CLUBS often go out in an attempt to buy goals but they generally come at a premium price.
In Bradford City’s case, however, they got a real bargain in the January sales, cleverly triggering a £250,000 release clause on deadline day to land Charlie Wyke from Carlisle United.
Wyke has scored six times in 10 appearances for the Bantams and his late brace against relegation-threatened Swindon proved particularly valuable.
Not only did it keep City’s unbeaten home record intact but it kept them firmly in the play-off places and still in with a chance of automatic promotion.
Boro product Wyke, 24, could easily have been celebrating his first hat-trick for the club but a firm first-half header came back off the post.
When Swindon struck on the break in the 75th minute to net through Nicky Ajose from their first serious attack in the second half, dominant Bradford looked set to pay for their profligacy.
However, the man who had set up a succession of chances with dynamic wing play, Mark Marshall, delivered the right-left combination to help Wyke flatten the visitors.
In the 85th minute, Marshall’s cross from the right was headed powerfully home by Wyke, despite goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux getting a hand to the ball.
Marshall was then the provider for the winner as the game went into stoppage-time. Freed down the left by substitute Billy Clarke, Marshall hit a low cross which Wyke forced in from close range after another forward replacement, Alex Jones, had taken the goalkeeper and Nathan Thompson out of the equation with a brave challenge.
A delighted Wyke said: “That’s the second time this season I’ve scored after 90-plus minutes so it’s an unbelievable feeling.
That’s the second time this season I’ve scored after 90-plus minutes so it’s an unbelievable feeling.Bradford City goal-scoring hero, Charlie Wyke.
“I’m just glad to get the three points in the end because it was looking a bit doom and gloom on 85 minutes. Thankfully, we turned it round.
“I scored for Carlisle against Exeter earlier in the season – it was 97 minutes that one so a bit earlier but it’s a great feeling to score when it’s in stoppage time.
“I was thinking it was going to be one of those games again because I hit the post in the first half and I’d hit the post in the previous game, too.
“When they scored, it was just about the first time they had crossed into our half in the second half and it does drain you, especially when we had played so well.
“We had been creating chances but not getting on the end of them. But, thankfully, after the equaliser we started to move it a bit quicker and got the winner.
“The momentum was in our favour after the equaliser and they were crumbling a bit.
“Alex Jones did well for the winner. He got his body in the way and I think he collided with the defender and the keeper and the ball just fell for me two yards out.”
Of his goal supplier, Wyke continued: “We have got a good understanding me and Marshall. He is an absolute threat down both wings. I would hate to play against him. He is rapid and gets the ball in the box, which is good for me. Hopefully, I will keep just getting on the end of his crosses and those of Tony McMahon and Mezza (James Meredith), who also puts some great balls in.
“With the teams above picking up points as well it was a huge win in the end. We have just to keep going now, keep racking up the points to see where we end up.”
The next destination is Glanford Park on Sunday for a televised meeting with fellow play-off side Scunthorpe, who have been faltering of late.
Wyke added: “We will go to Scunthorpe with a lot of confidence and show them what we are made of. We are all looking forward to it. Am I surprised Scunthorpe have slipped down? It’s a good league and anyone can beat anyone really so we have got to go there and take what we have done today and then we will be able to come out with the three points.”
City chief Stuart McCall will speak to Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill later in the week to discuss the availability of goalkeeper Colin Doyle, who is with the senior squad, and midfield man Josh Cullen, who is with the Under-21s, but is hopeful both will be freed to rejoin the Bantams.
Bradford City: Doyle, Knight-Percival, Vincelot, McArdle; McMahon, Cullen, Dieng (Clarke 62), Meredith; Marshall (Darby 90), Wyke, Hiwula (Jones 62). Unused substitutes: Sattelmaier, Toner, Penney, Devine.
Swindon Town: Vigouroux, Thompson, Branco, Conroy, Dabo (Barry 46); Ince, Colkett, Gladwin (Norris 73), Goddard; Ajose, Obika. Unused substitutes: Henry, Thomas, Rodgers, Iandolo, Starkey.
Referee: S Stocksbridge (Tyne & Wear).