Another of those long trips North that we’ve all become accustomed to following the City over the years, as we headed for a Nationwide league fixture away to Bradford City. The Bantams were fortunate to come away from Ninian Park in August with a 2-0 victory, as they defended well as City threw everything but the kitchen sink at them, and scored two wonder goals at the other end of the pitch. Since then the two clubs have seen contrasting fortunes, with Cardiff sitting in upper mid table and Bradford bumping along in the bottom three.
Bradford caused a massive shock last week by winning 1-0 away to league leaders Norwich City. So an expectant home crowd turned out for the Bluebirds visit, off the back of last week’s magnificent comeback to beat Rotherham 3-2.
Over 1200 Cardiff fans made the journey, and we were afforded an excellent welcome in a very nice pub just up the hill from Bradford Foster Square station. The rumours of hordes of Leeds fans roaming around looking for trouble were as always completely unfounded.
Valley Parade (or whatever they call it these days) is a good first division ground. It’s up on a hill and visible from miles away, and looks impressive. The away fans are housed in a two tier stand behind one goal, much like the one that used to be the away end at Brentford, but all seater. The home fans were dispersed between a large two tier stand which went all the way down the side of the pitch to our left and round behind the opposite goal, and a single tier stand to our right.
The freezing cold weather and wind seemed to knock the stuffing out of them as they stayed very quiet all afternoon. Anyway, on to the game. Well there’s not a great deal to say about the first half. The quality of passing was poor, and there were few chances for either side.
Early on, Earnie hit a right footed fizzing shot from distance, but couldn’t hit the target. Parry looked like City’s greatest threat and cut in from the left to shoot right footed on a couple of occasions but couldn’t trouble Bantams keeper Combe. Bradford played a lot of long balls up to Gray and tried on occasion to get ex-Everton man Cadamateri away on the right wing but were on the whole restricted to long range efforts which either went straight at Margetson or went well away from the City goal. The only other shots of merit were from Thorne who blazed wide from around 30 yards.
The other point of note in the first half was Bradford’s tackling. Bryan Robson seems to have them playing very much in his mould. Lots of hard tackling that the referee was finding it hard to control and showed the yellow card a number of times, and really should have used it more liberally. Kavanagh seemed up for it too, and was booked after going in hard on a tackle that looked like it might end his involvement in the game, as the physio’s were called on and a lengthy stoppage ensued.
Half time 0-0 and not much to shout about from either side.
The second half started more brightly for the Bluebirds, with Earnie and Thorne combining well on the edge of the Bradford box but were unable to get a decent shot away.
Bradford then went on to have a period of pressure, winning a number of corners, but found it difficult to test Margetson as City kept them at bay. At this point it looked like being a frustrating afternoon for the away side as the passing was still poor and it was difficult to see where a goal would come from.
Then the talking point of the afternoon, as Croft went in late on Cadamateri and was given a straight red card. It looked very harsh, the tackle was certainly mistimed, but was not high or two footed and warranted no more than a yellow card, especially with the number of bad tackles made by Bantams players in the first period. Lawrence acted immediately, bringing off the tiring Parry and putting on Barker to play left back in a 4-3-2 formation. After withstanding the initial pressure after the sending off, City started to put some passes together, and were giving the front two far more service.
Our fans were lifted and the atmosphere was suddenly much more vocal and passionate. A long ball forward by Langley was headed down into the box by Thorne. Vidmar took a touch sideways and was clattered by a Bradford defender. Definite penalty and the City end was in celebratory mood.
Earnie picked up the ball, took his usual slow deliberate “tippy tap” runup and hit the ball low to the keepers left. Combe in the Bradford goal guessed correctly and saved it, but the ball went straight up in the air. RICHARD LANGLEY was well ahead of everyone else and headed into the unguarded net from 6 yards, his momentum taking him into the back of the net. I was in the lower tier with the goal right in front of us, and the City fans went mental.
Combe in the Bradford goal was wound up to the hilt as he’d been taking stick from the Cardiff fans all afternoon and was seen to gesture at and tell City fans to “F*ck off”. I think Langley wound him up too, by grinning at him all the way back after disentangling himself from the goal net.
Alan Lee was brought on almost immediately for Earnie, to freshen up the front line, and Whalley came on for Weston as he got injured, leaving Boland moving to play right back. The City fans sang non-stop til the end of the game and Bradford knew they weren’t going to get one back.
The next 20 minutes or so weren’t completely a defensive job, City getting forward on numerous instances, but Bradford didn’t have the confidence to come back, and we held out magnificently to take the three points. Not an exceptional performance in terms of quality of play by any means, but the strength of character of the players can’t be in doubt. Fantastic stuff and a great way to go into the 2 week break before the Forest home game.
“TEN MEN, WE ONLY HAD TEN MEN"
Report from FootyMad
Cardiff City winger Richard Langley grabbed the vital winner as the ten-man Bluebirds boosted their play-off hopes with a fine 1-0 win at Bradford City.
The Jamaican international followed up Rob Earnshaw's penalty and got his reward when the ball rebounded off the Bradford keeper's legs.
Langley headed home and Lennie Lawrence's men held their nerve to register a much-needed away win.
A scrappy contest looked to have swung Bradford's way when Cardiff full-back Gary Croft was red-carded for a scything challenge on Danny Cadamarteri just after the hour but it was the Bluebirds who responded best.
City keeper Alan Combe produced a superb double block to deny Earnshaw and strike partner Peter Thorne but his luck was out three minutes later when referee Colin Webster pointed to the spot.
Bradford full-back Simon Francis was the guilty party as his mistimed challenge sent Tony Vidmar sprawling in the box and although Earnshaw saw his tame penalty blocked by Combe, Langley was on hand to nod in the rebound.
A game of few clear-cut chances sparked into life and Cardiff keeper Martyn Margetson did well to push away a goalbound flick from Andy Gray.
After two successive league wins, the struggling Bantams were forced to make changes because of injuries and suspension and although they kept a tight rein on the Cardiff front-men they failed to test Margetson in a disappointing opening half.
With Bluebirds skipper Graham Kavanagh driving his men forward, Thorne hit the side-netting from an acute angle and Paul Parry wasted a good opening with a poor strike.
The visitors made a bright start after the interval and Bradford centre-half Jason Gavin had to head clear after Combe had blocked at the feet of Thorne.
Kavanagh then sparked another promising attack but Thorne's well-struck half-volley flew just wide of Combe's goal.
City midfielder Nicky Summerbee flashed a drive wide of the mark but after Croft was given his marching orders the home side paid the price for failing to make their man advantage tell.
Report from the P.A.
CARDIFF had Gary Croft sent off but still went on to beat Bradford as Richard Langley's goal boosted their push for a play-off place.
Struggling Bradford's hopes of a third straight league win were lifted after 66 minutes when Croft was dismissed for a foul on Danny Cadamarteri.
But they could not make the most of their numerical advantage and when Robert Earnshaw's penalty was saved by Alan Combe, Langley was on hand to head home the rebound.
Bradford showed little sign of the form which saw them beat leaders Norwich last week, although they had made a lively start and Martyn Margetson did well to punch clear Nicky Summerbee's cross before Andy Gray fired wide from close range.
Wales striker Earnshaw - the leading scorer in the division - did not take long to pose a threat and flashed a shot wide in the 12th minute.
Gray looked dangerous for the home side and volleyed wide from 25 yards before a curling right-foot shot from a similar distance was saved by Margetson.
Langley was booked in the 21st minute for a foul on Michael Branch and, 60 seconds later, Summerbee followed him into the book for his challenge on Croft.
Peter Thorne then wasted two good opportunities in the space of a minute for Cardiff but it was turning into a scrappy affair and another foul on Branch saw Rhys Weston cautioned.
Both sides were struggling to create chances as half-time approached and Peter Atherton's ambitious effort from 35 yards was well off target and summed up the first half.
Weston shot wide early in the second half and then picked out Thorne with a cross but the striker could not keep his right-foot volley on target.
It was a similar story at the other end as Summerbee volleyed wide from Danny Cadamarteri's corner and David Wetherall failed to trouble Margetson with a header.
Bradford keeper Combe was rarely troubled, although he had to be alert to hold Thorne's 20-yard effort, but they were given a lift when Croft was shown a straight red card for a bad challenge on Cadamarteri.
Alun Armstrong volleyed wide as Bradford looked to take immediate advantage but Cardiff refused to sit back and Combe denied Earnshaw and Thorne in quick succession.
The deadlock was finally broken after 72 minutes when Simon Francis fouled Tony Vidmar in the box. Earnshaw's spot-kick was parried by Combe and Langley was first to the rebound to head home.
Gray was booked for a foul on Langley as Bradford's frustration began to grow and they threw everything forward late on but Armstrong, Gray and Wetherall were all denied.
The Western Mail
Wales On Sunday