of half time, Burton looked to try and finish the game off with a strong start after the interval.

Less than two minutes had passed in the second period when Burton hit the woodwork for the first time.

Akins' low into the middle was cleared by O'Connor as far out as Fraser around the edge of the box.

Fraser struck for goal with a swerving effort that O'Donnell managed to help over via the crossbar.

Half time sub Marcus Harness' cross was then headed across goal by Jamie Allen from another Burton attack shortly afterwards, while Boyce saw a shot blocked behind just before the hour mark.

City hung on in, though, and they slowly began to crawl their way back into the encounter.

After winning a couple of corners, Hopkin's men eventually made one pay off for them twenty-two minutes from the end.

After seeing his initial delivery cleared, Payne fired the ball low into the middle again and, after a brief scramble, Akpan was on hand to fire home.

With City's tails up, Akpan's goal began a purple patch for the Bantams.

Hopkin's side had a spring in their step at this point as they looked to completed the turnaround.

A Bantams counter-attack less than a minute later saw Payne set-up Doyle for a shooting chance, but the Irishman's effort from inside the box was blocked by Buxton.

From City's next attack, the Bantams threatened again.

Wood's cross from the left found the run of O'Brien in the box.

The midfielder fired forwards left-footed but the effort beat the out-stretched boot of Payne before bouncing narrowly past the post.

As City kept the pressure on, O'Brien was then involved in a very creditable penalty shout shortly afterwards.

Ball's long pass over the top looked set to find the midfielder in the box and with the chance to potentially shoot for goal.

As O'Brien went to chest the ball down, however, he appeared to be pushed in the back by Clarke.

The City bench screamed for a spot-kick but referee Trevor Kettle waved away any penalty appeals.

With the game moving into the final ten minutes of normal time, Burton looked to respond from the Bantams' period of pressure.

Boyce had a powerful strike from inside the box held by O'Donnell, while Akins fired not too far over the bar from outside the area soon after.

In the eighty-eighth minute Burton nearly edged their noses in front once again through Templeton.

The second half replacement's low drive from around the edge of the box bounced off the base of O'Donnell's far post.

Burton kept the pressure on following Templeton's near miss, but O'Donnell saved with his legs from a Kieran Wallace strike seconds later.

Six minutes of injury time was signalled as the clock ticked past ninety - giving both sides the chance for one last push for victory.

Credit to Hopkin's men, it was actually City on the front-foot and pushing for the win in the final stages.

In the third of those six added minutes, the Bantams actually thought they had won it when sub Luca Colville lofted the ball into the box from the right.

Akpan connected with the cross and headed powerfully towards the bottom corner, but Collins showed great reflexes to push the effort behind.

This Saturday's final result for the Bantams leaves them three points behind eighteenth-placed Shrewsbury Town ahead of the Shrews' visit to the Northern Commercials Stadium on Tuesday night.

 

Match line-ups, action and stats from the Burton fixture can be found via the Match Centre - HERE.


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