Month: February 2015

India Get Their World Cup Off To A Flyer After Defeating Pakistan

Virat Kohli scored a brilliant hundred which helped India crush Pakistan by 76 runs.

Virat Kohli scored a brilliant hundred which helped India crush Pakistan by 76 runs.


India and Pakistan renewed their intense rival as they started their World Cup campaign on Sunday with a win against arch rivals Pakistan . In a match that was reportedly watched by 1 million it’s India who dominated this one, the defeat for Pakistan meant that they still haven’t beat their arch rivals in World Cup cricket.

After winning the toss defending world champions India decided to bat first. When the normally explosive Rohit Sharma fell for just 15, one might have been forgiven for asking if batting first was the right choice. Sharma’s dismissal meant that Virat Kohli was next into bat which is always a very ominous sign for the opposition . The vice captain Kohli who does have a good record against the arch enemy, improved his record here with a brilliant and well composed hundred.

Kohli and Shikar Dawan enabled a India recovery as the second wicket pair out on a stand of 129 which enabled India to rebuild. Shikar Dawan who reigned his attacking instincts for the team was the next wicket to fall via a Misbah Ul Haq run out.

Such is the strength of India’s top order that when a team gets rid one quality a player another quality player follows. The next man in was Suresh Raina, Raina a 28 year old batsmen who is very destructive at his best, was in destructive form here.

As he is known for over the years the Chennai Super Kings player likes to settle into the crease and play his way in, and Raina didn’t change his method here. Pakistan who were using spinners at this stage got that tactic wrong as Suresh Raina is some one who is well known to have a weakness of the short ball.

The unusual tactic by Pakistan captain Misbah- Ul Haq, allowed Suresh Raina to get settled and that lead a typical Suresh Raina like innings. Raina and India’s vice captain put on 110 for the third wicket. The third wicket partnership was broken when Virat Kohli was caught behind from a wide ball which he shouldn’t have hit – but the 25 year old Kohli must have been understandably tired after hitting another century, this latest century was the 22nd in a career which the Delhi man keeps breaking records.

This century which as we know was Kohli’s 22nd, meant that the RCB captain has got 22 centuries quicker than anyone else in the history of the game. When Kohli was out from the bowling of Sohail Khan that’s where India seemed to lose their way in this one.

A middle order collapse ensued their after. Suresh Raina who played beautifully for his 74 of 56 balls was the next man to go, closely followed by Ravi Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane. In fact three Indian wickets fell with out a run being scored as Pakistan got a team hat trick if you will.

At one stage India were probably thinking 300-325 is a score they would want to set, in the end the two time world champions had to settle for a scorecard which read 300-7. The main reason for that score was due to the brilliant death bowling of Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan who with his variations of pace took five wickets for 55 runs.

Ideally India would have wanted more – but 300 was still a good score to defend never the less.

Pakistan went out to bat knowing that despite conceding a high total, it was crucial that they didn’t be to aggressive from the start. The 1992 world champions opted for a different opening partnership by promoting Younus Khan to be Ahmed Shazhad’s opening partner.

That move backfired however as Pakistan got off to the start they were dreading. Khan a World T20 winning captain got a unwanted glove on a very well directed bouncer by Mohammed Shami to depart for just six. With that early set back, Pakistan opted to promote all-rounder Harris Sohail up the order. The 26 year old player from Sialkot didn’t disappoint either as he and Ahmed Shehzhad went about rebuilding the run chase.

To their credit both players went about their task well and for the opening overs of Pakistan’s chase they were actually near enough equal to India’s score at the same stage of their innings. Patient and intelligent cricket by Sohail and Shehzhad kept Pakistan in the hunt – but when Sohail fell to the spin of Ashwin, Pakistan’s chase spiralled out of control.

After being 100-2 at one stage, Pakistan lost three wickets and were soon wobbling at 103-5. Maqsood, Sehzhad and Umar Akmal in controversial circumstances all departed cheaply. The Pakistani’s would have felt aggrieved to see Akmal given out and for their referral to be ignored, even when TV replays didn’t conclusively show contact.

To cling on to that moment as turning point though -to be fair would be a bit desperate as Pakistan collapsed quite spectacularly. Not even a cameo from Shahid Afridi could help Pakistan. The Pakistani’s despite a battling 76 from skipper Misbah Ul-Haq feel well short in this run chase and crumbled to 224 all out in 47 overs.

Although this defeat will be a bitter pill to swallow against their arch rivals, Pakistan shouldn’t actually feel to disheartened. The 1992 champions can take some positives out of this game such as their death bowling – and the performances of Ahmed Shehzhad, Harris Sohail and of course the captain Misbah Ul-Haq.

Pakistan face West Indies next which won’t be easy – but is most definitely winnable. As for the winners of this match India, they can take some positives – but they will be hoping their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni can find some form with the bat. The defending champions next face South Africa so it’s crucial that India’s star players maintain their good form.

The Black Cats Lose All Their Lives At Bradford As The Bantams Progress In The FA Cup

Bradford striker Jonathan Stead scored the second goal in an impressive 2-0 FA   Cup win over Sunderland

Bradford striker Jonathan Stead scored the second goal in an impressive 2-0 FA Cup win over Sunderland

League One giant killers Bradford took another premier league scalp in Sunderland which helped the Bantams book a place in the quarter finals of the FA cup.

Bradford who famously beat Chelsea in the previous round would have been confident going into this one. The fact that there are two leagues separating the two sides wouldn’t have bothered Bradford.

The home side came into this cup tie knowing that they were able to call Billy Clarke from the start for the second successive game. On loan Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford misses out against his parent club.

As for the visitors they had to without former England striker Jermaine Defoe, Danny Graham who hasn’t scored for two tears came in for the 32 year old. Sunderland also changed their goalkeeper as Costel Pantillimon made way for Vito Mannone.

With the pitch being in a poor state, which was well documented – it was the hosts Bradford who took the lead after three minutes. The now fit again Billy Clarke’s effort deflected off Sunderland skipper John O’Shea and into the Black Cats net. The worst possible start for the visitors who were very publicly told about the pitch by manager Gus Poyet.

Bradford went on to dominate the half – but Sunderland did have their moments, Rory McArdle and Andrew Davies were forced to make last ditch tackles when Sunderland thought they were clear through on goal. The visitors had a huge penalty appeal turned down when Steven Fletcher tumbled in the box – but replays appeared to show the Scotland striker being offside when the offence happened, so a penalty award there, would have been harsh.

The homeside’s direct approach which was more physical to what is played in the premier league, was causing mayhem amongst the Sunderland ranks, it was actually a surprise the score was only 1-0 at half time as the hosts did have chances to increase their lead.

Bradford who were excellently managed by Phil Parkinson, were brave and resilient – something which has been a highlight of their cup run and their season. Danny Graham who replaced Jermaine Defoe for this game, didn’t look like he was going to end his two year goal scoring drought here. Sadly for the former Boro striker, Graham couldn’t continue after half time due to a serious head injury he sustained in the first half.

Danny Graham’s replacement was Connor Wickham, as Sunderland looked to get back into this game and avoid being another victim to a cup upset at the hands of Bradford City. To be fair the Bantams always seemed to be in control of this one – and double their advantage through Jon Stead in the 61st minute which killed the game off as a contest.

Gus Poyet will no doubt be quick to point out the state of the Valley Parade pitch – but how disappointing Sunderland were, I extremely doubt it would have made any difference.The Black Cats will have to focus on premier league survival now after missing out on another long cup run.

Bradford march on to the quarter finals and who ever they face will no doubt be in for a good game. The Bantams have showed here that spirit and hard work get you along way.

Mow Of The Same Please

Alex Mowatt scored the only goal of the game as Leeds came out on top in the Championship relegation battle against Millwall.

Alex Mowatt scored the only goal of the game as Leeds came out on top in the Championship relegation battle against Millwall.

Alex Mowatt’s goal 6 minutes before half time proved to be the difference in the relegation battle against Millwall.

Both sides came into this ironically on the back of good form – but both sides league form over all this season is the reason why both sides are at the wrong end of the table.

Home side Leeds were pretty much unchanged for this one. Forward Mirco Antenucci continues on the bench – but there are starts for Sean Morrison and Sol Bamba. As for the visitors Millwall they had a full squad available. On Loan Michael Tonge is in eligible to play against his parent club Leeds so Angel Martinez comes in.

The match it self was quite even – but the home side Leeds slightly had the better of the possession. Both sides had plenty of shots on goal – but very few of those efforts were on target which showed why both teams are struggling.

In a game that lacked goals, this game definitely didn’t lack in tension as a lot of fouls were committed by both sides. The visitors did have some good periods in this game – but lacked the quality to turn that possession into any goals.

The home side did actually start this game well as Sam Byram hit the Millwall post. The home side eventually made their good early start and took the lead. Millwall’s Sean Williams brought down Sam Byram for a free kick which was beautifully scored by Alex Mowatt.

The visitors needed to respond – but unfortunately they weren’t able to. Martyn Woolford will rue blazing over the bar when well placed. This defeat leaves the Lions 1 point adrift of Championship safety. As for Leeds, the Whites can now look up the table – this win against their relegation rivals sees the Yorkshire side up to 12th.

The One’s To Watch In This years World Cup

James Taylor has blossomed since entering the International Arena, while his England team mates have struggled, he most definitely hasn't.

James Taylor has blossomed since entering the International Arena, while his England team mates have struggled, he most definitely hasn’t.

With the cricket World Cup is very much in full flow now, this tournament promises to be a cracker. The team here at Asian Sunday take a look five players who we think will ‘light up the tournament’.

Although the World Cup is just a few games old there are already a few players who are catching ‘the headlines’. In New Zealand’s emphatic win over Sri Lanka, unsurprisingly Corey Anderson caught our eye as well as his New Zealand team mate and captain Brendan McCullum. Ultimately we want to chose some players that you might not be aware of.

Corey Anderson (New Zealand)

The New Zealand all-rounder who hit the headlines with the fastest one day international at the time off 36 balls is a key player lower down the order for the Kiwis. Even in the World Cup Opener against Sri Lanka,Anderson showed the cricket world why he is a key player for the Black Caps. A cleaner striker all around the ground and a decent bowling option, Corey Anderson could be a key man for New Zealand in this years World Cup- but also for many years to come for New Zealand overall.

James Taylor (England)

When analysing a game, not many would give a mention to a player on the losing side – but James Taylor’s brilliant knock was the undoubted highlight of a very lacklustre England performance against co- hosts Australia. Although small in size this young Englishmen is very quickly becoming a man of ‘giant stature’. After a good season for Nottinghamshire the 24 year old has finally been given his chance at International level. Taylor may have a different style to Corey Anderson – but will be effective in a slightly different way. England have been crying out for so many years for a player who can rotate strike and remain calm under pressure. In James Taylor we are convinced England have their man.

Harris Sohail (Pakistan)

The 26 year old Harris Sohail has only just broken on to the international scene now, how the world of cricket mourns over that fact. Sohail a 26 year old left handed all rounder is truly the whole package, a very useful spinner of the cricket ball and a clean striker of one. For us though it’s Harris Sohail’s very good temperament in pressured situations that have already impressed us in his career so far.

Ajinkya Rahane (India)

In a batting line up including Rohit Sharma (a world record holder) , Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, you might be surprised that we picked out Rahane. The Rajasthan Royals opener has been selected in our list for his temperament and all round good game, a similar reason to James Taylor. A batsmen who has exceeded in all formats, Ajinkya Rahane could be a key factor in the tight games. Rahane does boast of scoring centuries in England and South Africa, Rahane has all the shots so it’s fair to say the 26 year old can most definitely ‘walk the walk’.

David Miller (South Africa)

Just like Rahane, Miller is potentially another surprise choice – but if you have watched the Indian Premier League in recent months, I really don’t think anyone will be that surprised why he has made our list. The Punjab Super Kings player like Corey Anderson is destructive if the bowling is to straight. Time and time again the Punjab player has made big knocks when his team needed him. Although Miller maybe unproven in International cricket, we feel it’s a matter of time before the whole cricket world takes notice of this man. Well it’s always going to be tough to be seen as dangerous batsmen, especially when you’re in the same side as AB DeVilliers.

The best thing about tournaments like this one is that it help other players get noticed that even we might have failed to notice. Regardless who plays in this tournament, the tournament it self plans to be a cracker.

New Zealand’s ‘Mr Anderson’ Proves To Be ‘The One’ For New Zealand As The Kiwis Win In Style

New Zealand's Corey Anderson hit a brilliant 75 off 40 balls which set up a convinving 98 run win.

New Zealand’s Corey Anderson hit a brilliant 75 off 40 balls which set up a convincing 98 run win.

New Zealand carried on their recent impressive form with another emphatic win over Sri Lanka to get their World Cup campaign off to the best possible start. The Kiwis dominated from the off against their Asian opponents, as Sri Lanka’s miserable form against the Black Caps continued.

It was the visitors Sri Lanka who won the toss and they decided to field, which possible could be argued turned out to be a very bad decision.

The co-hosts couldn’t have made a better start and the opening pair of Martin Guptil and captain Brendan McCullum cashed in on some very charitable bowling. The first wicket would actually put on 100 for the first wicket ,it actually came as a surprise when the first wicket did fall. Brendan McCullum who tore into the Sri Lankan was the first wicket to fall, the captain was caught by Jeevan Mendis off the bowling of Rangana Herath.

After the departure of their captain New Zealand’s scoring slowed dramatically at that point. Martin Guptill and the new batsmen Kane Williamson in particular were having issues with Sri Lanka’s tight bowling. The pressure further intensified when Martin Guptil, who played a brilliant anchor role to McCullum, departed for 49.

The Black caps who enjoyed a 4-2 series success before the start of the World Cup were in danger of letting a position of utter dominance slip through their fingers. A third wicket which was worth 57 looked to have rebuilt the innings – but when two wickets fell with out a run being scored, New Zealand were back under pressure.

A 65 run fifth wicket partnership allowed New Zealand to steady a rocking ship. First Grant Elliott (29 off 34 balls) and the normally attacking Luke Ronchi (29 off 32 balls) reigned in attacking instincts to allow Corey Anderson (75 off 46 balls) to go on a boundary hitting spree which included 8 fours and 2 sixes.

Those contributions allowed the Black Caps to regain a stranglehold on this match. The co-hosts ended up racking 331-6. Considering New Zealand at one stage were 193-4, you have got to say that’s a pretty decent effort.

For Sri Lanka it was definitely a case of what could have been. Lasith Malinga who has just come back from a long injury layoff understandably looked rusty and wasn’t his usual ‘slinger’ self. Malinga’s opening bowling partner Nuwan Kulasekra was just as disappointing. Such was the struggles of Sri Lanka’s opening bowling attack that nearly half of New Zealand’s runs came of Malinga and Kulasekra’s bowling.

The 1996 World champions were already up against it even before their innings commenced. One might not blame Sri Lanka for thinking “here we go again”. To the visitors credit however they did get their run chase off in solid if not spectacular style. The opening pair of Lahiru Thirimanne and Tilkeratne Dilshan went about their task well.

However when Dilshan was first out, ‘the wheels’ soon came off Sri Lanka’s already very difficult run chase – but with the next batsmen being Kumar Sangakarra, the Asian side must have felt reassured that their chase won’t falter just yet. The Sri Lankan pair of Thirmanne and Sangakarra were starting to frustrate the co hosts – but when the Sri Lankan vice captain Thirimanne was dismissed off the bowling of Trent Boult for a well played 67, many dismissed Sri Lanka’s chances.

Those sceptics were to be proved right as five more wickets fell before the score reaching 200. A valiant 46 from Angelo Matthews couldn’t save Sri Lanka – and there doomed run chase ended on 233.

A great start then from the co-hosts New Zealand who look like they have most definitely picked up from where they have left off. As for Sri Lanka its another disappointing defeat and although this defeat is disappointing it’s not ‘the end of the world’ just yet. A game Afghanistan next Saturday would be a good game for the Sri Lankan’s – but even they won’t be easy.

As for New Zealand they face Scotland in a game what could strengthen their position in the World Cup.

Bradford Vs Sunderland FA Cup Team News

Bradford can call on their talisman Billy Clarke for this one. Clarke and Filipe Morais will have to be at their best to help Bradford beat premier League Sunderland.

Bradford can call on their talisman Billy Clarke for this one. Clarke and Filipe Morais will have to be at their best to help Bradford beat premier League Sunderland.

FA Cup Fifth Round
Venue: Coral Windows Stadium
Kick Off: 14:30 GMT
Date : Sunday 15th February

In an FA Cup so far full of shocks, both teams will be fancying their chances in this years FA Cup. Bradford who enjoyed a famous FA Cup win over Chelsea, will be no doubt be not fearing any team – after beating the best team in England at the moment.

Sunderland who beat Fulham in the last round through a replay, like Bradford have been to a cup final in recent years and will not fear anyone – but this challenge for the Black Cats is different as this is a game the Premiership will be expected to win.

Bradford Team News

Bradford who last time out defeated League One high flyers will be looking for the same kind of battling spirit here. The Bantams who started the influential Billy Clarke in the win over Mk Dons could have the 27 year old in the starting line up for this match as well.On loan Sunderland goal keeper Jordan Pickford is unavailable because of the loan agreement with parent club Sunderland.

Bantams boss Phil Parkinson has no fresh injury worries for this one. Mark Yates who also scored in that famous FA Cup win over the Blues is available .

Sunderland Team News

The Black Cats who suffered the embarrassment of being the first home side to lose to QPR in the Premier League have a few injuries to worry about. Former skipper Lee Catermole (Knee) and Emanuelle Giacherrini (Ankle) both miss out – but former Everton and Manchester City midfielder Jack Rodwell is available again after serving a suspension and having a groin injury.

Apart from that the Premier League side are at all full strength and will be looking to likes Jermaine Defoe and Adam Johnson to inspire them to an FA Cup win here.

Our Verdict

In a competition filled with shocks – calling this game would be very difficult. I very confidently predicted a 2-0 win for Chelsea in the previous round – but I was proven wrong. This match although there is a case of Bradford being two divisions lower, I don’t think that would make a difference.

Bradford throughout this tournament and in League One this year have played with a lot of spirit. The win against Chelsea and Mk Dons a promotion rival, shows this team know how to raise their game for the big occasion.

That fact has also concerned Sunderland boss Gus Poyet who ‘offered’ to have this FA Cup tie moved to Sunderland’s Stadium Of Light, which maybe suggest Poyet is worried about his team getting knocked out by a lower league opposition. The outspoken Black Cats manager also suggested that his players should ‘pass the ball forwards’ otherwise they ‘won’t be picked’ .

Mind games you might think – but Gus if it is an attempt of mind games, leave it to the experts (Jose Mouriniho). The Black Cats who enjoyed a good cup run in last years League Cup will not be under as much pressure here – but a ‘favourable draw’ so far might add a bit more pressure now considering some of the big teams who have already exited the competition.

Players like Jermaine Defoe and Adam Johnson will be key for Sunderland – but I don’t see the toughness around the rest of the squad that’s needed for a game like this. The black Cats have been embarrassed 8-0 this year by Southampton – and the defensive fragility was the main reason for that.

It could be argued that the Premier League side have got better defensively since that defeat – but with the intense atmosphere of Valley Parade and the fact that Bradford beat the best team in the land this year (Chelsea) , the Black Cats will have far from an easy ride at Valley Parade.

The match it self I think will be full of goals – but Bradford will come out on top here.

Bradford 3-2 Sunderland

Not Even The Hoff Could Save Millwall as Huddersfield Take Back All Three Points To Yorkshire

Huddersfield striker James Vaughan sealed an impressive win for Huddersfield as the Terriers sealed an impressive 3-1 at Millwall

Huddersfield striker James Vaughan scored for Huddersfield as the Terriers sealed an impressive 3-1 win at Millwall

A Nakhi Wells red card made little difference as West Yorkshire side Huddersfield Town claimed all three points against Millwall.

The hosts have had a very disappointing season and have found themselves occupying the relegation places for pretty much all of the season. Stefan Maierhoffer started upfront for the hosts, with Ricardo Fuller only on the bench. Magaye Gueye also starts for the hosts.

The visitors Huddersfield who have been inconsistent this year had their three ‘big guns’ available with Nakhi Wells, James Vaughan and Jacob Butterfield all starting for the visitors.

Knowing that the majority of the teams around them lost, this was a great chance for Millwall to take advantage – but they didn’t and couldn’t take advantage of the slip ups of the teams around them.

Huddersfield who are very much in mid table,to demonstrate their inconsistencies were brilliant in this game. After the match had finished Town boss Chris Powell described the performance as “the best since I have been here”.

It all could have been different if Stefan Meierhoffer’s hadn’t hit the post. That miss proved costly as Sean Scannell opened the scoring for the visitors. Right after the goal Huddersfield looked to press home their advantage – but they were unable to. That proved costly as Maierhoffer did eventually score from close range.

The remainder of the first half remained all square – but it was five minutes after the restart where the match would be turned on it’s head. Striker Nakhi Wells was sent off after receiving a second yellow after committing a bad foul.

Instead of galvanising the home side, it was actually the visitors who were given the lift. Jacob Butterfield got the crucial goal with a brilliant effort outside the box which enabled Huddersfield to retake the lead.

With Millwall having the man advantage, they surely needed to push for the equaliser -but it was Huddersfield who struck again. The Lions left themselves exposed which allowed Harry Bunn to draw a foul in the penalty area which left the referee no choice – but to point to the penalty spot.

The penalty was duly dispatched by James Vaughan which ended the game as a contest. There was no further goals as Huddersfield ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.

Millwall will reflect on this game and no doubt see this match as an opportunity missed to close the gap on the teams above them. As it now stands however The Lions are firmly in a relegation battle. Huddersfield on the other hand might be able to start to look up the table, this win takes the Terriers up to 14th in the table, 13 points off the playoffs.

The Bees Sting Leeds With The Only Goal Of The Game

Brentford midfielder Alex Pritchard's goal saw the Bees win at Leeds' expense which sees them consolidate their position in the top four.

Brentford midfielder Alex Pritchard’s goal saw the Bees win at Leeds’ expense which sees them consolidate their position in the top four.

Brentford midfielder Alex Pritchard grabbed the only goal of the game as Leeds’ mini revival came to an end at Elland Road.

The home side who had won their last came coming to this one were no doubt looking to maintain their unbeaten run of late. Although still in deep relegation trouble, those wins have potentially eased a little bit of pressure on manager Neil Redfearn. The Whites included Billy Sharpe for this one, with Mirko Antentunucci starting on the bench. New signing Sol Bamba continues in defence.

As for the visitors who are managed by former stockbroker Mark Warburton. The 53 year old who maintained Uwe Rosler’s good work at Griffin Park is also overseeing an impressive season this year as well. The Bees started with prolific front man Andre Gray and the always reliable Alex Pritchard. On loan Arsenal midfielder Jon Toral is on the bench.

Leeds who knew they needed something from this match to ensure they could take advantage from this match, started brightly. The Yorkshire side had a very strong appeal for a penalty turned down just before half time, captain Rudy Austin stumbled after a shove by Moses Odubajo – but the referee wasn’t having any of it as he waved play on.

The hosts gave a spirited performance especially in the first half as Brentford struggled to get a foothold in the game.

The visitors who were not at their best in the first half and might have been lucky to have not been trailing, went on to the take the lead when yet another Leeds appeal was turned down. Billy Sharp had another Leeds penalty turned down – but to rob further salt in the wounds, Brentford would score soon after that rejected penalty appeal.

Alex Pritchard turned home an Odubajo cross to give the visitors the lead. Leeds who felt hard done by the refereeing throughout the whole game rallied, Billy Sharp fired just wide. Jon Toral could have sealed the win – but the visitors Brentford held on for a crucial three points.

This defeat for Leeds sees them still very deep in relegation trouble, thankfully for for the Yorkshire side the teams that are directly around also lost. I guess this week wasn’t the worst week to lose – but the mindset of those Leeds players is to win every week no doubt. Unfortunately for Leeds the off field issues are hardly helping.

Brentford with this win maintain their play off push and are now above Ipswich into fourth. It’s been a great season for The Bees and it would be even greater if they could get promoted.

O’Connor Is Bradford’s Bantams Menace As Port Vale Battle Back To Salvage A Point

Michael O'Connor secures last gasp equlaliser for Port Vale, which dents Bradford's promotion push.

Michael O’Connor secures last gasp equaliser for Port Vale, which dents Bradford’s promotion push.

Michael O’Connor scored one and set up the other to help snatch a point for Port Vale in an entertaining game against playoff chasing Bradford.

Port Vale came into this game with an outside chance of the playoffs themselves – but having played more games than their rivals around them, that looks like it’s not going to happen for this season.

The home side came into this one no doubt looking for a win. The Valliants although just three points behind visitors Bradford, are only seven points away from the relegation places, so Vale will no doubt no doubt looking to avoid getting sucked into a unwanted relegation battle.

As far as Port Vale’s team was concerned, that was pretty much at full strength. Frenchman Achille Champion starts on the bench along with fellow signing Tommy O’Sullivan who was signed on loan from Cardiff.

Bradford who have hit the headlines in recent weeks after that superb FA Cup win over Chelsea, have struggled a little bit of late. Despite going on an impressive 10 game unbeaten run, the Bantams have suffered costly defeats at the hands of playoff rivals Rochdale and League Two strugglers Yeovil with in the last month or so.

Those defeats have seen the Yorkshire side slip to ninth position after being in fifth position at one stage, part of that has been due to Bradford’s impressive cup run. With the Bantams having a game in hand over some of their play off rivals, Bradford were looking to take advantage here and gain ground on the teams above them.

The visitors came into this game pretty much unchanged. Jordan Pickford who missed the famous FA Cup win over Chelsea due to not being grated permission by parent club Sunderland, starts in goal ahead of Ben William’s. Billy Clarke who had been so influential at the start of the season for Bradford, still isn’t ready to start after a long injury layoff – but does make the bench for this one.

In a game that was important to both sides, it was in fact the visitors who started the better. Bradford who famously went to Stamford Bridge and beat Chelsea in the FA Cup, were showing the confidence and the belief that they can be just as rampant here.

It was they who deservedly took the lead as well (Bradford). Filipe Morais who is having an excellent season, crossed into the box for James Hanson to open the scoring and the floodgates it looked at that point as well . The visitors who were well on top at that point failed to make their period of dominance count – and were made to pay dearly.

Port Vale managed to weather the Bradford storm, and went in at half-time just one goal down. Vale manager Robert Page introduced Frenchman Achille Champion who would make a telling contribution. Champion after coming as a second half substitute levelled for the home side with a well placed shot into the bottom left corner of Jordan Pickford’s goal, Michael O’Connor who would go on to save the game for the Valliants provided the assist.

Bradford after enjoying the better of the game would have been bitterly disappointed to have let their hosts back into this one. To rub further salt into the wounds James Hanson missed a great chance for Bradford to retake the lead as his header was easily saved Vale keeper Chris Neal. That disappointment how ever was to be short lived as Bradford did retake the lead through Filipe Morais. The 29 year old former Chelsea trainee scored from outside the box after being set up by James Meredith.

At this point the visitors must have been thinking that the game is surely – but the real drama was yet to come. Jordan Pickford who was sent off last month in the home defeat to Rochdale was to receive the same feat here. Bradford’s defence were playing a high line and were brutally exposed by a through ball which prompted visiting keeper Pickford to bring down Vale’s Greg Luer in the penalty area.

The referee was left with no other option – but to send off the Bradford keeper and reward Port Vale a last minute spot kick . The Bantams needing a keeper to face that spot kick were forced to bring on Ben Williams at the expense of Mark Yeates, sadly though one of Williams’ first touches was to pick the ball out of his net. The former Manchester United keeper was unable to save Michael O’Connor’s effort.

That penalty was to be the last action of a truly entertaining game – but for Bradford they will be no doubt thinking what could have been.

A draw does neither side many favours. Port Vale are 14th in the table and four points off the play positions – but the Valliants have played at least two games more than the sides above them. As for Bradford this draw sees them in ninth place. This result although it wasn’t a defeat isn’t ideal especially with extremely difficult games against Swindon and Mk Dons to come.