SHAY McCARTAN’S last goal for Bradford City prior to this weekend’s late winner against Swindon Town came on February 10, 2018.
On that day, he emerged from the substitutes’ bench following a goalless first half and scored to put his side back in front after visiting Bury had levelled things up within five minutes of falling behind.
His strike did not however prove decisive as the now-defunct Shakers bagged a stoppage-time equaliser.
Four different Bantams managers and a season-long loan at Lincoln later, it seemed as though history was repeating itself at Valley Parade on Saturday afternoon.
There were no goals in the opening period of the clash between City and Swindon, but the hosts eventually took the lead through Hope Akpan, only to be pegged back almost immediately by a Jerry Yates effort.
McCartan, on as a substitute, then found the net to put his team 2-1 ahead on 79 minutes, though crucially, on this occasion, they managed to see the game out, much to the Northern Ireland international forward’s delight.
“I am over the moon with the goal and to have come off the bench and made a difference,” he said.
“When I came on, all I was thinking about was trying to get a shot off and make a difference. I am glad I was able to do that.
“It was a brilliant win. Swindon are a good side and their position in the table does not lie. We played very well. It was one of our best performances of the season and we deserved three points.”
One of the most pleasing aspects of the victory for boss Gary Bowyer will have been the impact made by players who have not been regular starters this term for one reason or another.
McCartan, of course, made the decisive contribution when he drilled in from just outside the box, but Zeli Ismail, starting for the first time this term, was also excellent down the right flank.
And, it was he who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, striking the base of a post.
Akpan, recalled in place of the injured Matty Palmer also made an impression, heading City in front after Luke McCormick could only parry Clayton Donaldson’s swerving strike.
Bradford: O’Donnell, Mellor, P O’Connor (French 83), A O’Connor, Wood, Cooke, Ismail (McCartan 70), Akpan (Devine 82), Pritchard, Connolly, Donaldson. Unused substitutes: Hornby, Anderson, Henley, Oteh.
Swindon: McCormick, Hunt, Zakuani, Fryers, Iandolo, Grant, Lyden (May 86), Isgrove (Twine 86), Anderson (Doughty 46), Woolery, Yates. Unused substitutes: Benda, Rose, Broadbent, Curran.
Referee: T Nield (West Yorkshire).