second half onslaught by Liverpool ended in a single
goal for Emile Heskey and a defeat for Bradford in their
first Premiership game of the new season.
signings Ashley Ward and Benito Carbone started the
game on the bench at Anfield as Bradford tried to defend
their way through the match when perhaps it would have
been more effective to play Liverpool at their own game.
It was a familiar story from last season as City kicked
off with just Dean Windass up front and five men in
midfield in a damage limitation exercise against one
of the Premiership's top five.
Surely, with the likes of Hopkin, Petrescu, Carbone
and the newest addition Ashley Ward Bradford should
be looking at moving forward rather than carrying on
the negativity of last season's away travels.
To be fair to Bradford, and boss Chris Hutchings, they
played very well in the first half and matched Liverpool
in their passing style, stroking the ball around well
and carving out a few chances of note. Indeed, it was
David Hopkin who had the best chance to score during
the half as Matt Clarke was untested in the away goal.
The ex-Leeds man, and City's record buy at £2.5
million, looked impressive as he shot at Sander Westerveld's
goal in the 10th minute only for the Liverpool keeper
to save comfortably. He followed this up with an effort
which should have gone in as he latched on to Lee Sharpe's
through ball and shot at goal. The big Dutch keeper
saved well however and the chance was gone.
In a game when defending deep there are never going
to be many chances for the attacking force and it was
obvious that City would rue this miss.
Indeed, even though
the Bantams were very organised and held out in defence
throughout the first half they had some scares as Vladimir
Smicer struck a volley from just outside the area which
flew past the post. Nick Barmby, the £6 million
recruit from Merseyside rivals Everton, was also allowed
round the back of the defence but failed to find anyone
with his cross.
Barmby was knocked over in the area minutes later but
referee Paul Durkin refused to award the penalty and
City escaped to the dressing room as he blew for half
It was a lesson for Bradford and one they didn't learn
as Liverpool came out all guns blazing for the second
half. The visitors didn't get a look in during this
period and had it not been for Matt Clarke, the outstanding
man of the match, there is no doubt that Heskey would
not have been the only name on the score sheet.
was ironic that Heskey should be the scorer as he was
pedestrian to say the least. It has taken the player
a while to even think about gelling with his new team,
let alone actually achieve it. However, it was an outstanding
The big England forward picked up the ball and ran past
Bradford's defence in the 67th minute before smashing
the ball into the top corner of the net once he ventured
into the area. A moment of brilliance that is sadly
lacking in his current game.
Prior to this Bradford had escaped a glut of Liverpool
chances and impressive possession football. A fantastic
save by Clarke from Steven Gerrard as he tried to curl
his shot to the top corner in the 50th minute was the
peak of the play but Smicer also went close again on
two occasions as Clarke was allowed to stop his efforts
A very quiet Michael Owen, shepherded well by Andy O'Brien,
could only muster a shot on goal smothered by the City
keeper as the Reds fired blank after blank. But this
was before the Heskey strike and as this occurred it
was time for Hutchings to act.
If not a little too late, on came Carbone and Ward for
Hopkin and Petrescu but it proved ineffective. City
could not retain possession and Liverpool carried on
their second half dominance as Gerrard had another effort
stopped by Clarke.
It was more a case of playing out time with a bit of
keep ball for Gerrard Houllier's band of foreign imports
at this point but, that said, they did have little to
show for their attacking presence, save for the three
points, and they will have to improve up front if they
are to beat the likes of Manchester United to the title.
For City, the plus points were that they prevented Liverpool
from scoring more goals but it must be worrying that
Clarke was tested on so many occasions during the second
The first period's performance was impressive and if
they can carry that on into the first home game next
week then things could be different this season.
BRADFORD CITY 0
Stuart McCall (c)
Sami Hyypia (c)