Bantams hang in there after Evans red
TEN-MAN Bradford held on for a point against play-off hopefuls Port Vale who remain unbeaten at home since September.
Ajay Leitch-Smith fired home his eighth of the season to give Vale the lead after just two minutes, getting on the end of a Richard Duffy cross at close range.
Lee Evans, on loan from Wolves, saw red five minutes into the second half for a reckless tackle on Anthony Grant, and the Bantams grabbed their equaliser when Jamie Proctor, making his debut on loan from Fleetwood, headed home in the 65tth minute.
Bradford boss Phil Parkinson said:“That character that I always ask for was there. After the last two games we’ve shown it’s hard to compete against ten men and the shoe was on the other foot today and we made it hard for Vale. Our fans can see how frustrating it can be against organised and well-drilled sides even with ten men.We were extremely hard to break down.
“We had the setback of the sending-off, but we responded brilliantly and I’m so pleased we got back in the game. The red card was a poor tackle and I knew it was a sending-off.”
The Valiants have lost only once at Vale Park this season and Leitch-Smith got them off to the ideal start, scoring after two minutes. He should have put them two ahead ten minutes later after JJ Hooper’s shot was parried but he fired over from less than five yards.
The closest the visitors came in the first half was when Billy Clarke’s pull-back forced a fingertip save from Jak Alnwick.
Five minutes into the second half and the West Yorkshire side were reduced to ten men after Evans lunged two-footed into Grant.
And Proctor made them pay 15 minutes later, connecting with former Valiant Mark Marshall’s weighted cross. Bradford came close to snatching three points when a Reece Burke thunderbolt in the 69th minute forced a fine save from Alnwick.
Vale boss Rob Page admitted it was a frustrating afternoon to watch from the sidelines. “We created enough chances to be out of sight, but we were not ruthless enough and I’ve said this too many times this season,” he said.
“It feels like a defeat. We weren’t clinical enough, and we’ve suffered because of that.
“We played into their hands a bit, and it was frustrating because we don’t have the centre-forwards to compete with their monster centre-halves.
“We will have two new faces joining us on Monday, a winger and a striker, and they will be faces that will help us to deal with situations like today.”
FEEL THE PAYNE: Jack Payne, who scored Southend’s opener, celebrates with goal hero Tyrone Barnett, centre. Inset, keeper Daniel Bentley ensures a clean sheet STAR MAN
STAR MAN AJAY LEITCH