Joe blunts Ban­tams’ play-off progress

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Si­mon Smed­ley

BRAD­FORD’S re­cent surge to­wards the play-off po­si­tions was checked by gutsy Rochdale in what turned out to be a crack­ing Roses clash.

Joe Bun­ney bagged two goals for Dale as they came close to nick­ing a pre­cious vic­tory that would have been only their se­cond in seven games.

Brad­ford as­sis­tant boss Steve Parkin – who man­aged yes­ter­day’s op­po­nents for three years un­til 2006 – felt his side missed a chance to pocket a third straight win as they are now four points shy of the top six.

Parkin said: “It’s prob­a­bly been hon­ours even and that’s fair enough.

“We just weren’t at our best, but on the pos­i­tive side, there was still plenty of spirit and lots of fight on show out there.

“We kept go­ing un­til the end and that will stand us in good stead go­ing for­ward.

“Look­ing back it’s been a good week over­all. Seven points from three games is a good re­turn and so we move on to the next game now.

“It was a crack­ing game, but we just couldn’t get our­selves over the line in the end.”

The Ban­tams roared back into con­tention fol­low­ing a nervy start.

Rochdale took the lead af­ter 12 min­utes cour­tesy of a smartly-taken ef­fort from Bun­ney.

The young front­man rose su­perbly to head home a pin­point cross from Joe Raf­ferty.

As Brad­ford ral­lied, with Tony McMa­hon see­ing a smart free-kick saved by Josh Lil­lis, they were fi­nally re­warded four min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val.

McMa­hon burst down the right be­fore cross­ing for cen­tre-back Rory McAr­dle, who slid in to score his se­cond goal in three games from close range.

Five min­utes af­ter the restart Bun­ney pounced to reg­is­ter his third goal in two games, and this time it was a bel­ter. The 22year-old pro­duced a breath-tak­ing burst of pace be­fore bury­ing a low shot from 20 yards.

The vis­i­tors’ lead only lasted just over ten min­utes, how­ever, as Brad­ford sub Steven Davies pow­ered home a header from McMa­hon’s cor­ner. Sub­sti­tute striker Grant Holt missed a chance to seal a fairy­tale se­cond de­but goal for Rochdale when he slid a shot inches wide with min­utes re­main­ing.

Dale boss Keith Hill said:“The per­for­mance was good, and be­cause of that I’m dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult.

“We should have won re­ally, but that kind of ef­fort here will help bring back the be­lief that we’ll need in the last 15 games.

“We de­fended ex­cep­tion­ally well against a big, tough side.

“We had to be brave to stand up to what Brad­ford threw at us.”

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