Issue One of those days…

As told by Luke Lockwood

The Team

Lenny Pidgeley | Richard Eckersley, Rob Kiernan, Luke Oliver, Luke O'Brien | Tom Adeyemi, David Syers, Lee Bullock, Lee Hendrie | James Hanson, Omar Daley | Jason Price, Leon Osborne

Bradford returned to Valley Parade for the first time in November and the first time since their 5-0 victory over Oxford but somehow did not manage to repeat a similar score line against Macclesfield today.

Taylor had opted to go with a 442 formation but as 2 central midfielders, Hendrie and Adeyemi occupied the wide men roles there was an emphasis on the full back being encouraged to attack. With this in mind Richard Eckersley came in to make his debut ahead of the more defensive minded Zesh Rehman. Fit again James Hanson returned in place of Jason Price and Lee Bullock came in for the suspended Tommy Doherty and took on the captain’s armband too.

The resounding win over Oxford seemed to still be fresh in the memory as they began the game attacking with confidence and the decision to recall James Hanson appeared to be well justified as he began winning everything in the air and in doing so also finding a City shirt with his knock downs. The pressure resulted in a couple of early half chances and top scorer David Syers showed his confidence following recent impressive displays attempting a 25 yard half volley that travelled at a high speed unfortunately straight into Hanson’s back.

A further chance from a corner fell to a City shirt in a crowded box but although the effort managed to evade the numerous bodies it was straight at the Macclesfield keeper, Veiga and gave him a relatively simple start to what would be a busy day. Then came the best chance of the early exchanges. Pressure high up the park from James Hanson won him possession down the right hand side and he quickly switched the ball to Syers 20 yards from goals. There were calls from the crowd encouraging Syers to shoot but he kept his composure and patience to wait for the onrushing Luke O’Brien and he played a perfectly waited pass into the path of O’Brien’s run but O’Brien blazed over wasting the chance while one on one.

Despite City’s early pressure there was a hint of nervousness about Bradford’s defending and the young, inexperienced back line possibly missed the leadership qualities of Shane Duff. On a couple of occasions they appeared slow making their way out of the box and lacked a certain calmness in the early stages. This cost them 25 minutes into the match as a poor clearance from Rob Kiernan was deflected into the path of Macclesfield’s Draper. Draper fired the ball low towards goal from the sort of distance you’d be encouraging an opposition player to shoot, however on this occasion the drive found the bottom left hand corner of the goal out of Lenny Pidgeley’s reach. Not exactly the tonic to calm a nervous looking defence! Bradford’s problems nearly double straight from kick off as the defence fell asleep and Macclesfield went through one on one with Pidgeley, but the goalkeeper made himself big and gave the striker little target to aim at forcing him to attempt a chip which drifted over the bar. The defence received a real dressing down from Pidgeley immediately after but it was he who was at fault moments later as he came for a cross which he didn’t make fortunately the Maccelsfield attacker failed to make good contact either and the ball drifted wide.

Injury time possibly saw possibly the chance of the half as a Bradford throw on half way saw Daley turn his man well and surge towards the opposition penalty box. Syers once again showed fantastic energy and must of run 50 yards to keep up with the lightning Jamaican but when receiving a pass from Daley he opted to shoot first time and was only able to scuff it wide from inside the box.

As the half time whistle blew it was difficult to be disappointed with the Bradford performance but easy to be frustrated by the fact they were a goal down. It did feel as though that if they could just find another gear in the second half then they’d come away with a result.

City appeared to do just that starting the second half with a real urgency and a good performance began to turn into a great one. The first opportunity came from a superb Luke Oliver pass perfectly weighted over the defence to Omar Daley. However, Daley failed to bring the ball under control first time which forced him wide and his attempt to square the ball to a free James Hanson is diverted wide by a Macclesfield defender. City though continued to apply the pressure and an almost identical pass once again found a City shirt inside the Macclesfield half, this time it was Syers. His first touch was good and his second equally good as he fired a shot towards the roof of the net. Veiga was equally good though and managed to tip the ball over to keep what was appearing a very fortunate lead for the away side.

Many more chances came and went for the Bantams who were being driven on by a crowd who sensed the equaliser was only a matter of time. The first was a move started by Adeyemi delivering the ball out to the right flank where Eckersley was growing more confident in his attacking duties. Eckersley carried the ball forward before returning it to Adeyemi who had continued his run to the right side of the box. The Norwich loanee though appeared get the ball stuck under his feet a little and took one too many touches as he was forced wide giving him only Veiga at his near post to aim at. Syers had another chance on the edge of the box but this time needed no help from the keeper to put it over the bar, then Daley found his way to the byline and this time managed to find James Hanson’s head only a few yards out but a defender managed to deflect it wide.

You began to sense that the feeling from the crowd was changing from believing it was ‘only a matter of time’ to being certain that it was ‘just one of those days’. Still though City continued to apply the pressure good link up play down the right hand side from Eckersley and Daley found Syers waiting on the edge of the box again but his effort was tame and straight at Veiga. Syers was doing everything but put the ball in the back of the net, as Macclesfield broke away he was in defence to make the important tackle and as City attacked he was right at the forefront of it. The next chance once again came his way meeting a cross from the left this time with his head only to be denied by the cross bar. Hendrie and Hanson both had opportunities to equalise before Syers boundless energy once again found him in the opposition box with only Veiga to beat. His shot looked certain to be curling into the corner only for Veiga to get the slightest of fingertips to it to push it wide.

5 minutes were added on but even if Bradford had begun this game at the start of November and continued playing until today they may have been denied! Their luck was out even the efforts of Pidgeley to sprint up the pitch quicker than Omar Daley for a corner was not enough and Maccelsfield came away with a very fortunate 1-0 victory. The effort and endeavour showed by Taylor’s players made a mockery of any rumours that some players were unhappy playing for the manager and they were greeted with a positive reception from the majority of the crowd.

The sponsors named Eckersley as man of the match and, although he became more confident and threatening as the game wore on, the fact that Syers had been overlooked was almost as astounding as the result itself. Had he managed to convert a couple of his many chances then it would have been almost the perfect performance and the Huddersfield scout in the crowd wouldn’t be returning with a report on Macclesfield’s danger men for the cup but asking sugar daddy Dean Hoyle to open his cheque book once more. For that reason at least we can be grateful he didn’t secure us three points and we can still return to Valley Parade on Tuesday night confident that a similar performance will surely earn us three points against Accrington Stanley.