Bradford City Women grinded out a 2-1 win away at Loughborough Foxes on Sunday, keeping up their great 2016 form in the process.
The Bantams’ only winless game this calendar year came away at Super League side Yeovil Town in the FA Cup, and they were on track to keep up this great record when Alarna Fuller headed them in front after only six minutes.
However, the struggling Foxes put up a real fight and City had to ride their luck to avoid conceding an equaliser before the break – only to leak it five minutes after the restart instead.
Nonetheless, the three points were snatched late on as Fuller bagged her brace from central defence to give her side the three points.
Despite the eventual result and course of the game, City were well deserving of their early lead in the Midlands.
With just three minutes played, Sarah Danby’s corner provoked a goalline clearance, but the Foxes’ continued to defend shakily from set pieces and would be punished shortly after when Chantelle O’Hara’s delivery was powered in by Fuller.
Whether it was complacency and too much relaxation from the Bantams; an urge to respond quickly from Loughborough; or a mixture of the two – the hosts nearly equalised quickly when a defensive mix-up allowed them in.
However, Chloe Precious was on hand to made a good save on the line and claw the ball clear, with her opponent unable to maintain the composure required to finish.
The rest of the first half was very end-to-end, seeing both sides hit the woodwork but City keep their slender advantage.
Skipper Charlotte Stuart came close first as she hit the bar after connecting with a corner, before the Foxes followed suit 10 minutes later when a free-kick struck the upright.
The rebound of the hosts’ effort caused even more problems – Stuart clearing off the line, Precious making a double save off of that, and then another effort hitting the post. Loughborough were playing well on the counter, and really should have gone in at half time level.
Just as easily though, they could have been 2-0 down as Stuart released striker Amanda Ellsworth, only for the American to hit her volley wide of the target moments before the interval
City looked to have comes out in the second half much improved after some good early signs, but instead Loughborough would grab a deserved equaliser on 50 minutes.
The scorer of the opener; Fuller was at fault this time as she misjudged a long ball forward and allowed the Foxes in behind to beat Precious – just moments after the defender had missed a chance for her second goal too.
The centre-back would make amends when she clinched the three points late on, but first chances would come and go for the visitors – O’Hara on target but denied from range, whilst Ellsworth saw an effort pushed around the post.
The winner came with just seven minutes to go, and it was another great delivery from a corner that produced it. Again, Fuller’s movement was good to meet the ball and her execution of the header even better, with it flying past the ‘keeper to make it 2-1.
Able to see out the closing stages, this slender lead was enough for the Bantams to clinch the three points – making it back-to-back league wins after last week’s success at Nuneaton Town.
The performance was nowhere near the team’s best, but it’s the result that matters most, not the manner in which it’s achieved. Winning whilst playing poorly will be encouraging for Steve Winterburn and his side too, as it’s something they have struggled to do this season.
Next up for City is a local derby with Guiseley Vixens in the County Cup on Wednesday – with the winner to face Leeds in the final.