Bradford City 2-1 Crawley Town: Bantams strike late to leapfrog Reds
A late goal from substitute Garry Thompson handed Bradford City a 2-1 victory over Crawley Town in a closely-fought League One clash at Valley Parade.
Reds striker Jamie Proctor had earlier come off the bench to equalise after Aaron McLean had slammed the Bantams in front at the start of the second half, but Thompson’s header from a corner four minutes from time sent Reds on their long trip home empty handed.
With both sides safe from relegation going into the game it was just league positions at stake, with Crawley starting in 13th, just a place and two points above their hosts.
Crawley named two changes from the Easter Monday defeat to Notts County. In came Dannie Bulman and Josh Simpson, replacing Sergio Torres and Jamie Proctor who dropped to the bench. Academy players Brad Isaacs and Ryan Richeford celebrated signing professional terms in the week with their first appearances amongst the substitutes.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off for the 56 who died in the Bradford City stadium fire of 1985, and when the match did start it was the visitors, in all white, who carved out the first opening. With six minutes gone defender Joe Walsh combined well with Simpson before finding Tubbs in the box, but the striker snatched at his shot, dragging it wide.
At the other end Rory McArdle headed a Gary Jones free kick straight at Reds goalkeeper Paul Jones.
Both sides jostled for possession and were limited to long-range efforts, the best of which saw Andrew Davies up from the back to sting the hands of Paul Jones from 25 yards on the half hour mark.
Bradford were then awarded a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the area when Kyle McFadzean was adjudged to have nudged Jon Stead in the back. Mark Yeates stepped up and his curling effort sailed only just beyond the top corner to safety.
On the stroke of half-time Paul Jones flapped at a Gary Jones free kick under pressure from Davies, and when the resulting corner came in the Reds stopper’s unconvincing punch landed only at Stead, but from eight yards out his shot was weak.
If the first half was somewhat subdued it took just five minutes of the second half for the large home crowd to spark into life with the opening goal.
Reds defender Kyle McFadzean had just seen a volley saved by Jon McLaughlin after the Bantams ‘keeper had punched a corner weakly out to him. With the visitors stretched a lofted ball straight through the middle put McLean in on goal and he emphatically lashed home on the half volley to pick out the bottom corner.
Gregory’s response was a double change, Torres and Proctor thrown in to replace Mike Jones and Gary Dicker, Proctor going upfront to partner Tubbs as Reds switched to 4-4-2.
And Proctor took just nine minutes to stamp his mark on the game with an excellent equalising goal.
McFadzean lofted a ball down the right channel and the striker got in behind the last defender and coolly lobbed onrushing home ‘keeper Jon McLaughlin to make it 1-1 on 66 minutes.
With no fear of relegation both sides went in search of a winner, and Bradford grabbed it with just four minutes of normal time remaining.
Paul Jones denied Mark Yeates with his legs from a tight angle, but the resulting corner was swung in and substitute Garry Thompson got his head to it to put the hosts back in front.
The result saw Bradford avenge the defeat earlier in the season and swap places with them in the League One standings, Bradford moving up to 13th while Reds dropped down to 14th ahead of home games against Carlisle and Bristol City to end their season.
BRADFORD: McLaughlin; Darby, Davies, Drury, Yeates, Stead, Jones, De Vita (Bennett 69), Mclean (Thompson 62), McArdle (McHugh 58), Doyle.
UNUSED SUBS: Jameson, Meredith, Dolan, McBurnie.
REDS: (4-5-1): P Jones; Sadler, Connolly, Sadler, Walsh, McFadzean; Edwards, M Jones (Torres 57), Bulman, Dicker (Proctor 57), Simpson; Tubbs.
UNUSED SUBS: Maddison, Essam, Fallon, Isaacs, Richeford.