Bradford City v Port Vale
At The Coral Windows Stadium
Saturday 29th August 2015
Attendance: 17,806 including 498 visiting supporters
Vale went close to securing another clean sheet against Bradford City, before conceding right at the death in what can only be described as a ‘game of two halves’ at the Coral Windows Stadium.
Vale dominated right from the kick off, but were not able to capitalise and went in at the interval on level terms, knowing that they should have had something to show for their efforts.
It was inevitable that the home side would pick things up for the second period of the game and in fairness they had Vale on the rack at times.
But just as it looked like Vale’s unbeaten start to the season would continue, Devante Cole poked the ball home from close range, deep into stoppage time, to win it for the Bantams.
Rob Page again went with the same staring eleven for the fourth time in Vale’s last five games, the only change being on the bench, with Jak McCourt coming in for Michael Brown.
Vale started the game strongly, obviously going flat out to get an early advantage as they pushed Bradford deep inside their own half.
The home side looked a little nervous at the back on a couple of occasions as Vale had them pinned back as they went in search of an early goal.
Vale’s work rate was evident as they did all the running, challenging quickly every time Bradford had possession, whilst being in control of things at the back when the home side did venture forward.
Uche Ikpeazu was causing the home defence problems with his strength and determination and Louis Dodds almost capitalised on the big striker’s hard work once or twice.
The battle between Bradford striker James Hanson and Vale defender Richard Duffy was an interesting one, with Duffy, refusing to be bullied, standing his ground and giving as good as he got.
There was half chance for Hanson when former Vale winger crossed from the left and Inniss only half cleared, but the Bantams’ striker screwed his shot high and wide.
Vale then went close at the other end when Dickinson sent the ball towards the box from a deep position and Ikpeazu connected with an overhead kick, only for Williams to get down and make a fairly comfortable save.
Predictably, the home side began to see more of the ball and they began to venture out of their own half more as the first half went one, yet they did little to suggest they could offer anything to hurt Rob Page’s side.
The home side came out for the second half looking more determined and they began to impose themselves on the game after obviously receiving some harsh words from manager Phil Parkinson during the interval.
Vale were now being kept occupied in keeping their hosts at bay and as a consequence were less effective as an attacking force.
It was certainly a turn-around after Vale had dominated the opening forty five minutes of the game, prompting Rob Page to make changes after 63 minutes.
Wingers Byron Moore and Enoch Andoh, who had seen less of the ball in the second half, were replaced with Chris Birchall and Sam Kelly.
A cross from Marshall, now operating on the right flank, flashed across the face of the Vale goal, with Alnwick looking a little flat-footed as Davies was unable to get a toe to the ball to punish the Vale.
With the home side poised to make a double substitution, Vale made a third change in the 69th minutes when Ikpeazu went off to make room for Ajay Leitch-Smith.
Former Vale loanee Billy Knott, who had come off the bench a couple of minutes earlier, threatened when he and Josh Morris combined to create space for a shot, but the outstretched foot of Alnwick in the Vale goal prevented Knott from finding the net.
Despite the home side having the better of the second half and despite Vale not hitting the heights of their first half performance, Bradford still struggled to hurt a dogged and determined Vale defence.
GOAL:But in the final minute of stoppage time Bradford finally got the goal that decided the game when substitute DEVANTE COLE took full advantage of a mistake inside the Vale box to toe-poke home from 3 yards.
BRADFORD CITY:Ben Williams, Stephen Darby, James Meredith, Lee Evans, Mark Marshall, Gary Liddle, James Hanson, Reece Burke, Rory McArdle, Steven Davies, Paul Anderson. SUBS: Brad Jones, Nathan Clarke, Billy Knott, Josh Morris, Greg Leigh, Luke James, Devante Cole.
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Ryan Inniss, Richard Duffy, Carl Dickinson, Byron Moore, Sam Foley, Anthony Grant, Enoch Andoh, Louis Dodds, Uche Ikpeazu. SUBS: Sam Johnson, Re mi Streete, Chris Birchall, Colin Daniel, Jak McCourt, Sam Kelly, Ajay Leith-Smith.
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There will be a full match report on the official website moments after the final whistle, with player and manager interviews to come later.
A match gallery (photos courtesy of Gerard Austin) will also appear on the site soon.