Names suggest themselves as pre-season continues with City win over Park Avenue

Having already established that beating teams way above you is meaningless one wonders how defeating the local non-league side should be viewed following Bradford City’s 2-0 win over Park Avenue.

The Bantams bested their City rivals with two second half goals and a clean sheet that made strong cases for two of the trialists who are looking to make the step up from the Avenue level to League Two.

The first half saw the Barber from Bamber Bridge Steve Williams look impressive at the heart of a defence alongside Grant Smith in a side led up front and as captain by Peter Thorne. Thorne’s partnership with Gareth Evans looked promising with the new young striker linking up well with the senior man climaxing late on in the half when a move that featured the thrusting play of Joe Colbeck – Colbeck is coming back to form – and a strong header that from the skipper which keeper Steve Dickinson did well to save.

Nevertheless more of the play seemed to be given to the back and to Williams who looked strong. That Williams and his defensive partners were involved so much – and that City broke down the right often and the centre and left less so – was down to a performance from the central two midfielders Jordan Hadfield and Lee Bullock which did not control the game well enough.

Which is not to say that City were overrun but that to win games at League Two and above is to win midfield battles and for the opening three quarters of the first half the Bantams middle two did not.

Half time parity was deserved but on the balance of the second half the Bantams were deserved winners – although of course that does not mean anything – following the entry of James Hanson who has gone a long way to securing himself a move from Guiseley to Bradford City.

Within a minute of the re-start Hanson had risen to head long pass into the path of Michael Boulding who took the ball and slotted home with confidence. Five minutes later a free kick was centred and Hanson – who scored two against Avenue on New Years Day last season – headed home firmly.

Boulding and Hanson could have both had more and Dickinson kept the score down as the Bantams middle two of former Huddersfield Town man Andy Holdsworth and Lewes young – and tanned – midfielder Joe Keehan grabbed the game.

The Bantams kept the game on the whole in the Avenue half although some late flurries forward saw keeper Alan Mannus – a keeper who had an unsettling tendency to punch – called into make a single save and watch a few go wide. Former City man Harpel Singh was ineffectual as ever on the left flank. Simon Ainge – who snuck out of City in recent months – was on the bench.

Hanson won aerial battles for the evening and Zesh Rehman and Matthew Clarke looked solid with a special note for Louis Horne who continues to look able at left back. Keehan was especially impressive but joins a list of midfielders trying out for the number four shirt. Keehan, Holdsworth, Hadfield, James O’Brien. Pre-season is for sorting such things out.

In Williams and Hanson it would seem that two names are suggesting themselves already.

City visit Bradford as pre-season continues

The Wool City Derby is not what it once was. This former Football League clash is pre-season for both clubs now and, despite the odd fall out over a loan player, it is a fixture on the calendars.

City tend to take the first team to Avenue and last year won through an imperious display by Paul McLaren. This year others look to make a mark.

Chief of these being Alan Mannus the goalkeeper who was bored against Burnley and will hope to have the scope to impress.

The same is true all over the field where the Premiership newbies were tamed but some players were not able to catch the eye.

One who did was Steve Williams who has come from being the barber of Banner Bridge to slotting in well next to Matthew Clarke. It is worth noting that scrapping at grounds like Avenue is part and parcel of Williams career to date (and for that matter also impressive James Hanson) while the likes of Jonathan Bateson and James O’Brien are used to big league reserve football. How well all can adapt to the low key is perhaps the theme of this game.

Fitness is built-up of course and Stuart McCall will look at his formation having played an enterprising game for forty five minutes on Saturday before shutting down with Jordan Hadfield busily impressive.

These men looking for contracts have an inside track to a team which having moved on high earners can look to sign players, should they be needed.

For Avenue’s part City seem on the whole welcomed to Horsfield Stadium. Rivalry aside most would love to see both clubs doing better to reverse what is a staggering downturn in West Yorkshire football in long, medium and with the seeming loss of Farsley Celtic short term.

How does one put the Wool City Derby back on the Football League calendar? One can only guess.

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