Bradford Town 1 - 0 Shepton Mallet
Wednesday 21st February 2018
Wednesday night’s derby at Bradford finished after a tense 90 minutes with both managers sent to the dressing rooms at Trowbridge Road and with one protesting the innocence of the other to the referee after a last minute fracas in front of the dug outs writes Kerry Miller.
In the end it was sorted and it happily did not spoil what was a very watchable match which saw the Bobcats move into joint second spot with Willand Rovers, who on the same night again lost, this time at home to Bitton. A strike from Karim Rendall five minutes before the break proved to be the match winner which was hard on visiting Shepton Mallet who took them all the way and on a better night could well have gone away with a point at least.
Bradford were without Sam Jordan, who took a knock in the last game while Shepton were missing Tyson Pollard but within five minutes they were given a boost when Dan Cottle fed Rendall who volleyed inside to Will Hailston, who went down under a challenge in front of referee Dam Lamport, who gave a penalty. Young keeper Tom Easterbrook brought off a stunning save down to his right to keep it out and his side soon countered, with new signing Dale Hunt driving just wide from an angle.
The former Street wideman, up front with fellow new signing Isaac Reid, was looking dangerous all night and went close again before Tom Hill shot over and when Town recovered, Rendall had a header well saved by Easterbrook. Shepton seemed to have a shout for a penalty themselves when Hunt appeared to be pulled back in the area just before the half hour and their frustration was compounded when Hailston’s shot was hacked away, only as far as Rendall who fired home for the lead.
After the break Cottle was wide with one effort then Matt Morris watched his curler just fail to hit the target as Town began the second half well. As the game broke up with a series of injury stoppages and free-kicks the emphasis moved towards the visitors and assistant-manager Craig Loxton, who had a fine game, fed Hunt who was once again just wide with another good effort.
Cottle then robbed a defender near the half way line and cut in to all but beat Easterbrook with a curling shot on the hour before the visitors wasted a golden chance to level when Ollie Bryant blazed over with Charlie Phillips out of his goal. Joe Morgan was seeing plenty of the ball for Shepton and twice went close with headers after James Billing had ventured up field and had a shot deflected wide. It was all Shepton at that point with Loxton shooting wide and Reid blasting over after a dewfensive error had put him in but Bradford held on until a throw in by the dug outs escalated into a mass bundle which is sadly becoming all to prevalent this season.
Once it had died down there were a couple bookings while both Jon Burr and Danny Greaves made their way to the dressing rooms, Burr trying unsuccessfully but sportingly to convince referee Lamport that he had got the wrong man in Greaves.
Town returned to the clubhouse to hear that Willand had gone down at home and the Premier Division championship race was still wide open with the three at the top watching over their shoulders at Melksham Town in fourth.