Bradford City 1, Fleetwood Town 0. Fleetwood suffered the first defeat of their Football League campaign, losing to a determined Bradford City side in front of over 9,000.
Town were by no means outplayed and once more had various goalscoring opportunities, with the goalpost denying them on several occasions, but unlike Saturday’s fixture, they were punished by their opponents.
Manager Micky Mellon made one alteration to the side which drew 0-0 with Torquay at the weekend, with Junior Brown impressing enough for a place in the starting line-up at the expense of Andy Mangan.
Bradford boss Phil Parkinson gave Zavon Hines his league debut, while Nathan Doyle made his first league appearance for City since 2007 after re-signing for the club in the summer.
Nahki Wells’ goal in their 3-1 defeat to Gillingham earned him a promotion from the bench, while Andrew Davies made his first start after signing permanently for the club from Stoke City.
Brown was busy for Town, holding off pressure to thread a low ball across the penalty area after 10 minutes which was deflected just out of Jamie McGuire’s reach.
City ‘keeper Matt Duke punched clear a Barry Nicholson free-kick after 11 minutes, while McGuire headed over the bar from a corner two minutes later. A long ball in to Jon Parkin from Shaun Beeley resulted in a foul given against the striker in the box.
Town looked nervous to begin with, while Bradford moved quickly going forwards, particularly pacey winger Kyle Reid. The player in question made a darting run into the area after 18 minutes, turning past Steve McNulty in the process, but Beeley was on hand to block his subsequent shot.
Youl Mawene met the resulting corner and his header deflected erratically off Dean Howell, standing behind him, to create a minor moment of panic for Town.
Luke Oliver nodded well over from a Gary Jones free-kick, while at the other end of the pitch Parkin won a foul on the very edge of the area, but Howell’s set-piece was disappointing, a low cross which struck the Bradford wall and went out for a throw-in.
Mawene headed wide from another set-piece before Town had their best chance of the half on the 26th minute.
Parkin spotted David Ball racing into space and sent a delightful through ball into his path, which the 23-year-old latched onto with ease to unleash a curling strike against the crossbar from the edge of the area.
Damien Johnson, quietly productive for Town, set up Ball again 13 minutes later, who showed good control but his shot was blocked.
On the 33-minute mark Brown showed awareness to touch the ball with his head to the left where Parkin was lurking, but the striker’s volley was rather soft and easily caught by Duke at his near post.
Beeley was more than a match for another Reid-charge down the left, while Rory McArdle’s cross was too high for James Hanson to reach. Nahki Wells’ backheel to Reid thwarted Town’s full-back moments later, but Howell was on hand to clear the danger.
The Bantams started strongly after the interval, a cross from Reid headed clear by Mawene and an angled strike from Hines deflected onto the crossbar. It was Hines on the attack again moments later, charging past Beeley but succumbing to the effects of a marginally waterlogged pitch, as the move was slowed right down due to the damp turf.
Mellon made his first substitution after 56 minutes, bringing on Mangan in place of Ball.
Bradford rippled the net after Oliver’s strike narrowly crept past the outside of the post on the 57th, but the home supporters were celebrating for real three minutes later.
Good work from Jones in the middle set Wells off on a run down the left flank past McNulty. A corner was won and it was Hanson with a simple header at the far post from Jones’ inswinging cross to send the crowd into raptures.
Town almost replied immediately as Beeley won a corner which just evaded the head of Mawene.
The ball fell to Parkin, who showed great skill to cut inside and turn past James Meredith only for Duke to save his efforts.
It was Bradford, however, who were dominating the second half, backed by an extremely vocal crowd at Valley Parade. A superb attacking move saw Reid cut the ball back into the area for Wells, which forced an excellent diving save from Scott Davies.
Fleetwood still continued to push their opponents and Mangan came so close to equalising, heading a perfect cross in from Johnson against the post on the 68th minute, with the Bradford defence quickly clearing the danger.
Five minutes later, Barry Nicholson played an accurate ball into Mangan from the halfway line, who made a deft first touch with his chest to bring it down to his feet, but his shot from the edge of the area was uninspiring and Duke collected his efforts untroubled.
City maintained their threat as Davies stopped Reid’s strike from inside the area, the midfielder ballooning the rebound high and wide.
A double substitution was made eight minutes from time, Mellon bringing on Steven Gillespie and debutant Alex Marrow for Brown and McGuire respectively as the manager put all his efforts into finding an equaliser.
As the game faded, Nicholson’s cross into the area just cut past the corner of the post, Parkin unable to reach it, while the midfielder sent a free-kick into the stands during the dying stages.
Scott Davies 6 - Not threatened until second half where he made some good stops.
Shaun Beeley 6 - Was sharp both at the back and going forwards.
Dean Howell 6 - Likewise, linked up well with Brown.
Steve McNulty 6 - Pace of Bradford wingers a threat but tidy at the back.
Jon Parkin 7 - Carried on good form with plenty of action up front.
Barry Niocholson 6 - Creative and provided forward line with good service.
Junior Brown 7 - Looked bright and dangerous.
Jamie McGuire 6 - A little subdued compared to normal but worked hard.
Damien Johnson 6 - Composed on ball and sent in many a cross from deep midfield.
David Ball 6 - Busy and hassled defence, should have scored.
Youl Mawene 7 - Solid got a head to everything and intimidating at set pieces.
Town subs: Mangan (for Ball, 56); Gillespie (for Brown, 82); Marrow (for McGuire, 82); Not used: Maxwell, Goodall, McLaughlin, Fowler
Bradford: Duke, Meredith, Davies, Oliver, McArdle, Reid, Jones, Doyle (Atkinson 77) Hines (Thompson, 66), Wells (Darby 87) Hanson; Subs not used: McLaughlin, McHugh, Hannah, Connell
Attendance: 9,224 (182, Fleetwood)