HOP­KIN BLASTS ‘DAN­GER PITCH’

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP - By Rick Barr

NAT Knight-Per­ci­val earned a re­play for Brad­ford City in con­di­tions boss David Hop­kin la­belled “dan­ger­ous”.

The Ban­tams de­fender headed in a lev­eller to deny Non-League Alder­shot, who had led through Ge­orge Fowler’s first-half goal.

It ruled out a shock on a day where the big­gest sur­prise was the game finMan­nion’s ish­ing, with the whole clash played on a sat­u­rated pitch with stand­ing wa­ter.

“I think it’s dan­ger­ous,” Brad­ford boss David Hop­kin said. “You didn’t know where the ball was go­ing to go. The ball was get­ting stuck in pud­dles. Even though it was in their half of the pitch, we couldn’t get any­thing go­ing be­cause ev­ery time we got down the side of them it got stuck in a pud­dle.

“It was hor­ren­dous con­di­tions but the play­ers stuck at it and man­aged to score a fan­tas­tic header from Nat to get the game level. We should have won the game but you’re al­ways wait­ing for a mis­take on a pitch like this.”

Alder­shot man­ager Gary Wad­dock said: “The game could have been called off dur­ing the sec­ond half but credit to the of­fi­cials and the ground staff for get­ting the game fin­ished.”

The ex­tent of the del­uge quickly be­came ev­i­dent when an early Alder­shot at­tack was stopped in its tracks by the wa­ter. But ref­eree Paul Mars­den was clearly happy for the match to carry on.

Alder­shot started brightly and Matt McClure looked cer­tain to put them ahead after eight min­utes when he danced in be­hind the de­fence but his at­tempt to shape a shot into the bot­tom cor­ner was off tar­get. The home fans only had to wait four more min­utes for the break­through. Fowler es­caped his man to cush­ion Adam McDon­nell’s cor­ner into the net, via a de­flec­tion off Brad­ford’s Ryan McGowan.

It was the last thing League One side Brad­ford needed. On the back of seven de­feats on the spin in all com­pe­ti­tions, the game was start­ing to look like the ba­nana skin many pre­dicted.

But they re­acted well. Eoin Doyle was de­nied by Will legs be­fore the keeper pushed away a low drive from Con­nor Wood.

Ge­orge Miller slipped the ball wide when he got in be­hind and Doyle should have done bet­ter when he flicked Jack Payne’s ex­cel­lent clipped ball off tar­get.

It was hearts in mouths time when Man­nion spilled Wood’s long-range shot be­fore div­ing back at full-stretch to paw the ball off the line and keep Alder­shot ahead.

The Shots stop­per then tipped Lewis O’Brien’s ef­fort over the bar but, from the cor­ner, the Ban­tams lev­elled. Payne whipped in a cen­tre and Knight-Per­ci­val pow­ered in an equaliser with his head.

PIC­TURE: Ian Mors­man

BIG MO­MENT: Ge­orge Fowler puts Alder­shot ahead TUS­SLE: Shots’ Adam McDon­nell, left, and Brad­ford’s Eoin Doyle bat­tle for the ball

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