Thursday, 27 December 2012

Having a Ball

December’s Events Have Got Everybody Excited

The festive period has been busy for the Bantams
  What a frenzied fortnight of football.
   Seasons with City are never straightforward, and, so far, this season has been a roller coaster ride of excitement, drama and passion. The past two weeks have been no exception.
   Proceedings began with a bang on Tuesday 11th December, when the Bantams beat a full strength Arsenal side to progress to the next round of the Capital One Cup. The euphoria, emotion and incredible atmosphere will live long in the memories of the people of Bradford and were unlike anything that we’ve seen at City in a long time.
   As the week progressed, things continued to fall in City’s favour (depending on your opinion of the cup runs, of course). After being removed from the F.A. Cup for fielding Curtis Good, the club won their appeal and were reinstated in the competition. The possibility of extra fixtures wasn’t exactly welcome, but, nevertheless, it was still good to be back in the cup. Things just kept getting better.
   The Bantams’ run of success seemed to be continuing, after they acquired a two-goal lead at Southend. Unfortunately, though, it was a cushion that could not be retained: two late goals from the hosts meant that the prize was just one point. It wasn’t ideal, by any means, and many were worried that our promotion hopes may be beginning to take a battering, but, at the end of the day, it was better than walking away with nothing.
   Tuesday saw Bradford take on Brentford in the F.A. Cup replay. Kyel Reid made his much-anticipated return and found the back of the net, as did Alan Connell, but 3 Brentford goals in extra time secured victory for the League One side. Few City fans will have qualms about the manner in which their side left the cup, though-the night was a great experience for City’s younger players, and the loss promised to ease the congestion of midweek ties.
   The following day’s Capital Cup draw handed Bradford two games with Aston Villa, much to the delight of many City fans. With the worst goal difference in the Premier League, Aston Villa are certainly beatable. The interest from Sky Sports will generate further income and it’s set to be another sell-out at Valley Parade.
   Finally, the Accrington game added another 3 points to the mix. Admittedly, it wasn’t City’s finest performance (In parts, the defence seemed quite shaky.), but Reid really upped the tempo and we were treated to two great finishes, from Thompson and Connell.
   The best bit? Now, we’re just 6 points off of the top spot!
   From beating you-know-who and enjoying a ninth successive penalty shootout victory, to snatching the three points after Connell’s late winner against Accrington, it’s all happening for the Bantams. At the moment, City boast such a strong squad with a very commendable “Never say die” attitude, and it’s really leading them onto some great victories. Let’s hope for another 3 points against Rochdale.
   Long may this thrilling run continue.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


Wild Celebrations Ensue, As Lionhearted City Shoot Down Premier League Giants

The City stars celebrate their victory

   What an incredible, incredible night.
   The biggest crowd in over half a century gathered to watch Bradford City take on Arsenal F.C., and, boy, was it entertained.
   From the outset, it was clear that Wenger was taking the match seriously. Wilshere, Gervinho, Vermaelen, Podolski and Ramsey all started, whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rosicky were on the bench. Three divisions of football separated the sides, but, given City’s performance, you wouldn’t have noticed.
   Both teams were evenly matched. Arsenal threatened, but Bradford looked the stronger side, with both James Hanson and Nahki Wells working Szczesny.
   Then, just 15 minutes in, it happened.
   Wells brought down a long ball from Duke and paced down the wing, although he was blocked off by an Arsenal defender. Bradford had won a free kick, and, as luck would have it, the chance to fire themselves ahead.
   An unmarked Gary Thompson reacted superbly to Will Atkinson’s header. One touch, and boom-the Bantams were ahead.
   On the half-hour mark, Arsenal were beginning to gain some composure. Excellent defending from City denied them of a goal from a corner, though the Gunners did proceed to rattle the post. Gervinho missed a great chance to put Arsenal level, and the Bantams subsequently ended the half as the game’s leaders.
   As play resumed, the Bradford team continued to show their ability, as great passing play gave Hanson the opportunity to extend the lead. At 54 minutes, Arsenal were yet to have a shot on target. Wenger, feeling the pressure, threw on Rosicky, Chamakh and Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the change in tempo was noticeable: the visitors upped the ante.
   With just three minutes of normal time left, Arsenal took the game into extra time. City’s clearance found Santi Carzola, who whipped the ball in and found Vermaelen at the back post.
   Refusing to be beaten, the City fans rallied the troops. The dream was back on, and, for the eighth cup game this season, the game had gone to extra time.
   A panic-stricken Arsenal attacked in numbers, throwing everyone forward. Chamakh, Wilshere, Gibbs and Sanga all saw their efforts denied. Oxlade-Chamberlain tore up the wing. Carzola rattled the crossbar. Still, City resisted. Arsenal constantly threatened, but the back four were on their toes and dealt with everything. McHugh and McArdle defended superbly, Meredith won every challenge and Darby was so composed on the ball: he didn’t panic, slowed the game down and ensured that he had as much time as he wanted. 
   Extra time was over. Penalties called.
   There may have been a 65-place gap between the teams, but, when it comes to penalties, Bradford are in a league of their own.
   Calmly delivered spot-kicks from Doyle, Jones and Connell, as well as a fine save from Duke, showed that City really are the penalty kings. A dysfunctional Arsenal, meanwhile, crumbled under the pressure and twice hit the woodwork.
   Wenger has never won at Valley Parade.
   That run shows little sign of ending.