Like many other City fans, I have often bemoaned our unenviable ability to end all kinds of runs of form. More often than not we are the side which a team will beat to end a run of nine losses on the bounce, but every so often we bring a team with a blistering run of form to a shuddering halt, this very occasion happened at Valley Parade last night.
As Bury arrived in West Yorkshire on the back of a 17 game stretch unbeaten, they were understandably confident. They walked out in front of a massive 17,575, a decent 625 of that were their own fans. Crowds like this have proven in the past to be, ironically a bit of a downfall for the Bantams, visiting sides relish the occasion and perform over the odds, Bury, as confident as they had to be seemed a little overawed by the crowd (their Greater Manchester derby versus Rochdale on Saturday attracted less than half that number.)
A cagey start for both sides saw the threats of Bury’s Leon Clarke and City’s Devante Cole negated by their opposing defences. McArdle in particular looked well matched against a Clarke who has already got seven goals to his name in the league this season. City fans seem to have become quite accustomed to referees who refuse to let any kind of flow to take place in City’s games, this was again the case as the ref’s whistle became a constant feature of the Tuesday night soundtrack.
In fairness to the referee the fouls weren’t all given in the visiting side’s favour, City’s left side in particular became a popular area for the ref to blow his whistle and point. Meredith and Reid are looking like the combination which terrorised defences a few years ago, Meredith was tugged down just by the corner flag which resulted in a free-kick, which then resulted in a corner. The corner came to nothing as the pedantic Mr Bond proved again his License To Kill.. the game, blowing up for an innocuous foul.
City continued applying the pressure on the Bury goal, winning another couple of corners, and consequently giving away fouls. Just before the half-time whistle, however, City had a corner from which the referee miraculously didn’t spot a foul, and furthermore Rory McArdle made a classic near-post run to give City a deserved lead going into the break.
It’s a tired adage that right on half time is the best time to score in a football match but it has to be said that it seemed the case in this game. City came out for the second half to rapturous applause from the City faithful, who 20 minutes previously were becoming a bit fractious and frustrated. This frustration was very much reserved for the referee it has to be said. Bury came out of the break fired up and had chances to level the scores. Tom Soares hit a shot wide before Reece Burke was called upon to clear a Joe Riley cross from the line.
Once the Bantams had settled into the second half they began to assert their dominance on the match. James Meredith looked positive and went on a run which resulted in another City corner. McMahon swung the ball in and the man who can’t stop scoring for Bury nearly added himself to City’s list of goal scorers but will have breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the ball hit the side netting. The next corner did provide the own goal which Clarke had narrowly avoided moments before. The two Reeces on the pitch combined, City’s Burke headed goalwards and Bury’s Brown did the rest, deflecting the ball past a helpless Rob Lainton in the Shaker’s goal.
City were cruising towards an impressive third win on the bounce, much to the home fans delight City kept on attacking, chances came and went for the likes of Knott and Evans, but the best chance fell to the provider of City’s two goals; Tony McMahon. Devante Cole teed up the former Blackpool man twenty yards out, his stinging effort was tipped over by Lainton for yet another City corner. The resulting corner looked promising as Lainton seemed to struggle to hang on to it, but rather predictably the ref had his whistle in his mouth.
It was around this time in the match where fans, bizarrely, started flashing their torches on their mobile phones. I am yet to find a reason behind why this happened, but hey, we’ll sing about pies and turn VP into a Westlife concert if we want.
After controlling a large part of the second half Bury started to claw themselves back into the game, City weathered a period of pressure from the Shakers which included a series of three corners, they survived through some good defending from James Hanson and of course, Mr Bond’s whistle. I reckon he just hates corners.
Tom Pope had been brought on earlier for earlier substitute Hallam Hope and he looked the man most likely for the visitors, his shot was smartly saved by Ben Williams in the City goal who would have been hoping for a welcome clean sheet.
After surviving this period of attacking from Bury, City settled back into the game winning further corners and generally keeping the home fans happy by keeping the ball down towards the Kop. Most of the people inside VP were certain that City should’ve had a penalty when the ball seemed to bounce of Peter Clarke’s hand, Mr Bond was having none of it. Devante Cole and Kyle Reid went off to rapturous applause and tailored chants after putting in a solid shift, they made way for Luke James and Mark Marshall respectively. A bit of handbags and a disallowed goal seemed to wrap the game up before the unthinkable happened and Bury went and pulled a goal back. With ghosts of Sheffield United fresh in the memory, City fans had a very uncomfortable minute or so to sit through after Danny Rose finished for the Shakers. Marshall could’ve alleviated the pressure immediately but, much to the crowd’s frustration fired straight at Lainton. Luckily the ref gave his whistle one last blow and called time on a great win for City.
City move up to eleventh and fans can start looking at the table with a bit of ‘what if’ for the first time this season.