Bradford City 1 Scunthorpe United 0
The Bantams recorded another huge three points in the chase for a top six finish and once again it was Steven Davies, on as a substitute, who scored the winning goal. Scunthorpe looked bright in the first half and both teams had some decent chances at getting on the score-sheet but it remained goalless until Davies side-footed into the corner after latching onto James Hanson’s flick on. The win is one that moves City up into fifth in the table.
The visitors probably started the game brighter, looking full of confidence and surely spurred on by a recent 6-0 demolition of Swindon Town earlier in the week. Despite this, it was City that had the first couple of chances; Nathan Clarke powered a header over the bar after connecting with Tony McMahon’s corner before Reece Burke saw a shot from the edge of the box blocked importantly by Neal Bishop.
United looked like they were in behind for a sight of goal after 15 minutes; a tidy pass allowed Bishop to run into the penalty area and his low centre looked destined to be turned in by leading scorer Paddy Madden, but Stephen Darby got back to turn the ball behind importantly and deny the Irish forward a tap in.
Lee Evans was making his return to the team following a break from league action, away on international duty with the Welsh Under 21s side, and he almost broke the deadlock in superb fashion. Billy Clarke’s cross was cleared as far as the Wolves loanee and he hit a rasping shot towards goal from 20 yards which had to be tipped over the bar alertly by Luke Daniels.
Evans combined with fellow returning central midfielder Josh Cullen to provide the next opening; he nodded Nathan Clarke’s long throw into the path of the West Ham United loanee but his radar was slightly off, with a first time shot from the edge of the box which went a couple of yards over the bar.
The game suddenly sprung into life around half an hour in and both teams had a real chance of opening the scoring with the space of a sixty seconds. After Kyel Reid had seen a low, goal-bound drive, blocked by Jordan Clarke, down the other end Madden ran into the box before having an angled drive saved well by Ben Williams, who recorded yet another clean sheet.
Seconds after that duo of chances, Scunthorpe were denied by some outstanding defending by Stephen Darby. Hakeeb Adelakun cut inside from the right hand side and saw a shot blocked by the City skipper, before he made sure he was in the right place at the right time to deny Madden’s follow-up.
City started the second half on the front foot and Madden was back in his own penalty area to do a spot of defending, clearing Evans’ header towards goal after he had latched onto McMahon’s out swinging corner into the mix.
Billy Clarke wasted a very presentable opportunity to test Daniels between the Scunthorpe sticks shortly afterwards. The Irishman found the feet of Jamie Proctor and he got the return ball off the in-form forward before lashing a shot on his favoured left foot, comfortably over the bar from the edge of the area.
Phil Parkinson made what has recently become, the usual second half substitution, with Hanson and Davies brought into action. With his first touch, the latter scored what proved to be the winning goal. James Meredith’s throw-in into the box was flicked on by a combination of Hanson and David Mirfin, and Davies side footed home neatly at the near post to break the deadlock.
The two substitute front-men combined well to create the next opportunity. Davies conjured up a neat flick into the path of Hanson and he set the ball to the on-rushing McMahon who could only managed to drag his shot a yard or so wide of the target.
Filipe Morais made a return to action, coming off the bench in place of Reid to put an official end to a nine month spell on the sidelines. He’s worked his socks off to get back into the thick of things again and it was great to see him receive a warming reception from the home fans inside the ground!
Davies found the net again with a superbly taken strike into the bottom corner, but it was ruled out for a handball decision as he looked to control the ball.
Morais had a chance of his own in the last minute, but after cutting inside from the left hand side, he saw a low drive from outside the box saved by the legs of Daniels. That would have been some story, but even in the short time he was on, he looked his lively best.
Evans almost put the icing on the cake in injury time but after setting sights from roughly 30 yards out, he saw a curling shot tipped over the bar by Daniels.
Davies then nearly had a second deep in injury time when he latched onto Morais' cross but his header from six yards out was repelled by the legs of the Scunthorpe shot-stopper.
Another 1-0 win for the Bantams which moves Phil Parkinson’s side up to fifth in the League One table. Six games left to play, it’s going to be an exciting run in, which continues next weekend at the Coral Windows Stadium with Swindon Town next up.