Late drama against Grimsby Town denies Stuart McCall winning return at Bradford City

Bradford City manager Stuart McCall. PIC: Simon Hulme.
Bradford City manager Stuart McCall. PIC: Simon Hulme.
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Stuart McCall started his third reign as Bradford City manager in the same fashion as his previous two - with a draw.

Bradford looked set to earn all three points in McCall's first game back in charge but former Bantams defender Luke Hendrie pounced in injury time to cancel out Lee Novak's opener in a 1-1 draw with Grimsby Town.

Bradford City players after Grimsby's equaliser. PIC: Simon Hulme.

Bradford City players after Grimsby's equaliser. PIC: Simon Hulme.

McCall was named Bantams chief for a third time on Tuesday after Gary Bowyer was sacked after picking up only 17 points from the last 45 available.

Bantams supporters gave their backing to the former City players' appointment as Valley Parade saw its highest crowd of the season, with 17,568 fans turning out.

And the home faithful gave McCall a standing ovation as he walked along the touchline to take his seat in the dugout.

The draw means Bradford are now eight games without a win but the stalemate with the Mariners wasn't down to a lack of effort.

After a cagey first half, which saw few chances come the way of their side, the game began to open up after the hour.

Callum Cooke lashed the ball toward the bottom corner but it deflected off Novak's shoulder and in on the 80th minute as the hosts looked set to end their winless run.

But Hendrie, who featured for Bradford during McCall's last spell as manager, got on the end of Charles Vernam's low cross to smash into the roof of the net from close range.

And the Mariners almost snatched victory with the last kick of the game but the ball was blocked on the line with Richard O'Donnell beaten.

City's form since the turn of the year has threatened to derail their bid to make an immediate return to League One with the play-offs looking their most likely route back into the third tier.

Bradford's home form is what has kept them in the promotion hunt, with only Northampton Town and league leaders Swindon Town boasting a better points return on home soil.

City looked to get on the front foot in the first half but despite enjoying lots of territory in the Grimsby half, they were unable to fashion any clear-cut opportunities.

The hosts had eight shots to the Mariners three in the opening 45 minutes but failed to test James McKeown in the Grimsby goal, with seven of their shots missing the target and the other blocked.

They also forced seven corners but the visitors dealt well with the threat from the set pieces.

The game began to open up after the hour with Clayton Donaldson prodding just wide after getting across his man at the front post.

At the other end, Vernam broke for Grimsby, sprinting toward goal from the halfway line before Connor Wood ran the width of the pitch to produce a superb block.

Ben Richards-Everton whipped a vicious cross across the face of goal and the ball only needed a touch but no Bradford player could get on the end of it.

Dylan Mottley-Henry's threatening cross was cleared by Hendrie before the late drama ensued to deny McCall a win on his return to Valley Parade.

Bradford City: O'Donnell; Henley, O'Connor, Richards-Everton, Wood; Connolly (Mottley-Henry 76), Cooke, Reeves, Pritchard (Akpan 85); Novak, Donaldson (Guthrie 71). Unused substitutes: McGee, O'Connor, McCartan, Middleton.

Grimsby Town: McKeown; Driscoll-Glennon, Pollock, Waterfall, Hendrie; Whitehouse (Green 85), Benson, Clifton (Grandin 63); Vernam, Hanson, Clarke (Tilley 75). Unused substitutes:Russell, Garmston, Ohman, Hewitt.

Referee: Mr S Martin.