Bradford City 2 Shrewsbury 0: Law and Vuckic net in Bantams victory

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GOALS in each half from Nicky Law and substitute Haris Vuckic secured Bradford City their third successive League One victory as they moved within a point of leaders Scunthorpe United following a 2-0 win over managerless Shrewsbury Town.

Law forged the breakthrough with his first goal in City colours in his second spell at the club, firing home on 21 minutes - his previous strike for the claret-and-amber had arrived way back in January 2009.

City, who totally bossed the first period, lost their way somewhat on the restart, but secured the win deep in stoppage time from the spot.

Vuckic followed up his midweek strike in the Checkatrade Trophy against Bury by taking responsibility by assuming penalty duties in the fifth minute of added-on time after interval substitute Antoni Sarcevic was penalised for a foul on another replacement in Daniel Devine.

The loanee sent Jayson Leutwiler the wrong way as Stuart McCall’s side extended their unbeaten sequence at the start of the season to 12 matches, with Scunthorpe’s 1-1 home draw with Northampton further adding to the sense of well-being at the final whistle.

Law’s landmark strike gave City the interval advantage, with a single-goal lead being the very least that their efforts deserved.

Law coolly steered home a rebound low past Leutwiler after a quality move involving Jordy Hiwula and the recalled Filipe Morais unhinged the visitors, with the latter seeing his goalbound shot blocked by Abu Ogogo - with Law on hand to tuck home the loose ball with Leutwiler stranded.

It was a deserved reward for City, whose slick passing football caught the eye in a totally one-sided first half, with wingers Mark Marshall and Morais being influential on both wings.

The goal represented the ninth consecutive game in which Shrewsbury have gone behind.

McCall made one enforced change to his starting line-up following last weekend’s league victory at Chesterfield with Morais coming into the side in place of Josh Cullen, on international duty with the Republic of Ireland under-21s.

Cullen’s absence saw Law move inside to support Timothee Dieng in central midfield, with the hosts employing two wingers in a league game for the first time since the opening day of the season.

The first moment of genuine threat came from the hosts, with Dieng’s low shot held by Leutwiler after some good interplay between Stephen Darby and Hiwula.

City did not have look to wait for an opener from Law and not long after, Morais almost added a second for City following a weaving run, with the backtracking Jack Grimmer blocking his effort close to the goaline.

Timely defending from Shrews defender Joe Riley also saved the day just before the half-hour mark when he headed clear close to his line following Dieng’s cross - after City profited after Leutwiler spilled Morais’s curling free-kick, with the loose ball eventually headed over by Billy Clarke.

Shrewsbury brought next to nothing to the table in an attacking sense, with their best effort early on seeing Ian Black drag a low shot tamely wide, with the visitors forced into a rearguard action for most of the half.

In a bid to pep up the visitors, caretaker boss Danny Coyne made an interval change with Sarcevic replacing ex-Barnsley man Jim O’Brien, lucky to escape a first-half caution for a late challenge on Marshall.

Black did go into referee Dean Whitestone’s notebook in the first period for a poor tackle on goalscorer Law.

On the restart, Shrewsbury showed a bit more endeavour, with Ivan Toney spurning a decent free-kick opportunity from a promising position after ex-Town player Nathaniel Knight-Pervical fouled Black.

Black soon fired straight at the underemployed Colin Doyle, who was belatedly called into action after a quiet afternoon.

Strident appeals for handball against Darby were then rebuffed as Town started to pose questions at last.

After a slow start to the half, City pieced together their most threatening moment on the hour mark with Knight-Percival hooking over at full stretch from close in following Morais’s corner.

Whitestone, somewhat lenient in not penalising more Shrews players following some spicy challenges, then incurred the wrath of home fans after booking Hiwula for a challenge on Leutwiler in a half which was starting to become a little frustrating in comparison to the serene opening 45 minutes.

Midway through the half, City - rather more low-key on the resumption - suffered a scare when George Waring’s dipping shot landed on the roof of the net.

A foul by Clarke on Riley then presented another presentable free-kick opportunity for the visitors, but the chance was thankfully wasted.

At the other end, good interplay between Clarke and Hiwula ended in the latter firing a well-struck shot not too far over as the Bantams sought a relieving second to seal the points.

Good work by Law ended with his floated cross just evading Hiwula at the far post, with the loanee soon making way for fit-again Marc McNulty on 78 minutes.

The second goal just would not come for the hosts, with Law’s pull-back latched onto by McNulty, whose downward volley found its way to Clarke, who nodded over.

City survived a stoppage-time scare when Riley saw his floated header fly just wide of goal following a centre from substitute Mat Sadler.

The hosts sealed the deal in stoppage time when Vuckic coolly netted from the spot in front of the relieved Kop after Sarcevic’s foul on Devine.

Bradford City: Doyle; Darby, Vincelot, Knight-Percival, Meredith; Marshall, Law, Dieng, Morais (Devine 67); B Clarke (Vuckic 88), Hiwula (McNulty 79). Substitutes unused: Sattelmaier, N Clarke, McArdle, Kilgallon.

Shrewsbury Town: Leutwiler; Grimmer, El-Abd, Lancashire; Riley, Black (Mangan 90), Ogogo, O’Brien (Sarcevic 45), Brown (Sadler 71); Waring, Toney. Substitutes unused: Halstead, Leitch-Smith, Choulay, Ebanks-Blake.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northants).

Attendance: 17,703.