Bradford City 0 Oldham Athletic 1: Jewell enjoys his return but Bantams unable to sparkle

IF recent reports are to be believed, then the '˜special relationship' has hit a rocky patch.

Bradford City's Omari Patrick rises to control the ball ahead of Oldham Athletic's Dan Gardner (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

But while some may venture that Britain’s unique and historic friendship with the USA is not quite what it once was, at least Bradford City can count on the depth of feeling held by two revered club figures towards the claret and amber being a reassuring constant.

Ex-team-mates Paul Jewell and Stuart McCall shared in some golden times at BD8, most notably in leading the Bantams to the Premier League promised land for the only time in their history in 1999, when the former was manager and the latter was captain.

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Jewell found himself in the visiting dug-out at Valley Parade last night in his new capacity as assistant manager at Oldham, but the home crowd, though sparse in number, displayed an eye for nostalgia in handing the adopted Bradfordian a warm ovation before the kick-off following his recent return to the game.

We are approaching the season of goodwill, after all, although the competitive juices and will to win of McCall and Jewell will have ensured that there was no room for sentiment once last night’s Roses occasion got underway.

On the night, the away bench had rather more about which to be enthused as Bradford bowed out of the Checkatrade Trophy with a whimper to end Yorkshire’s participation in the much-derided competition comfortably before Christmas.

As expected, City rang the changes, with the only players who started at the weekend being Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Alex Gilliead.

But unfortunately the supporting cast largely fluffed their lines after being handed the stage to impress.

Ultimately, McCall will have found out a bit more about his depth of quality in his squad, and sadly not all of it was positive.

Watched by a meagre attendance of 1,036, the decision of those of a City persuasion to stay at home was largely vindicated, with there being little to excite the home supporters, animated solely by a late spell of pressure as the hosts pressed to cancel out Tope Obadeyi’s early opener.

It was as if the home players had belatedly realised that the tie was actually of the knockout variety, with the vast majority of the evening having passed them by.

That was overwhelmingly the case in the first half, with Oldham producing an assured performance full of incisive passing, sharp movement and comfort on the ball, by contrast.

Their eye-catching display very much bore the traits of manager Richie Wellens, a composed midfielder who enjoyed his peak years under a footballing technocrat at Doncaster Rovers in Sean O’Driscoll, with the Latics full value for their interval advantage.

The strike arrived just three minutes in when the dangerous Obadeyi, who posed Luke Hendrie distinct problems with his pace, cut in from the right before unleashing a precision angled low shot that flew past Lukas Raeder.

The Bantams’ reaction was tepid and lacked fluidity, with experienced midfield pair Dan Gardner and Paul Green controlling the game for the Latics with authority.

A second goal almost arrived when a well-struck effort from ex-Sheffield United man Ryan Flynn fizzed just wide, while City were indebted to alert defending on two occasions from Adam Thompson to prevent further damage.

The issues all belonged to the hosts, with Dominic Poleon coming on at the start of the second half, although McCall resisted the urge to make other early changes while no doubt waiting to see if his side could provide a pertinent response.

City did inject a touch more urgency into their play and had more possession, but palpably lacked craft, with Oldham still afforded a fair degree of comfort, albeit without putting the game to bed.

Clear-cut chances still resembled imposters for the hosts, with Shay McCartan firing wildly over, while a pull-back from Omari Patrick that was simply begging to be converted flashed across goal with no home player in proximity, summing up City’s unsatisfactory evening.

At least a single-goal deficit provided Bradford with an inkling of hope heading into the final quarter.

A cameo of action saw chances at both ends, with Gardner’s fierce volley whistling just wide before substitute Paul Taylor went close with a stinging shot.

At the other end, Obadeyi almost settled it with his low shot clipping the post, but one goal was enough.

Bradford City: Raeder; Hanson, Thompson, Knight-Percival, Hendrie; Gilliead (Poleon 45), Pybus (Law 68), Devine, Gibson; McCartan, Patrick (Taylor 75). Unused substitutes: Sattelmaier, Kilgallon, Vincelot, Staunton.

Oldham Athletic: Placide; Dummigan, Gerrard, Bryan, Brian Wilson; Gardner (Omrani 81), Green; Nepomuceno (McLaughlin 77), Flynn (Fane 69), Obadeyi; Doyle. Unused substitutes: Ben Wilson, Clarke, Davies, Menig.

Referee: D Webb (County Durham).