Backing the Bantams

Two months of the bad, and two months of the good. It’s definitely been a season of two halves to date with over a third of the season in the books.

Unexpected Slow Start

I had Bradford City as one of the favourites to contend for automatic promotion, at the very least the top six, but their start didn’t give any indication of this!

Early exits from the Capital One Cup and The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy didn’t give much cause for optimism with Phil Parkinson’s men also hovering around the bottom half of the league table.

Opening the season with a 4-1 defeat at Swindon Town the Bantams ended August with just five points from five league games. Their solitary win was 1-0 against Port Vale at Valley Parade with the only goal coming from Devante Cole in the 90th minute.

I mentioned in my last blog that Bradford could do with more help in the goals for column if they were to turn potential into success and Cole could be just the man for the job. The arrival of the son of former Manchester United and Newcastle United striker, Andy Cole, on a free from Manchester City could be just the fillip their attacking play needed.

2-1 Win Away

September started better with a 2-1 win away to Oldham and two draws, one against fellow promotion favourites Sheffield United, suggesting they’d turned the corner but two ‘insipid’ performances- a 2-0 home reverse to Peterborough United and the same score line at Colchester United, left them at 19th, their lowest league position of the year to date.

Having said that, there was an unfamiliar and unexpected look to the table at that point anyway. Promoted Burton Albion were top of the pile with unfancied Walsall and Gillingham in second and third place respectively so many a pundit’s predictions were looking shaky.

Upturn In Fortunes

Was it those two straight defeats at the end of September that have been the wake-up call? Was it the return, on loan until January, of probably City’s most exciting player of recent years, winger Kyel Reid? Has it been the renaissance of goal keeper Ben Williams, returning to the side at the expense of Brad Jones?

Probably a combination of all of these and more.

October started with a 3-1 win at Rochdale’s Spotland Stadium, Reid’s first game back, three points also being picked up at Louis Tomlinson’s Doncaster Rovers and at home to Bury.

Back to back draws against Wigan at home (1-1) and Millwall away (0-0), both Championship Clubs last season, meant a healthier league position 0f 14th and only six points from the top six at the end of the month.

Looking Up In November

November has been even better with just one defeat in the league, not to mention progression to the second round of the FA Cup.

Blackpool, Crewe and Scunthorpe are no great shakes but complacency can set in against lesser opposition. City dispatched them comfortably, however, Williams keeping his sixth clean sheet on the bounce in possibly their most complete all-round performance of the season so far in the 2-0 victory at Glanford Park.

Then came two very tough games against table topping Coventry and fourth placed Walsall.

First a satisfying 0-0 against the Sky Blues at Valley Parade with City’s defensive resolution coming to the fore, keeping a seventh successive clean sheet against an opposition team who had scored 14 times in their last four!

Then a visit to Walsall, a team who have built their success so far this season on their away form but still a tough proposition at the Banks’s Stadium.

It was a game of the proverbial two halves – the Saddlers dominated the first period, the Bantams the second period, but the hosts’ pass and move football ended City’s unbeaten run of 11 league games by taking their only two chances on target.

Phil Parkinson possibly has cause for complaint with a stoppage time penalty claim not being upheld by the referee but their second half performance shows this is probably a blip and they should get back on track

Looking Ahead

Top three teams Burton Albion and Gillingham will provide stern tests over the festive period and derbies against Sheffield United and Barnsley round off an interesting couple of months which will give a good indication of the Bantams’ progress since those early season jitters.

And can City become giant killers again after their heroics against Chelsea and Sunderland last season? A possible big third round draw in the FA Cup awaits should non-league Chesham not cause an upset at Valley Parade.

Provident and the Bantams

Provident has been a Bradford business since 1880 and, as one of the biggest employers in the region, is proud to support our local sports clubs, Bradford City and Bradford Bulls.

We’re into our third season sponsoring City’s Community Enclosure and helping the Club’s Community Foundation to get the next generation of fans through the turnstiles through its discounted tickets scheme for local schools and community groups.