REPORT | Southend United 0-1 Bradford CityBlues welcomed a Bradford side to Roots Hall for the last game at home and the promotion contenders came away 1-0 winners .
Lee Evans’ early goal was enough to settle the encounter, but Blues had some late chances to earn a draw which didn’t materialise on a frustrating afternoon.
Phil Brown made four changes to the side that lost to Wigan the week before including a debut for on-loan defender Piotr Malarczyk. David Mooney, Glen Kamara and Stephen McLaughlin were the other three to come in.
Bradford, who were backed by a sizeable contingent in a packed North Stand, made the better start to the game with hopes of confirming a play-off place.
With 12 minutes on the clock, they went ahead through Lee Evans. The Bradford midfielder picked up the loose ball 30 yards from goal after James Meredith’s good work to close down Malarczyk, and with little pressure, he curled the ball into the bottom right hand corner from just outside the penalty area.
Blues responded with a well worked 25 yard free kick between Ben Coker and Ryan Leonard resulting in the latter fizzing an effort at Ben Williams.
Ted Smith was well-placed from a Bradford free-kick which found the goalscorer, Evans, unmarked in the box, but he and volleyed his shot into the ground and into the grateful hands of the Blues ‘keeper.
Southend were starting to get back in the game and McLaughlin went close in the 24th minute, attempting an overhead kick from Tyrone Barnet’s knockdown. Kamara then had a good chance to shoot but instead he turned back and the chance had gone.
The signs were promising from Phil Brown’s men, albeit that they still trailed to Evans’ strike.
That was the story for much of the rest of the first half as the two sides cancelled each other out.
Bradford were happy to defend and the attacks that Southend did create were being happily dealt with.
Half Time: Southend United 0 - 1 Bradford City
Bradford started the second half with more attacking intent and went very close to a second, but Barrett intercepted Tony McMahon’s strike which was sneaking in at the far post.
After a clash of heads which left Leonard worse off, Southend had a half chance when McLaughlin dinked a cross for Barrett who worked his feet well to get a shot at goal, but Williams claimed it comfortably.
Strong protests from the Bradford fans behind the goal, as well as manager Phil Parkinson on the touchline, for a penalty were waved away. Filipe Morais was the man impeded but not enough for a penalty in referee James Adcock’s view.
The Bantams were up in arms again for an alleged half ball from Coker, but the result was the same.
The visitors remained in the ascendancy for a second goal as McMahon delivered a teasing cross for Darby who couldn’t apply the finish from close range.
Noel Hunt replaced David Mooney after 67 minutes and shortly after there was another debutant in academy product Jack Bridge, who came on for Glen Kamara.
Two minutes later, Blues went the closest they had come all afternoon to breaching Bradford’s defence.
Coker’s cross found Malarczyk at the back post whose header down for Barnett only allowed for the striker to attempt an acrobatic shot with his back to goal, but it cannoned against the bar and away.
A long throw from Leonard then caused chaos, but Bradford eventually scrambled it clear as Blues continued to knock at the door.
In the final ten minutes, Bradford regained their control and intelligently ran the clock down.
Leonard hit a pile-driver within a whisker of the post from 25 yards and then Bradford sub Jamie Proctor forced Smith into a smart stop which would have settled the points.
In added time Hanson flicked the ball on to Paul Anderson who grazed the bar with a speculative effort, but it wasn’t to matter as Evans’ gave Bradford the points.
Full Time Southend United 0 - 1 Bradford City
Smith, White, Barrett, Malarczyk, Coker, Atkinson (Loza), Kamara (Bridge), Leonard, McLaughlin, Mooney (Hunt), Barnett
Bentley, Thompson, Hurst, Hunt, Deegan, Loza, Bridge
Williams, Darby, Meredith, Evans (Thorpe), Hanson, Cullen, Burke, Reid, Morais (Proctor), McArdle (Anderson), McMahon
Bracknell, Clarke, Morris, Clarke, Proctor, Thorpe, Anderson