It is that time in the season when owners, fans and indeed managers start to take stock of how they have started the new campaign. Tom Love, our Bradford City Correspondent, gives you his take on the start the Bantams have made in League One…
Positive start for the Bantams
Being ten games into the season it’s good to review how it’s started for last years play off finalists Bradford City. After a large overhaul in the summer that saw stalwarts Stephen Darby, James Meredith, Rory McCardle and Billy Clarke all move on to pastures new, Bantams fans were unsure of what to expect for the 2017/18 campaign. There was no need to worry, though. It’s been a welcome sight to see newcomers such as Jake Reeves, Adam Chicksen and Dom Poleon fit seamlessly into the side.
Stuart McCall’s side kicked off the season with a win at Valley Parade against Blackpool with an unlikely hero. Young Striker Omari Patrick impressed the gaffer in pre-season and got the nod to start deputising for the injured Charlie Wyke, it was Patrick’s stunning strike that sealed an opening day victory. A solid 1-0 win away at Gillingham (usually a place where City struggle) followed courtesy of a Poleon Strike.
Blackburn came to West Yorkshire with an aim of ending the superb unbeaten run the Bantams have at Valley Parade and they were successful in doing so. Rovers set up with a flat back 5 and were very hard to brake down so credit to them. City had a chance to respond the following week at Walsall and it looked so positive, running into a three goal lead only to concede one, then another, and another. This was probably the most disappointing game of the season given the manner of the result.
Very impressive consecutive 3-1 wins against Bristol Rovers and Peterborough got us back to winning ways, the re-emergence of Charlie Wyke gave us something to play off up front as well as a greater goal threat in the box. The Peterborough game was the start of a mini scoring spree from captain Romain Vincelot, so strong in the air for a player who is only 5ft 10. It was the Frenchman that stole a point in the last minute at Oxford, finding space to get on the end of an excellent Nicky Law cross.
At this point in the season City fans could be pleased with the attacking prowess on show but slightly let down by the lack of clean sheets. That changed in the next two games though with back-to-back 1-0 wins against Rotherham and Northampton respectively, centre half pairing Nat Knight-Percival and Matt Killgallon were unbreakable despite both being predominantly left footed. The most recent game was not a result that City fans were expecting going down 3-0 at home to Fleetwood. Uwe Rosler’s side displayed a masterclass in counter attacking football, setting up similar to Blackburn did with five at the back which proved too rugged to break down. Going forward they couldn’t cope with the pace of ex Bantams Devante Cole and Jordy Hiwula who both, inevitably, got on the scoresheet.
Overall a record of played 10, won 6, drew 2 and lost 2 is one that City have to be happy with, especially with the brand of football being played.
Who has been the best player in your team ?
Quite a few have stood out, honourable mentions to Vincelot and assist king Tony McMahon but I’m going to say Jake Reeves. The all-energy central midfielder has the ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and boss the middle of the park, he’s always an option to pass to and his enthusiasm rubs off on his team mates and allows the side to play at a good tempo. He has a decent range of passing as well as the best Barnet in the league.
Who has been the most surprising player in your team?
I’d say purely for the surprise factor, Omari Patrick. With the likes of Wyke, Poleon, Alex Jones, Shay McCartan and Paul Taylor as attacking options at the club no one expected Patrick to get into the squad never mind the first team. Stuart McCall has put his faith in the youngster and he’s repaid that faith with some great goals against Blackpool and Oxford. Fast, tricky but still very raw, it seems the Bantams have a player with a great deal of potential.
How have you performed against expectations?
I feel the general consensus around Valley Parade will have been for another play off challenge given the volume of changes in the summer. I personally expected us to grow into the season as it went on however the team has gelled quickly which is great to see and has us sitting in 4th and averaging 2 points a game. Overall I’d say we have slightly overachieved but now the bar has been set it’s just about carrying that on for the rest of the campaign.