Bradford City Women got back to winning ways on Wednesday night with a 5-1 victory over local rivals Guiseley Vixens.
It took the Bantams over half an hour to break the deadlock, but once they did, the floodgates opened, with Alarna Fuller’s first half header starting things off.
A few minutes later, it was two, Olivia Thackray with an effort from distance, whilst another header from Fuller, a strike from Shauna Legge and a contender for goal of the season from Thackray wrapped up the three points after the break.
City came into the game expecting a real battle, not just because they were facing one of their local rivals, but because Guiseley were without a win in the league this season and would be more than keen to break this duck in a derby match.
However, the hosts viewed this as a must-win themselves, having fallen to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Preston North End at the weekend.
It was Bradford who started on the front foot too, almost a goal up within four minutes. Sarah Danby, playing as part of a front two with Hannah Campbell, latched onto the ball and tried to feed left wing-back Rosie McDonnell, but the ball instead fell kindly for her strike partner. However, Campbell’s effort was partially saved by the ‘keeper, slowing it down to allow defenders to get back and clear.
At the other end, Guiseley’s number 10 was lively throughout the evening, and she came even closer to breaking the deadlock just a few moments later, evading some half-hearted tackles to find plenty of space in midfield to strike at goal, only to see her attempt cannon off the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.
She tried her luck again less than a minute later, but this time saw the ball land on the roof of the net as she tried to spark her side into life.
Nonetheless, City remained in control of the game as good work from Legge allowed Charlotte Stuart to pick up the ball in the area, the midfielder turning her defender inside out before seeing a shot saved at the near post.
The resulting corner was headed behind by a Guiseley defender, but the second set piece was more dangerous, Fuller seeing her header cleared off the line before Faye Boshell had a goal ruled out for offside from Chantelle O’Hara’s cross back in.
The captain was almost wheeling off in celebration in the 22nd minute too, O’Hara again with the superb delivery from a corner, but Boshell’s header was this time blocked on the line.
Just as the Bantams looked to be nearing an opening goal though, Stuart the next to come close when her effort from distance landed on top of the net, Guiseley were very nearly in down the other end.
With half an hour played, a short back pass to Carey Huegettin the City goal resulted in her clearance being chased down and blocked, with the loose ball fired goalwards by the visitors’ striker, only for Fuller to save the day with a block on the line.
Still, she couldn’t make the necessary contact to clear, which almost gifted Guiseley another chance, but Huegett was there this time to deal with the danger.
The away side looked set to enjoy a decent spell at this point, the resulting set piece falling to their midfielder on the edge of the box whose strike was blocked again by Fuller, before another shot from range tested Huegett a couple of minutes later.
However, moments after Danby had turned and struck just wide, City broke the deadlock, Fuller emphatically heading home another super corner from O’Hara, the defender’s effort crashing off the underside of the bar and in with 33 minutes gone.
Less than five minutes later, the Bantams made it two. Stuart’s persistence paid off in the middle of the park, with her winning the ball via a strong tackle before evading a sliding challenge to tee up Thackray, who spotted the ‘keeper off her line and proceeded to lob her from 30 yards.
Guiseley threatened a few times before the interval, but the score was 2-0 at the break, with Fuller and Paige Crosby coming up with some vital interventions in their own box to ensure the two goal lead stayed intact.
Whilst Bradford City Supporters Trust handed the club a cheque at the break, continuing their marvellous support for the community, the Bantams opted for a change on the pitch – both in personnel and formation, with the team switching to a 4-1-4-1 set-up as Abi Lee was introduced at the expense of Campbell.
Dropping to just one up front hardly hindered City going forward though, as, within four minutes of the restart, they were three ahead. The goal came from a well-worked free-kick on the right, Legge faking to deliver before Danby drilled an inviting cross into the box, which met Fuller’s near post run as she brilliantly headed the ball into the top corner for her second of the day.
Chances continued to come as the Bantams’ set piecescontinued to be particularly strong on the evening, with few bad deliveries to speak of. A corner from Danby was the next to pose problems, producing a goal mouth scramble, but, after several goal-bound efforts from the City players were blocked, McDonnell could only slice a shot over the bar from close range.
Guiseley too looked to threaten from dead ball situations, firing a free-kick just a yard or so over the bar from an angle within the first 10 minutes of the second half, but their best chance of the game came from open play five minutes later when City were suddenly exposed on the break.
The visitors’ were through down the left wing, but their attacker opted to take the shot on early, as opposed to running into the space ahead of her and one-on-one with Huegett, which resulted in her effort flying wildly off target after a promising move.
Substitute Lee looked to have an impact from a set play on the hour, but her first time volley on the edge of the box from Danby’s corner just sailed over the bar as City looked to extend their three goal advantage.
Instead, Legge would be the one to do this, adding City’s fourth of the day with less than 20 minutes to play. Stuart created the goal, racing down the left and skilfully losing her marker before cutting the ball back to her teammate, who was able to convert with the help of the post to make it 4-0.
Guiseley were keen to register some pride though and really pushed for a goal in the final 10 minutes, with them coming especially close through a free-kick in the 83rd minute. The delivery was a teasing one, drawing Huegett out of her area, but the ‘keeper was beaten to the ball by an attacker, whose header was directed just inches over the bar.
Another chance came less than a minute later, with a long ball forward by the visitors resulting in their striker breaking through, only for her to fire over the bar when one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
They would eventually get their consolation, and it went to their liveliest performer too, number 10 finding the top corner from distance to narrow the deficit to just three in the final minute of the 90.
City will be disappointed with the goal however, with there no pressure on the ball in the middle of the park, and they channelled this frustration through an attack immediately from the restart - the ball fired into Danby who chested and half-volleyed at goal, only for the Guiseley ‘keeper to make an excellent save with her leg.
Thackray followed this up with an even better attempt just moments later though, and was more successful as she addedCity’s fifth. The midfielder, now playing at left-back, ventured forward and received the ball from 25 yards out, lifted it over the head of an onrushing defender and then volleyed first time into the top corner to seal victory with an outrageous goal, the final score reading 5-1.
The result certainly reflected the game, with the Bantams dominant throughout, demonstrating plenty of creative play and being clinical with their chances.
They will take countless positives from the performance too as they prepare to visit Derby County on Sunday, who boast three wins from three so far this season, before making the trip to Guiseley for the reverse of this fixture on Wednesday night.
Photos: Alex Daniel