Billy’s boots ease Ban­tams’ hurt

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Steven Chicken

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

WHEEL­ING AWAY IN DE­LIGHT: Billy Clarke cel­e­brates scor­ing the first of his two goals

goal CLINCHER: Clarke’s sec­ond

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