Bradford 0 Swindon 0: Farewell League Two and thanks for the memories
A spectacular season was capped by a match somewhat less so, as Valley Parade played host to the only goalless game in the Football League this weekend. With nothing more than pride to play for, the game itself had somewhat of a pre-season feeling to it, writes Rosie MacGillivray.
Both players and supporters shown that sportsmanship still existed. The Bradford team welcomed their Swindon counterparts onto the pitch before an immaculately performed silence was observed for the 56, who died at Valley Parade 27 years ago. Alan McCormack got the day off as Paolo Di Canio shuffled the defence around to accommodate Nathan Thompson. Jay McEveley moved into the centre, while Paul Caddis switched to left-back.
Thompson’s golden opportunity to impress Di Canio was brought to an abrupt end by a rash Rob Kozluk challenge. Thompson attempted to carry on but with a wince followed every attempted run, tackle or pass. One man’s misery is another man’s gain as Chris Smith was given a chance of his own to prove his worth.
Against Kyel Reid, Smith’s first challenge in professional was a tough one. As Matt Ritchie drifted in on a regular basis, a lack of pace and fitness combined with nerves left him exposed on occasion, by the tricky winger.
All in all, it was a dull first 45 and only the regular chant of ‘Stand up for the champions’ stopped me from dosing off. Fortunately, Wes Foderingham’s concentration levels bettered mine as he showed good reflexes to save from a Nahki Wells shot. Swindon were unable to get going first-half and Bradford failed to take advantage of a disorganised, makeshift defence. Bradford City’s lack of clinical finishing explained their lowly league position more so than their actual play.
Town came out for a second half with a spring in their step as Matt Ritchie and John Bostock were more involved. However, the promise turned out to be short-lived. Smith continued to struggle against Reid and consequently, swapped with Caddis. Lee Holmes’ tendency to stay out wide allowed him to assist Smith with defensive duties.
The Swindon defence obviously had holiday plans on their minds Wells found Dave Syers with ease but finishing that was so poor, it was criminal ensured he wasn’t to break the deadlock. Credit must also go to Foderingham for his ability to stand up strong and stay big. Soon after, Syers did find his shooting boots as found the net. However, unsurprisingly the goal was ruled out as Foderingham was clattered following a previous shot. The disallowed lifted the atmosphere as stewards had to in stop the ‘handbags’ from both sets of supporters.
It also sparked some life into the game as Town finally looked interested in ending the season with three points. Miles Storey and Luke Rooney were also introduced in quick succession in place of Ferry and Holmes. Storey showed good awareness to find Ritchie, although the latter never, as he shot when other options were available. Although it is the same selfishness that has seen him score 11 goals this season.
Minutes later, Bostock showed quick feet to skip past City defenders and feed Caddis, whose cross-field pass found Rooney, but he was unable to threaten the goal. Rooney then won a free-kick after he dazzled defenders with his dribbling. While we thought it was close, the reality is Bradford keeper Jon McLaughlin was never challenged.
One final throw of the dice saw a blatant handball but somehow, a penalty wasn’t given. A quite staggering decision and had it been a higher-profile game, it would have been shown time and time again. It was just as well nothing was counting on the game. My frustration at the penalty not being given soon transfers to witnessing a seat being thrown my way from someone above.
While the game wasn’t all that, post-match celebrations more than made up for it. Di Canio used his powers to hush a 1000-strong travelling support, who were at first slightly bemused to see everyone sat on the pitch. No-one was expecting to hear a chorus of ‘stand up for the champions’ from the players. It showed a club full of togetherness and unity – pure class.
It’s just a shame Di Canio didn’t enjoy being thrown in the air as much. Far from a classic, but the same can’t be said for this season. Farewell League Two and thanks for the memories.
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