Bradford City 0 Port Vale 0: Always destined to be a draw, reflects McCall

Bradford City's Nat Knight-Percival heads wide.
Bradford City's Nat Knight-Percival heads wide.
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STUART MCCALL began his second spell in charge of the club where he became a legend as a player with a draw on the opening day of the season.

McCall’s first game as manager nine years ago ended 1-1 at home against Macclesfield and this time the former Scotland No 2 and Motherwell chief saw his Bantams held to a goalless draw despite forcing 10 corners before the hour-mark at Valley Parade.

McCall, who enjoyed a rapturous reception as he walked up the touchline to the dugout, had to contend with some defensive headaches at the start of a campaign in which City will at least hope to match last season’s play-off achievement.

Rory McArdle and Stephen Darby had already been ruled out of the opening month of the new season through injury and fellow defender Nathan Clarke missed out against Vale with a knock while new signing Matthew Kilgallon was deemed only fit enough for a place on the bench.

It left McCall to partner Nathaniel Knight-Percival with Frenchman Romain Vincelot in the heart of the defence, flanked by captain Tony McMahon and James Meredith.

Nicky Law began his third spell with the Bantams in central midfield alongside young Daniel Devine as Billy Clarke got the nod to partner James Hanson up front with young Huddersfield loanee Jordy Hiwula on the bench.

The visitors also began the season under a new manager in former Leeds and Sheffield United player Bruno Ribeiro.

With generous backing from Vale’s owners, Ribeiro has brought in 13 new players during the summer and they are up there in the betting for promotion.

Ribeiro employed a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rigino Cicilia the lone frontman.

Clarke went close to open the scoring in front of the Kop in the 11th minute when he hooked back a deep cross from Mark Marshall and saw the ball strike the top of the bar.

Law also curled wide a 25-yarder for City and Paulo Tavares scuffed wide a 12-yarder for Vale before Vincelot volleyed over following a corner and Law failed to hit the target after taking a return pass into the area from Clarke.

Devine’s goalbound shot was also cleared by Ben Purkiss following City’s fourth corner in the 30th minute but despite a couple of half-chances at either end, it remained goalless at the break, Hanson failing to get on the end of a low cross from McMahon.

Neither side made a change at the break and City forced a succession of unproductive corners in the early stages of the second half before Hanson failed to head home from close range an enticing cross from Felipe Morais.

Vale made a change - Christopher Mbamba for Anthony De Freitas - before Tavares fizzed a shot over the bar and was then booked for a challenge on McMahon.

Hiwula and Paul Anderson replaced Clarke and Morais and Vale’s Cicilia gave way to Anton Forrester.

Hanson sent wide a near-post header, Mbamba poked off target under pressure at the other end before failing to grab the winner from inside the six-yard area in stoppage time.

Substitute Quentin Pereira also hit wide with the last kick of the game after wriggling into the area.

McCall said: “It was nailed on it was going to be a draw today. All my three previous games as a debut manager have been draws.

“I’m really pleased with the first hour. We did get a bit desperate and tired in the back-end of the game.

“We just needed the most important thing – a goal. We put crosses in, played some good football, the tempo and energy was all there.

“We had players missing but overall the positives were the first hour’s performance and the clean sheet.”

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