Bradford City 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0
The Blues failed to take advantage of Chesterfield’s defeat last night and instead of closing the gap on the leaders, they drop to third in the table behind both the Spireites and in-form Shrewsbury Town.
For Peter Taylor’s victorious Bantams, today’s victory marks the end of a horrendous run of five defeats and one draw in their previous six games.
About the only positive Gary Waddock can take from today is the fact that results elsewhere were kind to the Blues. Of the four teams currently in the play-off positions, Rotherham and Bury both lost, while Port Vale and Gillingham only collected a point each.
The Bantams started this game brightly and when Blues’ keeper Nikki Bull blocked James Hanson’s early effort, Scott Dobie headed the resulting corner just over the crossbar.
Michael Flynn was next to try his luck with a long-range shot which flew past the post, and Dave Syers further encouraged the home fans with another effort which he pulled just wide of target.
Slowly but surely, Wycombe began to get a grip on the first-half and came close to opening the scoring when Matt Bloomfield’s corner was headed goalwards by Chris Westwood only for the ball to be cleared off the line, with Gareth Ainsworth’s follow-up effort also scrambled to safety.
The Bantams’ lone-striker Hansen went off injured after 20 minutes, with substitute Gareth Evans taking his place up-front.
Ainsworth then had two headers, the first a back-pass which Bull had to be alert to stop, and the second a harmless effort which flew over the Bantams’ bar.
Westwood was in the thick of things again on the half-hour mark when he glanced a glorious opportunity wide of the near post from a Bloomfield cross.
Bradford looked vulnerable, and Stuart Lewis was next to try his luck with a long-range effort which flew over the bar, while Ben Strevens appeared to be tripped inside the box as he was about to meet a low cross from Ainsworth.
With half-time approaching, Lewis fired-off a 20 yard screamer which Bradford keeper Lenny Pidgeley did well to turn round the post.
The Bantams brought on Tom Adeyemi at the start of the second-half and he wasted no time making an impression with two early shots, one slipping wide of the post and the other clearing the crossbar. For their part, the Blues had been forced to swap Alan Bennett for the injured Chris Westwood during the break.
Wycombe were no longer in the ascendency and other than a Bloomfield shot from distance, they offered little threat to a Bantams’ side that had been there for the taking before the break.
Scott Rendell replaced Gareth Ainsworth as manager Gary Waddock attempted to introduce a goalscoring threat, while the Bantams brought on Steve Williams for the injured David Syers.
The only goal of the game was scored by Bradford new-boy Kevin Ellison after 69 minutes when he prodded home a Luke O’Brien cross at the back of the penalty area. Ellison was making his debut on-loan from Rotherham after arriving at Valley Parade on Thursday in exchange for Omar Daley.
Having played adventurously enough in the second-half to take the lead, Peter Taylor’s Bantams predictably retreated into their shell, but the Blues didn’t possess sufficient guile to break them down.
Matt McClure was introduced in place of Stuart Beavon and the youngster was soon in the thick of things, heading Kevin Betsy’s cross over the bar from close-range before cleverly making space for himself and rifling another effort over the top.
In the final minutes Wycombe laid siege to Bradford’s stubborn defence, but all they could muster was a weak shot from Strevens which was never going to trouble Pidgeley in a million years.
While the Blues remain in a superb position and obviously can’t win them all, there’s still a nagging doubt that they may not have enough goals in them to maintain a top-three spot.
Bull, McCoy, Winfield, Westwood (Bennett 46), Straker, Ainsworth (Rendell 62), Bloomfield, Lewis, Betsy, Strevens, Beavon (McClure 75).
Blues fire blanks in Bradford
Bradford City 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0