Match Report 2003-2004

Match Report 2003-2004

Saturday 14 September, 2003, Division One

Preson North End at Valley Parade

Five score years ago our fathers brought forth on this football ground a new team...

Bradford City 2
Branch 1-1
Summerbee 2-1
Preson North End 1
Fuller 0-1

From the vantage point of the stands you could not see much of Nicky Law when Nicky Summerbee slotted the winner through the legs of David Lucas in teh Preston North End goal. The manager was still, did not cheer and as Luke Cornwall ran up to celebrate he waved him away. You could not see it but you would guess he had a wry smile on his face.

Nicky Summerbee, a brave signing we said and proof that Law had lost the plot, was the creativity that Law's side had been lacking all season. He freed space and minds with intelligent football that allowed Michael Branch and Dean Windass to get into the game. As debuts go we have seen better and in the cases of the likes of Juanjo there have been so many false dawns but today, and for Law, this could not have been any better.

Law put away the 352 that had crashed to Sunderland and played with his limits, namely a well organised 442 which has never steered Sir Alex Ferguson wrong. Law, always under the microscope, made some curious decisions such as benching Simon Francis and starting Jason Gavin although one must note that the wretched Gavin was significantly better and although he still looks like a man playing in a different back four to David Wetherall, he was better today than two weeks ago.

Gareth Edds was today's player who left his head in the dressing room. In the week Law had suggested that the likes of Edds would not even be at a first division club had the financial crisis not dictated recruitment and Edds obviously noticed putting in an over-eager and under-thought performance. It was Edds who got the post goal roasting after Riccardo Fuller had stooped after ten minutes to covert a corner having lost the Jamaican in the bustle of the middle.

Preston will look at the first half as the time they lost this game. Richard Cresswell and Fuller looked strong and nimble and on another day could have racked up enough to made a second half comeback out of the question. They did not.

Quiet how the second half comeback came about is anyones guess. Francis replaced Edds improving that cover being Summerbee and giving him more of a forward reign but that aside the changes made at half time were either mental or in fortune.

Summerbee and Ben Muirhead made full use of the 70 yards across to give the Bantams the semblance of width and the space afforded by a stretched North End back line gave the strikers space to work in. Andy Gray, who may as well not be playing if he is to stay in midfield, started to look for the ball more and found a Preston midfield interested in containing. Paul Heckingbottom, impressive in central midfield, bunged the flow to the Preston strikers.

On the hour, and on his estimated time of departure, Nicky Summerbee floated a percentages free kick to the back stick which Wetherall headed back. Lucas pushed the ball out and after an almighty melee Michael Branch rocketed the ball with an unnecessary force from two yards to the top corner. Not quiet "If his heart had been a canon", but for Law, not far off.

City rampant now for the first time this season. Branch stretched his legs and skipped around a pair of defenders only to be upended bizarrely without a penalty. City found gaps in the backline one of which Dean Windass darted down on the right to take the ball and slide it to Nicky Summerbee coming through the middle to point the ball through David Lucas's legs for the winner.

A mention to though, are rarely, for the quality refereeing by Roy Pearson that after the rucas that saw Michael Branch get involved with former Town man Chris Lucketti. Dean Windass piled in to take Branch to the ground in a needlessly aggressive away and Branch should never have got involved so the yellow card each was justified and reasonable considering not a punch was thrown. It is probably no coincidence either that the two yellows saved a mountain of paperwork for the officials.

Reasonable to when Graeme Alexander was sent off for his trip on Lewis Emanuel as the young Bantam ranged down the left. A second bookable that left the visitors with ten men. A long ball that Alan Combe chased and cleared with a stretch of something tender left City effectively goalkeeperless with the custodian in no position to save a shot. City got smart and in a way that reminded one of Summerbee's Sunderland side that in the 1-0 win of the 1998-1999 season at Valley Parade has kept the ball on the flanks to eat the clock after Niall Quinn had gone in goal, the Bantams moved into the north west corner with the ball and stayed there. Referee Roy Pearson blew his whistle after David Healy's frustrated charge in on Andy Gray as the Bantams eat the clock.

So for a few days Nicky Law can smile, wryly or otherwise, and City fans can be happy because when this manager and this team stick to what they are good at, they are good.

Man of the Match
Paul Heckingbottom

Performed a good job in. central midfield.

Bradford City Team
  • Simon Francis for Edds
  • Lewis Emanuel for Summerbee