JERMAINE ANDERSON was criticised for a lack of fight by Grant McCann during his short loan spell at his former Peterborough manager’s new club, Doncaster Rovers, before the new year.
Rovers did not renew his loan spell, but Bradford City manager David Hopkin was happy to offer him a contract until the end of the season and believes he can turn the midfield player into a goalscoring striker.
The 22-year-old Arsenal youth product almost scored with his first touch, a clever back-heel, when introduced late into the fray against Plymouth and would have notched a stoppage-time winner had it not been for a last-gasp sliding intervention from Niall Canavan as David Ball attempted to play the ball across to him.
“I know I could have been an instant hero, but sometimes it is not to be. I just got myself in the box and had a bit of improvisation with the back-heel but the ’keeper saved it. We were pushing to the end, but did not manage to get the three points,” said Anderson.
“I have played up front a few times, but I am here just to work for the team. I will play anywhere the gaffer wants me to and put a shift in. I am naturally a midfield player, but if the gaffer wants me to play somewhere else I will do it to the best of my ability.”
McCann said Anderson would learn from being left out of the Rovers squad after being brought in as injury cover and the player is determined to rebuild his career with the Bantams.
“There is no pressure being on a short-term contract. It is more of an incentive than anything,” said Anderson. “You play for contracts and work hard regardless. The main focus, what we are all here for, is to keep Bradford City as a League One club. That’s what they should be – or even higher.
“League One is very tight, but we have to focus on ourselves.”
A failure to capitalise on forcing 11 second-half corners left Bradford next to bottom, but they are just five points shy of their 15th-placed visitors, who have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround since the start of the year when they were bottom.
Bradford will head to 18th-placed Walsall, who are just two points clear of the Bantams, on Saturday and confidence remains high in the camp that the drop can be avoided.
You play for contracts and work hard regardless. The main focus, what we are all here for, is to keep Bradford City as a League One club.Jermaine Anderson
Bantams’ chief Hopkin claimed: “On another day we should have had three points. We created chances, but had to be careful not to be caught by a sucker-punch.
“The roof would have come off Valley Parade if David Ball had scored that one at the end (Kyle Letheren rushing out forced him to attempt a pass rather than shoot).
“It’s that tight and we keep going. We deserve great credit for the way we have come back from where we were at the end of November.
“We were almost cut adrift, but have managed to come back. There are six or seven teams looking over their shoulders now. I am staying positive and I am sure the players are.
“Of course the pitch was a wee bit bobbly, but the players handled it well.
“It was a fantastic test of character after last week (a 1-0 home loss to Fleetwood) and they deserve great credit, every single one of them.”
On Anderson, he added: “I have watched him in training and I am sure he can play up there as a striker. He’s definitely not a holding player.
“He’s box to box and has a physical presence and is a fantastic finisher and was unlucky not to score.”
Lone striker Eoin Doyle, a former target of the Pilgrims, was also unfortunate not to net late on, his glancing header being tipped away by arching Pilgrims hero Letheren, who modestly said: “That was one for the cameras as I initially slipped going for it.”
The visitors had been on top in the first half and Graham Carey was unlucky not to score just before the break when his shot struck a post.
Livewire Ball responded in kind shortly after the break and City got on top as they attacked the Kop, but without getting that vital breakthrough their play deserved on a deteriorating pitch far from conducive to quick, inter-passing play.
The only negative note was a sixth booking of the season for midfield man Lewis O’Brien.
Bradford City: O’Donnell, Caddis, O’Connor, Knight-Percival, Chicksen, Butterfield (Akpan 80), O’Brien, Payne (Anderson 83), Ball, Clarke, Doyle (Miller 90). Unused substitutes:Mellor, Wood, Devine, Wilson.
Plymouth Argyle: Letheren, Smith-Brown (Threlkeld 70), Edwards, Canavan, Sawyer, Fox, Songo’o, Carey, Sarcevic, Lameiras (Taylor 65), Ladapo. Unused substitutes: Riley, Jones, Wootton, Jephcott, Macey.
Referee: E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).