Match Report 2003-2004

Saturday 16 August, 2003, Division One

Cardiff City away

So what does Nicky Law know about tactics?

Cardiff City 0
Bradford City 2
Gray 0-1
Emanuel 0-2

Tactics has been the name of the game this week. Specifically does Nicky Law know what they are?

Like most City debates any decent form of argument ended quick with a slanging match starting between the pro and anti brigades with no real winner emerging. "Law is an idiot" called one side after losing to Darlington, "Give him time" said the others, "What he lacks in tactics he makes up for in other stuff."

This 2-0 win at the home of one of the more fancied club vs was Nicky Law's statement on the subject. He sent out his usual sort of side battle with the odd tweak. Tom Kearney sat out with Andy Gray moving inside and Ben Muirhead coming in. Michael Standing made the bench, a suggestion that Law is worried about the lack of creation in the midfield.

So what can Law's men do? Six minutes in and we got the answer, or the start of it at least. Dean Windass took a ball on the chest showing that he can do target man as well or better than Ashley Ward ever did. The Windass chest knocked the ball back to Andy Gray who got his goal tally going for the season wit ha lashed shot from thirty odd yards? Good goal? You betcha.

So what can Law's men do? They can defend. They can defend like Mark Paston's goal is under siege, which for the remainder of the game it was. Bobby Moore, he is an English icon and he was a defender yet people do not seem to appriciate this side of the game anymore. City dug in and were not to be moved or beaten by the home side driven on by a fanatical support. If I had ever seen Bobby Moore as a kid I don't think he could have been any better than Simon Francis who is for me the best young player in City's history and yes I am including Stuart McCall in that list.

Mark Paston is not to bad either. God knows how the Bantams manage to find them: Paston, Alan Combe, Mark Schwartzer, Matt Clarke and on and on. Perhaps we only noticed the errors that Aidan Davison used to make cause the general level of goalkeeping at this club over the last decade has been so high. Paston is good in the same way that Schwartzer was good and although Alan Combe must be one moody Scot, Passie is the man in possession and will not lose that playing like this.

So what can Law's men do? They can counter-attack with pace. Ben Muirhead and Michael Branch have pace to spare and it spreads through the team. Dean Windass looks benefits in the same way Alan Shearer does at Newcastle and uses it well too, even lumbering Andy Gray picked up the pace as the Bantam runners stretched the blue back four's legs.

So what can Law's men do? Judging from the twenty five yarder that left the boot of Lewis Emanuel and sealed the Bantams win they can shoot from distance. Mani came on to sure up the defensive midfield for Muirhead and his goal was quality. Having huffed and puffed for seventy minutes Cardiff were never getting two goals and so it proved thanks to another Paston save at the end and some excellent defending from Wayne Jacobs.

So what do we know? Did Nicky Law pull a tactical masterstroke? Not really. His team played like the one that lost to Darlington although had more passion but the onus was on Cardiff today, not City and so the Bantams played the soak up and counter-strike game which we are getting good at, in fact if truth be told it is probably the only way that we can play in this division and Nicky Law is always going to stick to his strengths.

Which is probably what he would have said on Tuesday afternoon before Darlington.

Man of the Match
Mark Paston

Great teams have goalkeepers as good as Mark Paston.

Bradford City Team
  • Lewis Emanuel for Muirhead