What have we done to deserve this? Bradford (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

24 October 2008

Grimsby Town only 1 in a million, Bradford 3 out of 4

I feel good, I feel bad, I feel happy, I feel sad: I must be at Town.

A calm, temperate evening in the home of the glitterati with around 800 Bradford and Bingleyians slurping their pina coladas in the Osmond stand. Remember, we own you now and all your houses too. We won't send you any fish to batter unless you let us win for once.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Barnes, Clarke, Bennett, Heywood, Newey, Till, Hunt, Trotter, Hegggarty, Jarman and Straight Peter Bore. The substitutes were Monty, North, Llewellyn, Taylor, Stockdale. No change and no charges for Stuart Watkiss for wasting everyone's time by bringing in an amoeba and a broken camera. And we thought it wasn't possible to find a footballer of less use than Mikael Antoine-Curier.

Ah, nothing's impossible then. As the man says: "Change: we can do it". We can do it if we really try. We've got to get it together sooner or later. Why? Because Newell's revolution's here.

Bradford turned up on time, warmed up, waved to their fans, went back to the dressing room and then came out again. All very professional.

First half
Bradford kicked off towards the Pontoon and Town failed to score in the first minute. Booo Town booo!

They moved, they passed, Boulding had a shot. They passed, they moved, they had a corner. They passed and moved, they scored. The ball was shuttled across to their left, leaving Clarke against dasher Daley, 25 or so yards out. Till stood still and watched as Daley tickled Clarke's tummy and did the E-Street shuffle into the area. Hunt and Heywood hid behind the post and Hunt eventually sauntered out to meet the strangely flying Bantam. Daley casually sidestepped the bald battler and slapped a soaring shot into the top left corner. S as T: simple as that.

They passed, they moved, Lee hand-jived forward from the halfway line as Town players backed off and off and off. The shot swivelled off a Town ankle and the resulting corner was headed down softly towards Heggggarty, stood next to the right post. Hegggarty froze, Barnes dozed and the ball bumbled off a thigh and settled in a bunker three yards out. While Barnes and his caddy worked out whether to chip out sideways or simply blast down the fairway and hope for the best, Bradfordians emerged from the dense undergrowth to the sound of distant drums. Newey decided to be decisive, sliding, poking away and averting a boo-some moment, for the moment.

Daley frightened Clarke's internal Shetland ponies before being cloaked in a Bennettian blanket. Boulding and Bennett chased a chip: Bennett won the dash for cash easily. Ah, not so quick now, Mick. Oh, we're being thrashed with a wet mop.

Shall we do something? Till dibbled around on the left, swickering and slippering through two challenges before clipping a perfect cross into the centre. Bore, a few yards out, headed straight at Evans. Till bibbled around in the centre, flicking down the middle behind their Clarke; Jarman tried to circumnavigate using the Great North Passage, but rocks crashed around and he was sunk. Up went the linesman's flag, out came the red card. Their Clarke was off, off and away on his tricycle of despair.

Yes, yes, yes! At last, for the first time ever, ever, ever, Town had some satisfaction against the Yorkshire cluckers. Newey belted the free kick straight at the wall. That wasn't satisfying.

What a frenetic dozen minutes.

Town carved some wood figurines down the left with Newey surging and Till turning to tap a cross into the centre. Bore cushioned a header to Jarman, a dozen yards out and completely unmarked; he volleyed way, way over. Trotter slurped a shot wide and Bore shot straight at Evans. Crosses were crossed, corners were cornered and Town pressed, but the shirts still needed ironing.

After 20 minutes Daley suddenly walked off the pitch. Hooray, hooray, it's a holi-holiday! It really must be our moment, it's all going our way.

Listen lads, we can still do this.

At this Town definitely moved to three at the back with Clarke and Hegggarty as advanced wing-backs. Till was roaming in the gloaming, being in an indecipherable position, possibly in a flotation tank. Clarke coiled a free kick just over the angle of post and bar, Till crossed beyond the sea, Newey played mah-jong with Hegggarty and crossed beyond the moon, Clarke crossed beyond the stars and Evans was yet to do anything but play music to watch girls go by.

Oh, ooh, err, nearly. Hunt and Jarman tic-tac-toed to release Hegggarty 25 yards out, who slabbered a mesmerising first-time shot which rose on the thermals of panic within the Bradford defence. Rising, rising and slipping a few inches past the angle of post and bar.

It's all Town, we haven't seen the Bantamweights for ages...

On the half-hour Bradford bothered to have another attackette: Coulbeck bustled forward down their right from the halfway line. Newey backed off. Newey continued to back off. Newey is probably still backing off as you read this in the year 2525. Coulbeck cut in towards the penalty area, shuffled across and was half tackled by a lunging Heywood. The ball rolled into the 'D' and Boulding apologetically swiped a low shot through some Town legs and into the middle-right of the goal; Barnes was too far over to his left. Boulding appeared to be embarrassed that he'd scored, and so were we.

I know it's 2-0, but we could still do this.

Newey walloped over from way out, Clarke cracked a free kick against the wall, Bennett headed at Evans from a corner. Town tried but were found guilty. Till and Newey marvellously roamed and Hunt's header was fingertipped over the bar for another opportunity not to score. Add in more crosses and corners, and then chuck on a smidgeon of deflections and miscues and you get to half time.

One early goal is all it will take. We can still do this.

Second half
Neither team made a change at half time.

The Town tornado wobbled Pontoonwards, sucking up detritus and throwing packets of fruit pastilles at Evans. Bore to Till to Jarman and back to Bore, freed with wondrous old-style Buckleyan one-twos and alone inside the penalty area. Evans waited for the music to start again as Bore opened up his body and, from a dozen yards, carefully spoondled an awful shot 17 yards high and wide. Here's another bus of impossibility roaring past the Imp toot-toot-tooting its horn.

Toblerone football released Newey behind their defence. He crossed into the centre, where a dozen able bodies rose and Hegggarty headed firmly and down to the keeper's right. Evans changed direction and brilliantly parried the ball out, but not away. With strangled Bantams scattered across the abattoir floor, the ball slowly bounded out to the six-yard line, dead centre. Evans was prostrate, Lee on his back and the goal as open as Tesco on a Tuesday. Trotter waited and hit the ball into the ground with his studs. It painfully bumbled back towards goal and Evans managed to stretch and pluck our hopes and expectations to his chest. An impossible miss. Town should be level. 'Should' is not a word in the Town dictionary but 'won't' is.

And still Town's Light Brigade charged. Another cross, another header tipped over. Who by? Anyone; they all headed goalwards at some point. Another corner. Then another. Another shot, another deflection and another suitcase in another hall.

Why do we still come? I guess we need the eggs.

Heggarty slapped wide, Heggarty bundled wide, Heggarty crossed over everyone. Bore glanced a header well, well wide. Bradford had not gone beyond the halfway line: they were just huddling together in the middle of their trench, hoping the mortars continued to drop in the cow field behind. And on the hour they suddenly burst forward; Clarke fiddled and slow roasted a little Bantam on their left. The referee awarded a free kick for basting hot fat with a plastic spoon; the free kick was cleared for a corner. Bradford sent up their big men. All one of them. Heywood waited for Lee and the corner duly curled to the far post. Lumbering, slumbering Heywood fell like a distressed elm as the practically unmarked Lee dunked a header in from six or so yards. If Heywood can't even head the ball now, what use is he?

We bought you drinks, we brought you flowers, we read you books and talked for hours. So tell me, Martin Butler, what had we done to deserve this?

You know, Town could still do this, it's only 3-0.

At this North replaced Jarman and immediately twisted around his marker six yards out and fell over, under and around the ball as Bantamites panicked. Ooh, another cross, ooh, another corner. Newey lazily drifted through two challenges and poked a 30-yard shot 30 inches over the bar. Hegggarty slid a header into Evans' arms, Bennett hurled throw-ins into the concrete mixer of life and everyone did the can-can as the ball rolled tantalisingly between different coloured socks and different coloured boots.

With 25 minutes left Town got another corner. Hegggarty curled it into the near post and Trotter, about eight yards out, glided between the sheets and thundered a header down towards the bottom left corner. Evans plunged and prodded the ball into the side netting.

Town could still win this.

Taylor replaced Hunt and Town moved to a formation best described as three defenders, Trotter, and everyone else upfield waiting...

Hegggarty headed at the keeper. Clarke crossed to the near post, to the far post, and to the last post. Town tried everything: isosceles triangles, equilateral triangles, scalene triangles, even circular triangles as Bradford toes and noses managed to poke and prod away. Till and Clarke beautifully infiltrated the Bradford left with one-touch passes, flicking inside to North, ten yards out, who dragged a left-footed shot to the keeper's near post. Newey lazily drifted through two challenges and poked a 30-yard shot 30 millimetres over the bar. All Town.

Matthew Heywood, to run away from you was all that they had to do. Even old Peter Thorne.

And then it happened. In the 8Second minute Bradford had an attack, which was lovely for them. Boulding was released behind Newey and Barnes came off his line to block. There. See, it does happen: Barnes can make saves. His first, his last, his everything on the night.

And finally Town were broken. The urgency remained but what little belief they had dissipated. North volleyed a half-cleared corner over from a dozen yards, Bore hooked over, Bore grizzled over, someone had a header, someone crossed, someone cried, someone danced, someone fried a bacon buttie.

And the game ended. Maybe we can't win this now.

Town had a trillion shots, Bradford a few. Town players were fine until they had to do something decisive inside the penalty areas. That's the difference: Bradford's players just oozed contentment, confident that it would all turn out nice again. For the umpteenth time this season Town were not awful, just not quite good enough at the crucial points of the game. For the umpteenth time this season Town have tossed away points through carelessness. Town look like Torquay did when they went down. Small, neat, but just a bit weak. Mr ReNewell knows what he needs, now he needs to get it. Who said Dean Windybottom?

21 November 21 is looking ominous: it's rapidly getting to the stage where the future is now. We're using up our sinking fund, our savings are dwindling. We have got to get it together, we have got to get it together. Now.