Bantams land Blues early knockout blow
Bradford City 1, Wycombe Wanderers 0.
WANDERERS are still looking over the shoulders as defeat at Bradford left them shy of manager Gareth Ainsworth’s 50 point target.
An early goal from Garry Thompson was enough to bag all three points for the Capital One Cup finalists as they completed the double over a below par Blues.
City were workmanlike and did just enough to scrap their way to a win from a poor game that saw few chances at either end.
Ainsworth has said his side still aren’t safe from the dreaded drop and with strugglers Accrington, Barnet, Plymouth and Torquay all winning tonight it leaves Wanderers still casting anxious glances over their shoulders.
They needed a strong start against a Bradford side who will probably still be stuck in League Two for another season but they fell behind early on.
Half the ground thought Bradford had gone in front from a first minute corner as the ball was somehow scrambled into the side netting after being cleared off the line.
City pinned Wanderers back into their own half and went in front from their first attempt on target. James Hanson climbed above the Blues defence following a free kick in the corner and nodded the ball into the path of strike partner Thompson, who fired through a defender and into the net.
The goal woke a previously lacklustre Wycombe from their collective slumber and they almost managed an instant response as Andrew Davies slid in to deny Matt McClure from close range.
That whirlwind opening suggested an end to end game would be in the offing but despite plenty of meaty challenges flying in from both sets of players only half chances were created. Kyel Reid blazed wide for Bradford while Dean Morgan fired straight at Bantams keeper Jon McLaughlin before getting another effort all wrong as he missed the target following Sam Wood’s flick through.
Goalscorer Thompson nearly added to his tally as he flicked narrowly wide after a swift counter attack down the left through Reid before an incisive breakaway from Morgan culminated in Wood heading straight at the keeper.
Defences dominated as the game had an end of season feel to it despite Blues still needing another point to reach Ainsworth’s 50 point target and Zavon Hines pulled a rare chance wide as he collected a knock down from the imposed Hanson.
An early second half chance went Bradford’s way as Thompson brilliantly flicked the ball past Michael Harriman before shooting just over the bar.
The home side then had a rather large stroke of fortune as McClure – who had just had muted appeals for a penalty ignored – headed Morgan’s perfect centre over from six yards.
It was a glaring miss, coming from the sort of ball he’s been sticking away all season, and it went unpunished as Hanson blasted off target when he collected one of the many long balls that proliferated throughout the game and shot from 20 yards.
Generally speaking Wanderers were defending stoutly with Jordan Archer not being seriously tested despite Bradford pressing.
But going forward they created little and Morgan’s 20 yard shot skidded wide when the ball was played back to him at the end of a spell of passing football that he had started.
Ainsworth opted to bring himself on to inspire the troops, like he had done against Torquay and Rotherham, after seeing Rory McArdle not being able to grow enough to nod home Hanson’s flicked header, which was a shade too high for him.
One lung bursting run that took him into the penalty area aside he wasn’t able to get his men to raise their game, and a flying Winfield header from a corner that went over the top was the extent of the Wanderers comeback.
Wanderers: Archer, Harriman, Winfield, Doherty, Dunne, Grant (sub Ainsworth), Lewis, Scowen, Wood, Morgan (sub Morias), McClure. Substitutes not used: Ingram, Oli, McCoy, Kuffour, Hause.