Bradford City: Trueman show fails to bring change in Bantams’ fortunes
Across in Bradford, they would just settle for a plain old revival and return to life.
John Sheridan is Oldham’s very own version of Red Adair.
A safe pair of hands with a hard hat for a hazardous situation and someone capable of grabbing the club’s players by the scruff of the neck, organising them and clearing out the clutter in their minds and inspiring a bit of hope.
He even had a Hope in his line-up on Saturday.
It was a day when Oldham moved out of the bottom two, with Sheridan well down the road towards securing a third successive survival act in his proud association with the club. His adoring Latics public sang his name not just with heartfelt warmth and appreciation but reverence.
How managerless Bradford require their own source of inspiration with the club hierarchy facing another key decision.
Do they go for a short-term fix to try and rescue their season? They are nine points adrift of seventh-placed Swindon Town, having played a game more.
City have 14 games left in the 2021-22 campaign; a season when promotion was seen as a bit of a ‘non-negotiable’ at its outset.
Do they bring in someone to shake up the players; a bit of a tubthumper. Maybe someone like Steve Evans, reportedly at Boundary Park on Saturday.
Or do they stick with caretaker manager Mark Trueman to buy some time in their search for the permanent successor to Derek Adams.
The pool of candidates may be better at the end of the season, but can City afford to wait?
Bantams supporters, who came to Oldham again in their numbers, crave consistency in terms of decent results. They are also crying out for entertainment.
They have had precious little of late and, of course, it was a typically depressing Oldham script.
City conceded twice in the first half in front of their fans in the Chadderton Road End who braved the sleet and snow to attend. They were justified in thinking why they had bothered as their side attacked Oldham with paper swords.
Defeats at Boundary Park previously ended Gary Bowyer’s tenure at City and Stuart McCall suffered that fate on not one occasion, but twice.
A fourth straight loss may not finish off another manager, given that Trueman is only a caretaker, but it might just have ended City’s season as a competitive entity. Many of those among their 1,985 travelling support would have been forgiven for feeling that.
After the familiarity under Adams, the Trueman show was not markedly different. City opted for a lone striker and a 4-2-3-1 formation. Despite numbers, they lost midfield, with the game passing by the likes of Elliott Watt and Callum Cooke in particular.
Levi Sutton looked up for the battle, but few others did on a day when the painstaking work of Oldham’s groundstaff to get the game on bore fruit for the hosts.
Those in blue jerseys played the conditions better and outsmarted and outfought City. Defenders did their jobs and Barnsley lad Callum Whelan and Christopher Missilou governed the middle of the pitch.
They had a potent outlet on the flank in Nicky Adams, still a force at 35 and two strikers in Hallam Hope and Davis Keillor-Dunn who posed no end of problems for City’s flaky backline, in the first half in particular.
It was no surprise they were the scorers of Oldham’s goals.
The first arrived when City switched off at the near post after an excellent corner from Adams. Hope nipped in and glanced a header home and might just have said: ‘thank you very much’ to the obliging visiting backline.
Soon, it was two when Keillor-Dunn headed home in splendid isolation at the far post after Andy Cook’s miscued headed clearance from Adams’s free-kick. That was enough for Oldham, who focused on game management after that.
Yann Songo’o’s fierce shot which grazed the bar early in the second half might have made things interesting. But it didn’t.
A forgettable day got worse when Paudie O’Connor was dismissed after tangling with Hope. It looked ‘six of one and half a dozen of the other. After a brief melee, O’Connor walked and the salt was applied when substitute Tom Elliott saw a late header ruled out for a ‘foul’ on home keeper Dan Rogers which looked soft.
Unfortunately, soft was the apt word to describe City’s showing in a season going nowhere fast.
Oldham Athletic: Rogers; Clarke, McGahey, Piergianni, Hart; Missilou (Hunt 89), Whelan; Adams,; Keillor-Dunn, Stobbs (Vaughan 87); Hope (Obadyei 79). Substitutes unused: Leutwiler, Fage, Diarra, Couto.
Bradford City: Bass; Hendrie, Songo’o, O’Connor, Staunton (Cousin-Dawson 43); Watt, Sutton; Gilliead, Cooke (Elliott 53), Delfouneso; Cook (Robinson 83). Substitutes unused: Evans, Daly, Kelleher, O’Donnell.
Referee: A Backhouse (Cumbria).