Blues earned a valuable point with a 1-1 draw away at Bradford following an excellent performance at the Northern Commercials Stadium at Valley Parade.
Southend fell behind from Marc McNulty’s first goal for the Bantams, but showed great character with a determined and steely performance which saw Anthony Wordsworth score his third goal since his return from injury with a thoroughly deserved equaliser.
For Tuesday nights trip to Bradford, Blues manager Phil Brown named an unchanged line-up from Saturday’s 1-0 win against Chesterfield at Roots Hall.
Brown’s ideas nearly paid off as Blues nearly took the lead midway through the first half, following a bright start to the game, as Anthony Wordsworth showed great awareness as he took a quick free kick from around 25 yards out and put Simon Cox down the channel on the right hand side, and whistled a shot just wide of Colin Doyle’s right hand post in the Bradford goal.
However, against the run of play Haris Vuckic nearly put the Bantams in the lead, as Blues skipper Anton Ferdinand gave away a cheap free kick right on the edge of the Southend box around the centre of the goal, but, former Newcastle and Rangers midfielder Vuckic curled the ball inches wide of Mark Oxley’s goal.
Following the Free kick, Bradford gained momentum and went close again as Vuckic in the thick of the action found Nicky Law down the left hand side who put an inviting cross towards the edge of the penalty area which was swept in by Mark Marshall into the bottom right corner of Oxley’s goal, but Nicky Law had already been flagged offside much to Blues relief.
Bradford went close again as Josh Cullen fired an effort just wide of Oxley’s left hand post from around 20 yards out. However, despite resisting the pressure on their goal, Blues would then concede an unfortunate goal, as Vuckic’s through ball was latched onto by Marc McNulty following an unlucky slip by Adam Thompson, and the striker raced away and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner from just inside the penalty area giving Mark Oxley no chance.
Blues nearly equalised just before half time as Anthony Wordsworth curled an effort just wide of the left hand top corner from a Free Kick on the edge of the Bradford area. This, would signal the end of what would be an encouraging first half display from United.
Blues nearly started the second half with a bang as striker Nile Ranger found a way through the Bradford defence as he superbly tricked his way past Rory McArdle and Knight-Percival and drilled a strike towards the left hand side of the goal, however, Colin Doyle flew across his goal, producing a smart save to preserve Bradford’s slender lead.
Southend’s early second half pressure then paid off as from the left hand side Ben Coker dug out a brilliant cross which was flicked on by Will Atkinson to the back post where Anthony Wordsworth headed in from close range for his third goal since his return from injury to make it 1-1 after 54 minutes.
United nearly went ahead in the 69th the second half following a surging run by Jason Demetriou who ran nearly half the length of the pitch after leaving the centre of Bradford’s midfield in their wake and drilled a low effort towards the bottom right corner which Doyle tipped just around the post.
Wordsworth nearly added to his tally as from 30 yards out, from a direct free kick he nearly deceived Colin Doyle in the Bradford goal as he curled a brilliant effort towards the top right hand corner, however, Doyle recovered just in time to make a world class save.
Bradford had a number of attacks at United’s goal, however, their final ball was often lacking, as well as there being some resolute defending by Blues skipper Anton Ferdinand and last Saturday’s match winner Adam Thompson.
Nile Ranger missed a great chance in the 88th minute to nick the win, following a free kick from the right hand side which was curled into the striker inch perfectly by Wordsworth, however, the striker fluffed his lines and headed the ball just wide of the back post.
Blues can take a lot of encouragement from this excellent away performance against promotion pushing Bradford, as their recent away form has been poor. Blues fans will be feeling optimistic in the run up against MK Dons this Saturday following this strong display.