Brad Halliday the star auditioner with contract decision looming as Bradford City see off Gillingham

With Bradford City’s play-off hopes so faint they are barely visible, the final few games of a wretched campaign are opportunities to stake claims.

In some cases, they are opportunities to stake claims for new contracts. In others, they are chances for players to claw back some credibility.

Brad Halliday falls into the former camp, as a whole-hearted defender who has arguably been Bradford’s most consistent performer this season.

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On his 100th appearance in Bradford colours, he made it abundantly clear why there is a clamour among fans for him to land a new deal.

Bradford City's Brad Halliday is out of contract at the end of the season. Image: George Wood/Getty ImagesBradford City's Brad Halliday is out of contract at the end of the season. Image: George Wood/Getty Images
Bradford City's Brad Halliday is out of contract at the end of the season. Image: George Wood/Getty Images

His long-range strike provided decisive in a fairly low-key affair, in which play-off hopefuls Gillingham fell to a 1-0 defeat.

After the game, Bantams boss Alexander could do little but wax lyrical about the 28-year-old.

He said: "The consistency we’re looking for is epitomised in Brad really, to be fair. He’s always a seven out of 10 for us, never drops out of that level and he deserves that winner today because he’s been superb for us.

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"Fair play to him, 100 games in two years, that’s the sort of resilience we’re looking for our team, never mind from one individual."

Any fears Halliday may not want to stay were allayed post-match, as he gave a pretty definitive answer when asked if he would like to remain a Bantam.

He said: “Definitely, yeah. Again, it’s something the club do, they wait until the season’s done and speak to us then so my main focus is on the last four games and finishing them as strongly as I can.”

Halliday was not the only individual to be singled out by Alexander, with goalkeeper Sam Walker earning plaudits for his heroics between the sticks.

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The stopper made two crucial saves in the first half, first tipping an Oli Hawkins header over the crossbar before keeping out a Conor Masterson effort.

Gillingham’s best spell of the game came in the middle section of the first half and the Bantams had Walker to thank for ensuring the visitors could not take advantage of it.

Alexander said: “I don't think he's been better than that to be fair. Sam knows there were no shots on target in the second half, that's the work that goes on in front of him.

"But we know if they do breach that, we've got a very good goalkeeper to beat. They were two important saves for us because at 0-0, we should've gone in the lead before that.

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"But that's what we know we have to work on. I think that defensive performance has been pretty strong apart from the odd nightmare.

“Moments can change games. We're trying to get a belief and a mentality that these moments can go for us or against us but we keep going along. It's so important that players come up with those. Certainly, I think, strikers and goalkeepers, because of where they work.

"Sam's made a couple of really big saves for us in the past since he's come in, he's been a very good character to bring in, he's quite a calm and composed person and I think he gives a lot of the young players and young defenders around him an air of calmness. Every credit to him but everyone put a lot into that game today to keep a clean sheet.”

Although a late surge into the top seven is not mathematically impossible, it is improbable. Even after the win over the Gills, the Bantams are eight points adrift with just 12 left available to them.

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However, the importance of ending the campaign with dignity cannot be underestimated. March was a bruising month for the Bantams, a month that put their issues under a harsh light as the team imploded.

It will be most likely be reflected upon as the month that killed their season, dissolving promotion hopes in a brutal fashion.

Bradford’s bounce back with wins either side of an Easter Monday draw has impressed Alexander, who has plenty of decisions to ponder as summer approaches.

He said: “I think it’s important, we know where we were before these three games. We were in a difficult moment and I think the players have shown exceptional strength of character to keep two clean sheets out of three games, win two of the games and get seven points out of nine.

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"I think we would have took that, certainly, three games ago. It was a difficult game but I think the players did all the professional things well. Then we had the quality to split the game in our favour. I thought there were some really good, strong performances today.”

Bradford City: Walker, Oyegoke, Platt, Kelly (Tomkinson 86); Halliday, Walker, Smallwood, Wright; Pointon (Wadsworth 90+4), Kavanagh (Richards 87), Cook.

Unused substitutes: Doyle, Chapman, Oduor, Smith.

Gillingham: Turner, Hutton, Masterson (Williams 75), Ehmer, Ogie, Malone; Coleman, Dieng (Andrews 67), Lapslie; Mahoney, Hawkins (Walker 75).

Unused substitutes: Morris, McKenzie, Clark, Clarke.

Referee: Ed Duckworth (Lancashire)