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Oliver returns in Harrogate friendly

30 July 2013

Tuesday 30 July 2013
Harrogate Town 2 (Nowakowski 5, Worsfold 37)
Bradford City 1 (Curtis 36)
Kick Off: 7.30pm
at the CNG Stadium

Luke Oliver made his long awaited return to action this Tuesday as the popular centre half managed to finally end his frustrating spell on the sidelines during City's pre-season friendly with Harrogate Town.

Oliver replaced Carl McHugh as a second half substitute with just under half an hour to go for his first involvement with the Bantams since snapping his Achilles tendon at Burton Albion last October.

Goals from Adam Nowakowski and Adam Worsfold in the first half helped a hard-working Harrogate, who included former Bantams loanee Adam Bolder in their side, to register a win from the match against City's XI.

The Bantams' goal on the night was scored by apprentice attacker Nathan Curtis.

Along with introducing Oliver back into the fold, Bantams boss Phil Parkinson used the friendly at Harrogate's CNG Stadium as a chance to give members of his squad some match minutes ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League 1 opener at Bristol City.

McHugh, Ricky Ravenhill, Michael Nelson, Kyel Reid, Jason Kennedy and Alan Connell all started the friendly fixture against the Blue Square Bet North outfit.

Louie Swain, another member of Parkinson's first team squad, was the first to try his luck in the game when the young striker fired a low snapshot from just inside the area narrowly wide of Craig MacGillivray's goal after only three minutes.

Despite Swain's early sighter though, it was Harrogate who took the lead of the friendly contest just two minutes later. Home striker Chris Hall took control of a long throw into City's box to set the move in motion before teeing up Nowakowski to beat Jack Bentley low at his near post with a controlled side-foot.

City made most of the running thereafter in the opening period of the first half, with Swain and then Connell firing wide with shots from in and around the edge of Harrogate's area.

Although the Bantams eleven were clearly settling into the match, Harrogate could have doubled their advantage in the twenty-third minute when Hall beat McHugh to the ball just outside City's area.

After getting the better of McHugh, Hall then turned inside of City's other centre half on the night, Nelson, but the striker's eventual shot on goal was weak and Bentley could save easily.

Hall's near miss seemed to then coincide with a decent period in the game for Harrogate. The hosts had one promising chance in particular just before the half hour mark when Leigh Franks came within inches of sliding in at the far post after Nowakowski had headed Dave Merris' far post free-kick back across goal.

Nine minutes of the first half were remaining when City drew level though through Curtis. Both Connell and Kennedy had a nibble at Swain's low centre but it was Curtis, positioned over on the far side of the goal, who managed to get the ball under control before drilling a left-footed drive past MacGillivray.

City would remain on level terms for less than a minute, however, when Hall sent in a teasing near post cross that Worsfold managed to divert into the far corner with a first time effort from around twelve yards out.

Chances then came at both ends as the half drew to a close. Craig Nelthorpe fizzed in a fierce drive narrowly over the bar from around twenty-five yards out, while Franks had to be on hand to kick clear from right in front of his own goal a minute or so later after Connell's low angled drive had squirmed under the body of MacGillivray.

Pictures kindly provided by Claire Epton

Connell then saw his well-struck free-kick from just outside the area deflected narrowly wide of the 'keeper's far post shortly afterwards.

The final chance of the half fell to City as well when Swain glanced a header a few yards wide of the same far post following trialist Paul Wheldon's hanging cross into the area.

The second period started in a similar vein for City, with McHugh heading a couple of yards over from a corner shortly after the restart. Ten minutes later, Reid saw an angled drive across goal deflected narrowly wide after the winger had been released into space thanks to a neat flick from Connell. 

The moment pretty much all of City's travelling support within the ground will have been waiting for came in the sixty-four minute when Oliver was introduced for McHugh. For Oliver, it was his first action in any sort of competitive match in nearly nine months.

Young Calum Hepworth, who started at right back, was replaced by fellow apprentice James King at the same time.

Connell nearly managed to mark Oliver's introduction with a goal when the striker took aim from just outside the area less than a minute later, but his low effort whistled narrowly past MacGillivray's near post.

The seventieth minute of the match saw another change for City when first year scholar Elliott Barker was given the 'keeping duties in place of Bentley.

City, who had spent most of the second period on the front-foot come the final quarter of the game, engineered another opening when Reid crossed for Connell to send a downward header back across goal and a yard or so wide.

Connell was given another partner in attack for the final twelve minutes of the game when Dylan Mottley-Henry was brought on for Swain. The apprentice winger took up his natural right wing role, allowing Curtis to move up into attack.

City's fifth change of the night came four minutes later on when Ravenhill was replaced by another of City's youth ranks, Sam Wright.

All of the changes made by City inevitably took some of the stream out of their efforts to get back on level terms in the match for a second time.

With that in mind, Harrogate were able to see off the Bantams' final advances relatively comfortably in the last few minutes of the game and hang on for a win on home soil against a much-changed City side.

Bradford City team
1. Jack Bentley
2. Calum Hepworth
3. Paul Wheldon
4. Ricky Ravenhill
7. Kyel Reid
8. Jason Kennedy
10. Louie Swain
11. Nathan Curtis
16. Carl McHugh
17. Alan Connell
22. Michael Nelson

12. Elliott Barker for 1 (70)
6. Luke Oliver for 16 (64)
9. Sam Wright for 4 (82)
15. James King for 2 (64)
20. Dylan Mottley-Henry for 10 (78)

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