I missed the Wigan humiliation. I've seen all the reaction to it and I understand why those who had to witness it were livid. But these things do happen. They shouldn't, of course, but they do. I've seen us concede seven at home before, and while it hurt it wasn't the end of the world. We didn't get relegated last time it happened, and we're not getting relegated this time.
I also missed Gillingham, having intended to go, which left a long trip to Bradford as my only festive football fix. And what an eventful match it was. We started appallingly, indeed I think the only time we'd touched the ball before conceding an early corner was when Aaron Martin shanked a straightforward clearance out of play to put us under pressure again. From where I was standing it appeared that Simon Eastwood shovelled a routine claim straight at the feet of Wyke who slammed in from close range. Apparently Ricardinho was in fact culpable but either way it was very sloppy.
The rest of the first half was harum scarum stuff. A mate said afterwards that we would have been 8 down at half time if it wasn't for Eastwood. I don't buy that. A goalkeeper is there for a reason, and ours did his job very well. As did our defenders, who put their bodies on the line to block countless City attacks. The fact that they all had so much to do was down to the lack of protection from our midfield and the home team's good play. We also had several decent chances to equalise, as both of our strikers squandered opportunities. Despite riding our luck I always thought we were still in the game. We were creating.
Hence I would not call our equaliser 'against the run of play'. Bradford had been kept largely quiet after the interval, and as we grew in confidence we looked more like scoring. The frustration was that, having done so, we conceded two more sloppy goals in quick succession. First Ruffels missed a tackle and failed to track back allowing McCartan to pick his spot in the corner. A good finish but could Eastwood have got closer to it? Then Dieng headed in completely unmarked, despite our captain being stood flat-footed barely two yards from him and no other Bantams player anywhere near the goal. Very disappointing. But we came back again, exerting more and more pressure which eventually told. I thought Payne coming on would help us unlock Bradford's defence once more, as they sat back and gave him space to play in. But he looked subdued to me and we ran out of ideas as the minutes ticked by. The late sending off only galvanised City and they saw out stoppage time with relative ease. So an entertaining game but a disappointing outcome.
Taken in isolation it's pretty much what you'd expect from an away game at a top 5 club. We're very much a confidence team, and while this performance showed shakiness and several lapses in concentration it also showed fight. I'm worried about some aspects of our team and performances, but I'm not having all the doom and gloom. Mid table in League One is not a disaster after our last 18 years.
Anything yellow and blue
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