Billy’s boots ease Bantams’ hurt
PHIL Parkinson dismissed premature talk of the play-offs as he stuck to a tried and tested managerial adage after victory over Oldham.
Two opportunistic goals from Billy Clarke fired the Bantams to only their second win in eight league games, cutting the gap to the final play-off place to two points.
There are eight teams within five points of that spot, but outstanding postponements from Bradford’s famous FA Cup run mean City still have two games in hand over many of their rivals.
Parkinson said: “I thought it was a tremendous performance from the lads.
“We were hurting after last week.
“But when we have a disappointment at Bradford we hurt together.
“The fans were hurting, I was and so were the players, but we responded together as a football club.
“I think I’m good at picking up the vibes around the ground and the fans were like: ‘OK, we lost that lead last week, but we’re going to do everything we can to help the team’.
“The players were determined, the staff were, and I’m so pleased. After the Reading exit from the cup I felt everyone started talking about the play-offs and thought we’d just naturally work our way up the league. We just want to concentrate on the next game though.” There was a lack of quality but certainly not effort in a game best described as robust – or perhaps agricultural, given the state of Bradford’s pitch.
The match did promise more in the opening few minutes, with Oldham showing good adventure early on, leading to a decent Conor Wilkinson chance that the striker blasted wide.
Clarke then caused a momentary panic at the other end with a lob that almost caught out Joel Coleman.
James Hanson headed over from Jon Stead’s cross six minutes later to waste the best chance of the game.
There was then a dearth of chances until two came along at once 20 minutes from time, with Latics left-back Mathew Sadler forcing a good save out of Ben Williams with a fierce long drive.
Clarke finally opened the scoring at the other end just a minute later, finding the net with his back to goal by flicking on Hanson’s knockdown.
The midfielder doubled the scoring in injury time, with Bradford changing their minds about just playing out the time with the ball in the corner. And Stead teed up Clarke for a placed shot that Coleman should have stopped.
Oldham boss Dean Holden said: “I think we were probably the better team in the first half and had the better chances.
“I don’t think we came out in the second half with as much zest and as much flow in our play though.
“If you look at it as a whole, I think the games we’ve had in the last week or so, and the pitch we were playing on, it probably took it out of one or two of the lads.
“It’s difficult to be too critical because we’ve had a good week overall.
“But the position we were in, you’d like to think we’d go on and get a draw – and it would be the worst result we could get.
“Even at the end when we’ve lost, our fans have clapped the lads off and they appreciate that, they really do.”
WHEELING AWAY IN DELIGHT: Billy Clarke celebrates scoring the first of his two goals
goal CLINCHER: Clarke’s second