Bradford 1 Wycombe 0: Bradford figure out way to gain home victory

ON Budget Day, the Chancellor is not needed to do the maths for Bradford City’s season.

James Hanson heads the ball across to Garry Thompson for the Bantams' opening goal.

The deficit between the Bantams and the play-offs may have been reduced to single figures last night courtesy of a long overdue victory in front of their own fans.

But City still need the kind of recovery that George Osborne is hoping to kick-start with the contents of his Red Box later today if they are to even come close to making the required late charge up the table.

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Seven points separate Phil Parkinson’s side from Rotherham United in seventh place and with the West Yorkshire club’s tally of games in hand now spent, a play-off berth still seems a long way off.

Still, at least Bradford started a run of three consecutive home games in 11 days with the three points manager Parkinson had demanded.

The Bantams were good value for the win, too, with Garry Thompson and Kyel Reid, in particular, ensuring that plenty of questions were asked of 
Wycombe Wanderers’ defence.

James Meredith’s return at left-back after a bout of glandular fever also helped as the Australian has, ever since joining from York City in the summer, brought a useful balance to the side.

This much was apparent against the Chair Boys as much in attack as defence, with Bradford not only looking a threat down both flanks but also restricting Gareth Ainsworth’s men to just one decent chance all night.

All in all, therefore, a highly 
satisfying night as City claimed a first league double of the season, Wycombe having been beaten 3-0 at Adams Park midway through last month.

Whether Bradford can build on their first league win at Valley Parade of the year remains to be seen.

But with home games to come against Bristol Rovers and Southend United before the end of March, the League Cup runners-up do at least have a foundation from which to try to push on in the quest for a place in the top seven.

Parkinson had sent out his side ahead of kick-off with a clear instruction to make better use of what had, at times, been some impressive delivery from the flanks in the weekend defeat at Exeter City.

Clearly, the message had hit home with it taking just 50 seconds for James Hanson to threaten the Wycombe goal with a firm header from Reid’s corner that Michael Harriman did well to clear off the line.

The same two Bradford players were then involved in what turned out to be the game’s only goal on seven minutes when another fine delivery from the right flank by Reid was headed back across the six-yard box by Hanson.

At St James’ Park three days earlier, a couple of similar chances had gone begging – which is why Parkinson had hauled his squad in on Sunday to get his point across.

Thompson had clearly been listening, the one-time Morecambe man reacting quickest to prod the ball through a mass of bodies and into the net.

It was only the second time City had gone ahead in the league on home soil in 2013 and, judging by how much pressure Parkinson’s side continued to apply to the visitors, they were clearly intent on avoiding a repeat of January 12 when Oxford United had come from behind to triumph 2-1.

First, Meredith, starting his first game since New Year’s Day, released Reid down the left and the winger drilled a low cross that Thompson prodded wide.

Then, after latching on to Hanson’s knock-down four minutes before the break, Zavon Hines shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area before Thompson just failed to reach a searching cross from Meredith.

The best Wycombe could manage by way of reply in the first half was a swift break by Josh Scowen which ended with Sam Wood heading harmlessly into the hands of the recalled Jon McLaughlin.

The visitors did, though, have a fantastic opportunity to equalise just five minutes after the restart when a slip in the City backline afforded Dean Morgan sufficient space to chip a cross into the six-yard bnox.

Matt McClure then rose unmarked to meet the ball only to inexplicably send his header over the crossbar to the frustration of the 68 away fans in a crowd of 8,047.

It was a major let-off for the Bantams, though considering they were the better team across the 90 minutes perhaps one that was deserved.

Certainly, City had several chances to put the game to bed in the second half with Thompson showing tremendous audacity to flick the ball over Dave Winfield wide on the left before hitting a rasping shot that flew just over the woodwork.

More impressive play by Thompson then saw the striker find Hanson, who headed back across goal only for the ball to just evade the on-rushing Rory McArdle.

An identical fate then befell an even better cross from Reid in the first minute of stoppage time as Hanson slid in at the back post hoping to apply the final touch before referee Eddie Ilderton blew the final whistle to the delight of Valley Parade’s lowest league crowd of the season.

Bradford City: McLaughlin; Darby, Davies, McArdle, Meredith; Hines (Atkinson 73), Jones, Ravenhill (Doyle 73), Reid; Hanson, Thompson (Wells 87). Unused substitutes: Duke, McHugh, Connell, Nelson.

Wycombe Wanderers: Archer; Harriman, Winfield, Doherty, Dunne; Grant (Ainsworth 66), Lewis, Scowen, Wood; Morgan (Morias 78), McClure. Unused substitutes: Ingram, Oli, McCoy, Kuffour, Hause.

Referee: E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).

Last night’s results round-up and latest tables: Page 22.