Bradford City Women continued with winning ways on Sunday as they progressed to the next round of the League Cup with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United.
City dominated throughout the afternoon and broke the deadlock after 24 minutes through Katie Nutter, the new signing making her full debut after an appearance off the bench against Sporting Albion last weekend.
Sarah Danby, creator of the opening goal, came close to doubling the lead before the break when she hit the bar, but, although the woodwork thwarted her on this occasion, it would be City’s number nine who made it 2-0 later on in the game, with 19 minutes to go.
Newcastle did halve the deficit late on, but City never looked in danger of letting their lead slip as they comfortably ended the game in front to progress to the second round of the competition.
The outing promised to be a tough one for the Bantams, as they travelled north to face the early pacesetters in the league. Newcastle had won both of their fixtures so far this season and topped the table on goal difference, and thus City would be keen to head home with a win to send a message out to the rest of the division, as well as to take them into the next round.
The hosts started well, forcing a good save out of Bradford’s Chloe Precious after just eight minutes, but it was the visitors who took the lead with 24 played, which led to them dominating the first half.
Charlotte Stuart came close to opening the scoring just five minutes prior, seeing her goal-bound effort well blocked by the Newcastle defence, but it was Nutter who broke the deadlock – Danby teeing her up on the edge of the area to coolly find the bottom corner.
Whilst Newcastle continued to be restricted to efforts from distance by the Bantams’ well organised defence, City went in search of a second, and created a number of opportunities for this in the closing minutes of the half.
Six minutes before the break, neither Danby nor Stuart were able to connect properly with the ball as it bounced around the hosts’ six-yard area, with the Newcastle goalkeeper eventually collecting it after a nervy moment for her side, but it was two minutes later when City’s opponents were really counting their lucky stars as Danby’s effort cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and was cleared off the line, despite Bradford appealing for the goal.
From this, Newcastle could have equalised, however, countering quickly to catch City by surprise on the break as they threaded their striker through on goal, but Precious closed down well and made herself big to put off her opponent, who fired high and wide.
The final chance of the half was another for the Bantams, this time falling to last week’s two-goal winger Hannah Campbell, but the summer arrival was eventually crowded out as she made her way into the area, with Newcastle able to clear and keep the deficit at just one at the break.
City were certainly good for their lead, but Newcastle were certainly not out of things yet, with glimpses shown by them that they were capable of getting back on level terms if their opponents didn’t take their chances and extend their lead.
Bradford were reminded of this just a few minutes into the second half too, switching off just moments after Paige Crosby and Danby linked up to try and create an opportunity, which allowed Newcastle to counter and set up a golden chance to equalise, only for the eventual shot to go just wide of the target.
Still, the visitors remained on top, with Nutter almost bagging hers and her side’s second of the game with just less than 20 minutes to go, Danby picking her out at the back post with a great cross from the right, only for the goal-scorer’s header to go straight at the ‘keeper.
However, less than a minute later, City finally grabbed that elusive second goal. Campbell’s great work created the chance, the winger pressing high up the pitch and winning the ball back off Newcastle’s centre-back, before squaring to Danby who made no mistake – taking her tally up to three for the season after just three games.
Bradford did have to endure a nervy end to the game, somewhat, though as a moment of real quality got Newcastle back in the contest with nine minutes remaining – a free-kick from 25 yards flying into the top corner wonderfully to narrow the score to 2-1.
Yet, City never looked like surrendering their lead in the final stages, with it instead them applying the pressure in search of a third, which nearly came in the 87th minute, but Stuart’s volley from 12 yards out was just inches away from sealing the victory.
In the end, it was a dominant performance from the Bantams, with the scoreline flattering the hosts who struggled to get into the game, bar a few bright moments – City just unable to convert more of their chances.
There were countless positives to take from the game, especially against such an in form opponent, and Bradford will head into Sunday’s return to league action, away to Preston North End, high in confidence as a result.
The draw to determine City’s next opponents in the cup will be made on Monday 14 September.