Bradford City 0 Colchester United 0: More draw frustration for Bantams

Levi Sutton on the charge for Bradford City against Colchester. Picture: Tony Johnson.Levi Sutton on the charge for Bradford City against Colchester. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Levi Sutton on the charge for Bradford City against Colchester. Picture: Tony Johnson.
BRADFORD CITY manager Derek Adams's desire to witness a festive repeat has nothing to do with watching re-runs of Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials.

It has everything to do with viewing a passable impersonation of last December's form of his former club Morecambe - birthplace of one half of one of the country's greatest ever comedy double-acts.

His Shrimps side won five of their six League Two fixtures in the final month of 2020 to move from 14th place into the League Two play-offs, with that form earning Adams a manager of the month award.

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Adams's current team found themselves in that same mid-table position ahead of Wednesday's opening December episode.

Unfortunately this time around, there were no cheers and acclaim at the start of a month widely considered to be key in the football calendar. Just more of the same.

Given that draw-specialists City had drawn six of their previous nine games, this latest result would not have surprised too many. History showed that as well, given the fact that five of their last six home games against Colchester had also ended in draws.

This one was all the more grating given that City showed a real vibrancy and intent in the first half. Sadly, it could not be sustained as their lack of attacking teeth was exposed in the absence of top-scorer Andy Cook and Charles Vernam in particular in a poor second half which ended in boos from some Bantams followers.

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A night that started well but deteriorated markedly was almost salvaged at the death when Lee Angol got free, but fired over. His wait for a first home goal since mid-August continues.

At the other end, minutes earlier, Cole Skuse almost won it for Colchester. A disappointing night could have been a truly dismal one.

An image of Richard O’Donnell may have adorned the match programme front cover, but it was his deputy Sam Hornby who got the nod in goal after being handed his first league start since May in a headline call by Adams.

In the event, Hornby was a virtual bystander, certainly in the first half as City started in exactly the fashion that Adams would have been seeking after questioning their character of late, with some straight-talking arriving following their previous two games with Exeter and Scunthorpe.

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The hosts, returning to action for the first time in eight days, flew out of the traps with positive intent against a Colchester side in Cup action on Sunday, with the visitors on the ropes in the opening twenty minutes.

City’s tempo and movement in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation was eye-catching, as were some of their slick passages of play with Alex Gilliead at the heart of it.

It forced U’s keeper Jake Turner into some significant early work, turning away a half-volley from Angol and showing good reactions to beat out a fierce strike from Theo Robinson, while also keeping out a low shot from Angol following another enterprising move.

A key block from Luke Chambers also got in the way of a goalbound shot from Robinson following another polished move.

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Colchester were eventually afforded some respite after weathering the early storm, but there will have been relief that the game was still scoreless.

An indicator of the alarm of head coach Hayden Mullins’s alarm arrived in the fact that he made a tactical substitution to stiffen up central midfield in bringing on Brendan Wiredu. It was a shrewd one.

It was the replacement who helped post a warning to City early in the second half when he cashed in on momentary indecision in the middle ground to send Alan Judge clear, with Hornby's first key work being significant in narrowing the angle well and blocking his low shot in textbook fashion.

Colchester were growing into the game, with City much more sedate on the restart in comparison to the first - and scrappy from a home perspective. Things did not change, as the hosts grew desperate and unconvincing, despite changes.

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Colchester's defensive aptitude - with old stagers and long-time Ipswich former team-mates Tommy Smith and Chambers in the thick of it - had it far more to their liking after a dodgy first period. City made it increasingly easy for them.

Frustration gradually started to seep in among the home faithful, as City's creative department started to falter and it became much more of a December battleground on a cold Wednesday evening.

All the more irritating given the initial promise. But games last for ninety minutes, not 45.

Bradford City: Hornby; Threlkeld, O’Connor, Canavan, Ridehalgh; Watt, Songo’o (Evans 77); Gillead; Sutton, Gilliead, Robinson (Cooke 63), Angol. Substitutes unused: Foulds, Cousin-Dawson, Lavery, Kelleher, O’Donnell.

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Colchester United: Turner;Tchamadeu, Chambers, Smith, Daniels; Skuse, Chilvers; Jasper (Wiredu 41), Judge (Hannant 79), Dobra (Coxe 79); Sears. Substitutes unused: Gerken, McCoulsky, Tovide, Terry.

Referee: M Edwards (Tyne and Wear).