Bradford City in need of control after toothless display against Walsall prompts more boos

Control was the word of the day at the University of Bradford Stadium.

So rarely have Bradford City appeared to be in complete control this season, even when ahead in games.

Their 4-1 win over Newport County last week was a rare instance of the Bantams truly putting a team to the sword.

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When Walsall arrived in West Yorkshire, normal service resumed.

Pressure is mounting on Bantams boss Mark Hughes. Image: George Wood/Getty ImagesPressure is mounting on Bantams boss Mark Hughes. Image: George Wood/Getty Images
Pressure is mounting on Bantams boss Mark Hughes. Image: George Wood/Getty Images

Bradford took the lead through Andy Cook but never truly wrestled control of the game from their opponents.

They certainly lacked control of their own box when two corners were swung in and resulted in Walsall’s second and third goals of the afternoon.

The set-piece goals came after Liam Gordon had levelled proceedings, cutting in from the left to find plenty of space and curling into the bottom corner.

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Walsall’s corners were then met by Aramide Oteh and Freddie Draper, clinching a 3-1 win for the Saddlers.

Pressure is mounting on Bantams boss Mark Hughes, who has led his side to just three wins across their opening 10 league games.

He was left irked by his side’s defending, a sentiment shared by the home fans inside the ground.

Speaking after the game, Hughes said: “I thought we started really brightly, I thought we were good value for our lead, albeit it was a little bit fortunate. We didn’t retain the lead for long enough and didn’t quite get the organisation around the set-play right.

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"Positionally, we were a little bit wrong. As a consequence, they’ve been able to get a run across our line and we find ourselves 2-1 down at half-time when really they hadn’t created a great deal and we’d been the better team.

"From that point onwards, you’ve got to do something about it and from their point of view, it’s perfect for them because they can get everybody behind the ball and then play on the break, which on a couple of occasions they did.

"They were able to get a corner and then we haven’t done our job at a set-play again.

"If you concede from set plays, then that’s going to hurt you. From that point, two goals down in terms of the scoreline, and we found it very difficult to create a great deal.”

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Boos rang out at the final whistle and not for the first time this season.

The only factor making the hostile reception less fierce was that the crowd had been left relatively sparse by a mass exodus.

For anyone inside the stadium, the air of discontent was palpable.

Hughes said: “There’s always boos when we lose, we have to accept that. [It was] justified today, [the] second half wasn’t where we needed it to be. We conceded poor goals.”

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Equally as alarming as Bradford’s defensive frailties was their inability to break Walsall down in the second half.

The valiant comeback fans were hoping for never came, as the Saddlers sat deep and frustrated the toothless Bantams.

Bradford remain promotion hopefuls but must begin taking control of games in order to take control of their season.

Bradford City: Lewis, Halliday, Platt, Stubbs, Ridehalgh; Oduor (Pattison 53), Gilliead (Oyegoke 53), McDonald, Tulloch (Smith 73); Walker, Cook.

Unused substitutes: Doyle, Kelly, Smallwood, Wilson.

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Walsall: Evans, Williams, Daniels, Gordon; McEntee, Oteh, Stirk, Hutchinson, Riley; Tierney (Knowles 81), Draper (Matt 75).

Unused substitutes: Smith, Foulkes, Griffiths, Johnson, James-Taylor.

Referee: Scott Jackson (Lancashire)