Match Report 2003-2004

Saturday 23 August, 2003, Division One

Gillingham at Valley Parade

Let Bantams be Bantams

Bradford City 0
Gillingham 1
Hope 0-1

This is the match report that writes itself.

Scratch that. This was the game that played itself. It was mind numbing in its predictability and almost inevitability. Gillingham nick a one nil win after City get most of the game but cannot muster a serious and sustained spell of pressure on goal.

It's so obvious it is pathetic.

The 2-0 win at Cardiff last week is the sort of game that City can do well in this year: away from home, pressure off us and on them, couple of snap shots that get lucky and some superb keeping it is a fantastic way to play when you are at a team that is looking to beat you.

But it does not work at home. Not today and probably not any day.

The Bantams never took the game to Gillingham. Defensively we were too scared of losing a goal to commit enough forward to getting one. This was the Darlington game in re-run.

Nicky Law has two options now. Firstly he can come out and tell the truth. He can say that this is the only way he wants or even knows how to play the game and that while it's limited at home the away wins, like Coventry, Derby and Wolves are what we base the season on and hopefully that will be enough to keep us floating along.

All of which represents such modest aims for a man who has rubbed out every name on his team sheet and started with a blank piece of paper. Most football managers would give limbs to have squads they have assembled themselves yet Law does not seem capable to grasping the metal and sending out teams to win games.

Leading us to Nicky Law's second option: To change things.

Defensive counter-attacking football is what we should do on Tuesday night at West Ham and like at Cardiff it could well work in the week, but he needs to craft a more balanced and more attacking team to win games like this.

It is a midfield issue once more in that the middle of the field for City is so woefully unbalanced. It needs rethinking and key to that thinking should be that Andy Gray is should either be told to play on the right flank or not used at all. Gray's wandering inside, be it based on Law's instructions or the players mindset, is counter-productive.

The midfield gets choked and City lack an option on the right hand side crushing the game into the middle leaving Paul Evans and today, Simon Francis, in a morass of players looking for a pass to make when no claret and amber shirts are available.

Personally in the role of right winger to balance Lewis Emanuel's excellent left sided midfield role, I would choose Ben Muirhead over Gray. Muirhead has impressed since he came to the club both attacking and tracking back to defend. He is worth the chance and Gray needs to go back up front.

For the record Chris Hope rose in the 77th minute to head home a corner after Gillingham had rode their luck at times. They did to us what we did to Cardiff and good luck to them.

From the Bantam point of view though Nicky Law needs to take some of the restrictions of the side. He needs to stop being so scared of losing that he goes out to win.

Man of the Match
Wayne Jacobs

Still looks the surest bet in the Bradford City team.

Bradford City Team
  • Jason Gavin for Heckingbottom
  • Ben Muirhead for Emanuel
  • Robert Wolleaston for Windass