Roses battle ends all square
Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 02 December 2013
Athletic 1, Bradford 1
BY the standard of the usual Sunday afternoon Roses duels, this one was a lot more thunderous than a tussle over the last caramel keg in the chocolates tin.
Boundary Park rocked as Bradford’s fans flocked and Athletic’s faithful responded to form a crowd of 7,180. Those present enjoyed an intriguing contest
In the first half, it was hell-for-leather. Athletic fell behind: Nahki Wells neatly lifted a Garry Thompson cross over Mark Oxley and into the roof of the goal.
Just two minutes after the visitors had opened the scoring, Jonson Clarke-Harris took a pass from James Wesolowski down the left side of the penalty area and hammered a left-footed shot that nearly took the netting with it as it seared beyond McLaughlin.
This was a game heavy on incident, keeping referee David Webb busy. Most of his decisions earned reproach from at least one section of Boundary Park – but most of his decisions were correct.
So it was that James Hanson saw yellow rather than red for leading with an arm in the 26th minute. Had the tall striker truly connected with an elbow, as was claimed, then Matteo Lanzoni would surely not have sprung straight back to his feet.
Kyel Reid felt he had earned a penalty for falling over James Tarkowski after 42 minutes; Webb felt not. And Reid, with his card marked, also looked for a spot-kick just before the hour but got a yellow for a perceived dive instead.
The one outcome Webb probably got wrong was to keep Ellis Plummer on the pitch. The young Manchester City defender tripped Thompson while already booked and was grateful for leniency. Johnson brought him off soon afterwards.
It took Athletic a while to get to grips with Phil Parkinson’s set-up, but after drawing level they took territorial command for most of the remaining minutes. And with Tarkowski and Grounds ultra-solid, the Hanson-Wells axis had little joy.
The second half was a mainly tepid and defensive affair, as both managers mastered the art of cancelling out the other.
Goalmouth action was at a premium. Tarkowski headed powerfully but far off target from a Dayton corner, Clarke-Harris stimulated an optimistic handball appeal as his cross connected with Matthew Bates’ arm from close range, and Schmeltz screwed an effort wide from 25 yards out.
Mike Petrasso had James Meredith looking to the heavens for assistance with some sparkling bursts infield after his introduction.
But Athletic still failed to make opportunities against a Bradford side happy to take a point.
Home supporters couldn't have departed the ground displeased. After a run of seven wins and three draws in the last dozen outings, this was further evidence that prayers for more consistent achievement from Athletic are being answered.
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