ANALYSIS: Bradford City rewarded for playing to their strengths in Northampton Town success

Paudie O'Connor netted Bradford City's late winner against Northampton Town. Picture: Getty Images
Paudie O'Connor netted Bradford City's late winner against Northampton Town. Picture: Getty Images
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Following what can be described as an indifferent start to the season, Bradford City boss Gary Bowyer used Thursday’s pre-match press conference to deliver a message to his players.

The time was now for his side to “really get going and have a right good go at this division,” he said.

And those instructions were quite clearly received and understood by the Bantams, who just kept going and going and eventually got their just rewards when they entertained Northampton Town on Saturday afternoon.

With the visitors a goal to the good, City were huffing and puffing and it looked very much as if it was going to be another one of those days.

Coming into the match on the back of consecutive league defeats, a third loss on the spin would have been something of a disaster.

Yet, two goals in the final 13 minutes saw the game turned on its head and the hosts climb from lower mid-table and up to within touching distance of the League Two play-off places.

With a pair of proven goalscorers up top, having a "right good go" translated into Bradford keeping it simple and playing to their strengths, getting the ball wide and trying to deliver it into the danger zone.

They didn't enjoy much success at first, but eventually a couple of excellent crosses resulted in two important goals.

Dylan Connolly and Harry Pritchard offered genuine width down the flanks and did their best to feed James Vaughan and Clayton Donaldson from the word go.

Yet it was the introduction of Zeli Ismail in place of AFC Wimbledon-loanee Connolly - who enjoyed a bright debut - that really sparked the Bantams into life.

The substitute upped the ante, taking the game to the Cobblers and showing real intent down the right wing.

When the ball eventually found its way to him following a 77th-minute corner, Ismail accelerated into the box, skinned a Northampton defender and drilled a centre across the face of goal where the combination of Donaldson and Michael Harriman diverted it into the back of the net.

Eleven minutes later, Pritchard delivered from the opposite wing, Kelvin Mellor forced David Cornell into a superb save, but Paudie O'Connor was on hand to stroke home the winning goal at the far post.

Earlier, City had fallen behind with 20 minutes on the clock, shortly after Vaughan was denied one-on-one by Cornell's first excellent stop of the afternoon.

It was big centre-half Charlie Goode who broke the deadlock, nodding home Joe Martin's right-wing corner at the far post.

The goal came against the run of play, and despite that set-back Bradford continued to have the better of things, Donaldson sending a Pritchard cross wide of the mark shortly before half-time as Bowyer's men sought a way back into the contest.

The second period saw the Bantams continue to press, and although they struggled to really open up their visitors despite seeing plenty of the ball, Donaldson looked set to level matters, only to see his 70th-minute effort cleared off the goal-line.

That moment seemed to be cue for City to start turning the screw, however Vadaine Oliver almost moved Northampton out of sight, his header forcing Richard O'Donnell into an excellent tip over at the other end.

Having got back on terms, Bradford continued to pour forwards, but O'Donnell was required to thwart Oliver from close range once again in the 85th minute.

And moments later only some superb last-ditch defending by Connor Wood saved the hosts as Town conspired to butcher a two-on-one chance on the counter-attack.

And then, within 60 seconds, the Bantams netted their late winner, centre-half O'Connor demonstrating a cool head inside the opposition box.

There was still time for Ismail to be sent off for a second bookable offence following an off-the-ball clash with Jordan Turnbull, though City's 10 men comfortably negotiated the closing minutes, much to the delight of the home supporters.