The Anointed One

First things first. Bradford City took honours against Burnley in the one all draw at Valley Parade against a strong Burnley side in what was the best pre-season test at Valley Parade since Sam Allardyce stormed out of VP following Wayne Jacobs testimonial with a face on him that said “That mattered”.

Tonight Burnley tried, City tried and City edged it.

Burnley, however, had more class. The gap between the two divisions was there for all to see as Burnley pushed the ball around and controlled it with the kind of ease that City once did but what the Bantams lacked in class they made up in the kind of passionate play that manager Stuart McCall – in charge of his first City game at Valley Parade for seven and a half years – typified.

If not first to the ball then City snapped around the feet McCall is building a team in his own image and at the hub of that McCall seems to have found his number four in the shape of tank like midfielder Paul Evans.

At times Evans is McCall’s McCall to a tee. He harries at everything then tackles hard but fair – most of the time – and like McCall he can move the ball. More short ten yarders in future maybe but with City playing a 433 with Omar Daley and Joe Colbeck on a remit to get down the channels beyond the increasingly impressive Barry Conlon Evans played quarterback hitting balls that will rip apart League Two defences. Evans is not essential for City or for McCall – Craig Bentham can do his job – but with the Welshman having other offers but preferring City one gets the feeling that he could make much more of an impact on results in his second coming than he did in his first.

One hopes McCall gets his man.

Also worth getting would seem to be Australian born midfielder Kyle Nix who buzzed around the midfield of the field next to Evans and Eddie Johnson with a classy touch and an eagerness to impress his former Sheffield United reserve manager McCall. Nix almost won the game for City with a free kick late on that pyjamaed goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly saved impressively in an impressive midfield three which saw Eddie Johnson continue his transformation to a man of the middle with a long channel ball to Joe Colbeck which the winger took in stride and pulled back for Evans to slam in from the right hand side of the box. Two passes over sixty yards and more impressive play from Colbeck that will no doubt be ignored by his detractors.

Not to be ignored was the train sized gap which saw Burnley’s Michael Duff thread a ball behind Mark Bower and in front of Donovan Ricketts for Ade Akinbiyi to turn in for the opener. Defensive communication is the heart of all winning teams and should McCall’s men be celebrating on May this will have been either sorted out on the training ground or no one in League Two will be capable of playing that sort of pass.

The back two of David Wetherall and Mark Bower seemed at home with Paul Heckingbottom’s gradual return at left back and new signing Darren Williams slotting in to the right back role and showing ability to support the forward play coupled with strength at the back and seeming to be a very useful player.

From the bench Tom Harban impressed at right back and striker Luke Medley looked huge but lacked the experience to fill Conlon’s vital role in the set-up McCall is building but most vital in that seems to be a McCall of a player to fill the manager’s shoes. Contract for Paul Evans? Very much so.

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