Wyke now of­fer­ing flex­i­bil­ity as McCall calls for greater pro­tec­tion

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - AT VAL­LEY PA­RADE Email: robert.gled­hill@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @RGled­hillYPS­port

STRIKER Char­lie Wyke was still rub­bing the back of his head long af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle.

In many ways the bruise sus­tained af­ter a sec­ond-half aerial chal­lenge was a badge of hon­our and un­der­lines just how big a threat op­po­nents rate him.

It, and the 3-0 mid­week home de­feat to Fleet­wood when he was not in the start­ing line-up, also shows how City can ill-af­ford to lose their target man if they want to main­tain a top-six push.

Wyke missed most of pre-sea­son train­ing due to a va­ri­ety of groin, ham­string and calf prob­lems and is be­ing eased back into the fray by man­ager Stuart McCall.

The for­ward was the big dif­fer­ence between the sides in Saturday’s York­shire derby when City avenged a League Cup de­feat by the vis­i­tors.

It was one rea­son why McCall called for greater pro­tec­tion for the for­mer Carlisle striker, say­ing: “His hold-up play, es­pe­cially in the first half, was ter­rific. I don’t think the ref was kind to him. I think he could have got a lot more pro­tec­tion but he was very strong for us and we do miss him when he’s not play­ing.”

Wyke, who added to his hat­trick against Bris­tol Rovers by head­ing home City’s 18th-minute opener ad­mit­ted: “It is a bit of a com­pli­ment all the at­ten­tion I am get­ting from de­fend­ers at the minute but a bit more pro­tec­tion from the ref would have been nice.”

Of his goal which fol­lowed a bright start by Don­caster, Wyke con­tin­ued: “The ball from Adam Chick­sen was right on the money and all I had to do was head it in.”

Wyke, de­nied a sec­ond by a tremen­dous slid­ing chal­lenge from Niall Ma­son be­fore Nat KnightPer­ci­val headed home from 12 yards from the en­su­ing cor­ner in the 41st minute, is plan­ning on be­com­ing an even more flex­i­ble for­ward.

He has taken up yoga, ex­plain­ing: “The gaffer gets a bit frus­trated be­cause I say I am all right when I am not – but I just want to play and it’s about look­ing af­ter my­self re­ally.

“I’m 24 and I need to start do­ing things prop­erly. I had just been get­ting cramp re­ally in my groins, calfs but I have seen a nutri­tion­ist and have started some new ex­cer­cises in­clud­ing yoga.

“I feel good and I had a lot of en­ergy. It’s the short, sharp stuff I need to work on now. It’s go­ing to be hard work but I’m go­ing to have to do it if I am go­ing to get up to speed.”

Wyke claimed City had played bet­ter in the Fleet­wood de­feat and McCall de­scribed per­for­mances as a “mixed bag for a lot of them” be­fore con­tin­u­ing: “We have done well this month and, while I have no in­ter­est in the table, when I looked at my board with the monthly fix­tures on if some­one had said we could have 16 points from 21 then I would have ab­so­lutely snapped their hand off. I’m de­lighted with that.”

“It’s been a fan­tas­tic re­turn of points this month – seven games and five con­sec­u­tive Satur­days that we have won. That is bril­liant. We were not at our best against Don­caster and if we want a re­ally good, suc­cess­ful sea­son then our per­for­mance levels have HEADS WE WIN: got to be bet­ter. We looked a lit­tle edgy in the sec­ond half.

“Yes, we have got to im­prove our per­for­mance with the ball but you can’t doubt th­ese lads, they give ev­ery­thing they’ve got.”

Vic­tory, how­ever, en­abled right-back Tony McMa­hon to cel­e­brate his 100th ap­pear­ance for the club and McCall com­mented: “I think everyone sees Tony as the joker in the pack. He is a bub­bly char­ac­ter but he also cares about his foot­ball and is very pas­sion­ate. He, too, had a mixed bag to­day but it is a good land­mark for him to achieve.”

McCall had gam­bled on Rovers play­ing three cen­tre-backs but, in­stead, they too went 4-4-2 but em­ployed more men in cen­tral mid­field and caused City prob­lems un­til they started to get the ball out to their wide play­ers.

Al­fie May saw a low drive de­flected onto the out­side of the post be­fore City opened the scor­ing and the livewire striker went close to pulling it back to 2-1 straight af­ter the in­ter­val, tak­ing a re­turn pass from John Mar­quis and forc­ing a fine save from Colin Doyle at his near post.

City re­sponded im­me­di­ately and Marko Marosi, in for an­kle vic­tim Ian Lawlor, raced off his line to block from Do­minic Poleon, who had been fed clear by Nicky Law’s re­place­ment, Paul Tay­lor.

Rovers took the game to City for a spell but they only went close once more, Tommy Rowe’s 84thminute goal­bound header from sub­sti­tute James Cop­pinger’s cor­ner be­ing chested away by Alex Gil­liead, who had also shone in at­tack on City’s flank.

Brad­ford warm-up for Saturday’s trip to 10th-placed MK Dons with a be­hind-closed-doors trip to Manch­ester United to­mor­row when fringe play­ers will get their op­por­tu­nity for some ac­tion.

Brad­ford City striker Char­lie Wyke, above, rises un­marked to head home the opener and cen­tral de­fender Nat KnightPer­ci­val’s header from Tony McMa­hon’s cor­ner, inset, makes it 2-0 against Don­caster Rovers at Val­ley Pa­rade .

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