Bradford City 0
Fleetwood Town 3 (Hiwula 51, Cole 56, Hunter 70)
Tuesday 26 September 2017 | Sky Bet League One | Northern Commercials Stadium
The Bantams were sent crashing to a heavy home defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town on Tuesday evening. Goalless at the break, the visitors were clinical in the second half to take their chances whilst City failed to take any of their hatful. Jordy Hiwula showed composure to score against his former club before another former Bantam, Devante Cole tapped in Town’s second. The win was wrapped up by Ash Hunter who came off the bench to find the top corner from a tight angle with almost his first touch.
The two sides were meeting for the first time at the Northern Commercials Stadium since a Rory McArdle header proved decisive in City’s route to the League One Play-Off Final last term. One player who was a part of that team was Jordy Hiwula and he created the first chance of the evening for Bobby Grant who lashed a shot over the bar from distance.
City’s first chance of the evening came to a man who scored City’s first goal of the season some six weeks ago; Jake Reeves’ first time cross came out as far as Nathaniel Knight-Percival who moved into space before seeing a fiercely struck attempt from the edge of the box blocked bravely behind for a corner by Cian Bolger.
Reeves was probably the busiest player on the pitch in the first half and the next chance of the game belonged to him. Tony McMahon’s corner was headed half clear from inside a crowded penalty area by Hiwula and the City midfielder connected with a firmly struck firs time attempt which Town stopper Alex Cairns did really well to hold onto.
The best chance of a reasonably low-key first half came the way of Town midfielder Kyle Dempsey. Having found himself on the right hand side of the penalty area, he found half a yard of space on Adam Chicksen who stood in his way before thumping a low shot back against the base of Colin Doyle’s near post.
Urged to shoot by the crowd, Nicky Law tried an optimistic shot from distance but Town skipper Nathan Pond stood firmly to block the ball before it had any chance of troubling Cairns and then the visitors were awarded a real opportunity to test Doyle when Knight-Percival was booked for bringing down Hiwula just outside the box.
The free kick was taken by Dempsey but his weak attempt was blocked by the wall before Tony McMahon had to make an all or nothing challenge moments later to stop Grant in his tracks and send the ball crashing into the main stand.
Fleetwood were having a real spell at this stage and the next attempt came through Leeds United loanee Lewie Coyle who came forward from right back to bring a save from Doyle. Before the half was out, there was still time for one more chance for the Bantams and it was a half decent one at that.
Omari Patrick had spent most of the half occupying the left hand side and he switched across to the right to dart towards the area and turn Amari’i Bell inside out and find half a yard of space for a shot; his left-footed attempt was pushed away by Cairns before Bolger hooked clear as a crop of claret and amber shirts looked to profit from the rebound.
City appeared to be quite quick out of the traps for the second half but just six minutes in, Jordy Hiwula gave Fleetwood the lead. Romain Vincelot’s pass towards Reeves was a loose one and Devante Cole latched onto the loose ball to surge towards the box and feed his strike partner Hiwula; he produced a step over to beat Knight-Percival before beating Doyle from 10 yards out.
Doyle had to produce a save just moments later to stop the visitors from getting a quick second. Dempsey delivered a searching cross to the far post and Grant saw a close range header kept out by the City stopper as Stuart McCall’s men were still licking their wounds from falling behind.
The referee brandished Doyle with a yellow card just a few minutes later after he had brought down Cole in an attempt to get onto a loose ball and make a clearance. Viewing the incident from the stand, it looked as if the referee could quite easily have gone either way with his decision but the Irish stopper escaped a dismissal.
City escaped one blow but were hit by another seconds later as Town doubled their lead. Dempsey did really well to be persistent enough to deliver a low cross into the six-yard box which was tapped into the back of the net from close range by Cole.
Stuart McCall made a double substitution bringing on Paul Taylor and Charlie Wyke in an attempt to get back into the game and City went on the front foot in search of a way back into the game. Knight-Percival saw a header held onto by Cairns after connecting with a McMahon corner before Vincelot was somehow denied a goal by the Town stopper; the skipper kicking the post in a mixture of frustration and disbelief.
Town wrapped up victory with a superbly taken counter-attacking goal from substitute Ash Hunter who scored with almost his first touch. Vincelot continued to be frustrated by Cairns who was determined to hold on for a clean sheet before Cole went mightily close to getting his second.
It wasn’t to be City’s night against a Fleetwood side that did their job excellently and carried out their game plan effectively. The Bantams return to the Northern Commercials Stadium on Saturday with an opportunity to bounce back in a Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers.