GALLERY: Unlucky Boro lose to Bradford City
Gareth Evans penalty seals all three points for Peter Taylor’s men
Bradford City 1 Stevenage 0
A GARETH Evans penalty consigned Boro to their first league defeat of the season in a frustrating afternoon for Graham Westley’s men at the Coral Windows Stadium.
Joel Byrom was the man who brought down Lee Bullock in the box on 31 minutes and Evans coolly stepped up to send Chris Day the wrong way.
But Boro will have come away from West Yorkshire kicking themselves for not getting at least a point from the most one-sided of games.
The Bantams were installed as second favourites for the title at the start of the season behind Wycombe Wanderers, so when newly promoted Boro were paired with Peter Taylor’s team in their first away match of the campaign they could have been forgiven for thinking it may well be a rude awakening.
As it was, Boro bossed the game, had 17 chances on and off target compared to City’s three and the announcement late on that ex-Boro player Luke Oliver – a defender – was the home side’s man-of-the-match said it all.
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Stevenage’s best player on the day was new signing John Mousinho in his first start for the club.
His box-to-box tenacity was just what was needed on a day when the game was there for the taking and his presence in the centre of park meant that Michael Bostwick, again handling himself well at centre-back, was not missed in midfield.
Boro’s first effort came on 13 minutes when Chris Beardsley shot wide after a good move involving Byrom, Charlie Griffin and a Rob Sinclair nod down in the box.
City then had their only real chance in open play in the first half when Lewis Hunt’s cross from the right was met by James Hanson whose diving header put the ball wide.
Ronnie Henry, who after a shaky start last Saturday looks to have settled into life in League 2, was next, but he is predominately right footed so when he tried his luck with his left on 26 minutes it was no surprise to see it fly away far wide of goal.
Sinclair, already a Boro crowd favourite, then had a shot blocked by City captain Shane Duff’s hand and following Byrom’s free-kick, which hit the wall, there was a scramble in the box and Michael Bostwick scooped an effort just wide.
Boro looked strong and it seemed just a matter of minutes before they registered their first goal but all of their hard work was undone when Byrom tripped Bullock in the box just after the half-hour mark.
The incident was set in motion just moments earlier when Scott Laird failed to control a pass and City were awarded a throw-in.
The ball was moved down the line where there were Boro shouts for a throw-in but the linesman didn’t give it and a cross was curled into the box.
Mark Roberts headed the ball to the edge of his area where Byrom, trying to knock it away from the onrushing Bullock, tripped the Bantams player and Evans duly converted the spot kick.
Taylor’s side were disappointing in defeat to Shrewsbury Town last Saturday but were even more so in victory this weekend.
The 25,000 plus stadium, the 10,000 plus crowds and the big name manager may have convinced the bookies but the performances on the pitch have yet to convince the critics and, more importantly, the home fans who as the second half progressed were increasingly vocal in their disapproval of their team’s performance.
Bradford did have one chance in the second half but Omar Daley, after running across the edge of the 18-yard box with Henry in close pursuit, hit his left-footed shot wide.
That was on 49 minutes and from then on, possession and chance wise, it was all Boro, who were presented with a golden opportunity to equalise on 52 minutes.
A calamitous back pass of James Tomkins proportions saw Duff knock the ball to Odubade inside the City box with goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin scampering back to goal.
Odubade should have hit it first time but trying to steady himself he took a touch and that was his undoing.
McLaughlin was able to make up enough ground and he managed to get a foot to the ball to divert it away from goal.
Odubade had a shout for a penalty turned down by Rob Shoebridge when the referee decided Oliver’s shoulder-to-shoulder challenge in the box was legitimate, and then Griffin went close with a header but was unable to get it on target.
City sat back as Boro pushed for an equaliser and efforts from Sinclair, Beardsley, Laird and Griffin kept the pressure on the hosts but they managed to hold on by their fingertips.
It was a cruel result for Boro, but football is a cruel business.
The silver lining comes with the players knowing they have the chance to start afresh in another seven days’ time and put this defeat behind them.
Bradford City (4-3-3): McLaughlin 6, O’Brien 6, Hunt 6, Oliver 6, Duff 5 (Rehman 5, 59), Doherty 6 (Syers 6, 67), Adeyemi 5, Bullock 7, Evans 6, Daley 7 (Moult, 72), Hanson 5. Subs not used: Saxton, Flynn, Neilson, Threlfall
Boro (4-3-3): Day 6, Henry 7, Laird 6, Roberts 6, Bostwick 7, Byrom 6, Mousinho 8, Sinclair 6 (Boylan, 87), Odubade 7 (Winn 6, 62), Griffin 6, Beardsley 7 (Vincenti, 83). Subs not used: Bayes, Wilson, Charles, Boylan.
Referee: Rob Shoebridge.
Attendance: 10,967 (283 visiting)
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