Bradford City's pleasant performance lacks a killer touch in 0-0 draw with Colchester United

Bradford City played some nice football on a pleasant September afternoon as competitive football returned to Valley Parade for the first time since February.

At full-time, though, they had to be content with sharing the points. It was all a bit too nice.

For all their good football, the Bantams did not create enough clear-cut chances against a Colchester United side who were four points and three placers above Bradford when League Two was called to a premature halt last season.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Relax! Relax!” shouted manager Stuart McCall early in the second half.

AERIAL: Kurtis Guthrie and Dylan Mottley-Henry challenge Colchester United's Cohen Brammall for the ball

“Plenty of time, keep doing the right things!” came the shout from the field with ten minutes to play, but ultimately a bit more urgency was needed.

Lee Novak had a good double-chance early on, as Reece Staunton did with the final two kicks of the game but there was not enough goal threat in between. Clayton Donaldson gave his side extra impetus from the bench, but when Staunton provided an excellent cross for him, the striker headed wide.

Generally, though, it was a positive afternoon for McCall's side, with not much at the other end to stop them keeping a second clean sheet.

With McCall directing operations stood up six rows back in the main stand and his assistant Kenny Black in the technical area, Bradford made good use of the early-season pitch, passing the ball around nicely and looking particularly threatening when they went down the right-hand side.

With only Jervani Brown up front for the Us and holding midfielder Elliot Watt on hand to deal with Noah Chilvers in the hole, right-sided centre-back Anthony O'Connor recognised the opportunities to get forward and right wing-back Dylan Mottley-Henry tucked into the channel at times.

Colchester won a couple of early corners but Bradford soon took control of the game, Mottley-Henry and Watt combining well to create a chance for Lee Novak in the ninth minute. Goalkeeper Dean Gerken saved well initially and Tom Eastman got back to keep the striker's follow-up out of the net. For all that they played well, it would be the Bantams' last really good chance of the half.

Kris Guthrie's chest control denied him the chance to make anything of a Connor Wood on the left and sliced his shot on the half-hour.

Late in the first period Colchester had their first spell of pressure, Brown gliding into space on the right and teeing up Kwarme Poku but Richard O'Donnell, on his 32nd birthday, saved well, and a couple of minutes later Wood blocked a shot from the winger.

The Us started the second half well but a bobble caused Harry Pell to balloon his effort and when Billy Clarke overhit a pass, no one could get a touch to the cross Cohen Brammall flashed over.

Bradford regained their composure, Wood having a shot smothered after linking well with Clarke and Callum Cooke hitting a volley wide after more good play down the right.

The Bantams looked better for Donaldson's 72nd-minute introduction, and he was soon teeing up Lee Novak to find the net after being played in behind the defence. He had been over-eager, though, and the offside flag was raised.

Gerken made a good low save from another substitute, Harry Pritchard, but it was Donaldson's 88th-minute chance which ought to have been taken, heading wide as Gerken jumped across his path.

Like the game as a whole, it was a missed opportunity.

Bradford City: O'Donnell; A O'Connor, P O'Connor, Staunton; Watt; Mottley-Henry (Ismail 72), Cooke (Pritchard 77), Clarke, Wood; Guthrie (Donaldson 72), Novak.

Not used: Longridge, Richards-Everton, Hornby, French.

Colchester United: Gerken; Welch-Hayes, Eastman, Smith, Brammall; Pell, Stevenson; Poku (Cowan-Hall 84), Chilvers (Marshall 90), Gambin (Senior 67); Brown,

Substitutes: Sowumni, Scarlett, George, Tovide.

Referee: R Joyce (Teesside).

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today.

Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers.

So, please - if you can - pay for our work. Just £5 per month is the starting point. If you think that which we are trying to achieve is worth more, you can pay us what you think we are worth. By doing so, you will be investing in something that is becoming increasingly rare. Independent journalism that cares less about right and left and more about right and wrong. Journalism you can trust.

Thank you,

James Mitchinson