A somewhat deflating performance against Cheltenham has once again trudged up question marks about Gary Bowyer’s Bradford side.
The Bantams were pitiful in keeping hold of possession, finishing the game with just 39%. Bradford City’s midfield conundrum has forced manager Gary Bowyer to experiment with different midfield pairings. They only looked likely to score from open play, when Cheltenham sat back, late in the game, intent on holding onto their 3-2 advantage.
Bradford City Midfield Conundrum After Cheltenham Defeat
Central midfield is still a real issue for City. Bowyer has brought in wide players with promise but the midfield lacks a stable, central core. The midfield of Matt Palmer and Jermaine Anderson were largely anonymous in the first half. With nothing materialising through the middle for City, the backline resorted to searching, long balls towards Donaldson. James Vaughan and Donaldson did okay. Although, it was a relatively quiet game for Vaughan – other than picking up another yellow card. It was Clayton Donaldson that seemed to be involved with most of the attacking build-up. However, he failed to score in a game where he could have easily gotten a brace. The Bradford-born-striker seemed to tire in the later stages and should have been replaced earlier.
One issue with this current side is that possession seems to be too easily handed to the opposition. With three of their previous games seeing Bradford finish with less than forty percent of the possession. The midfield have to do better at keeping possession and offering support at both ends. Vaughan has already proven to be a cut above and would benefit with a more dynamic midfield. Donaldson is also showing glimpses of quality but currently, the midfield are lacking the creative dynamism to exploit the experienced front line.
Dylan Connolly showcased his blistering speed and terrorised the Cheltenham defence for brief spells. Whilst Matty Palmer briefly showed promise late on as the Cheltenham team abandoned their hard press. With more time on the ball, the on-loan midfielder managed a few eye-catching passes. Harry Pritchard produced a great ball into the box from a set-piece and looks to be a real asset at this level.
After the defeat, Bradford sit three points off the top three. Another defeat would see the Bantams in danger of falling behind the pack for promotion. This mounts the pressure for the Saturday fixture against Carlisle. Bowyer stated, in his post-match interview, that some members of the squad are still behind with their fitness. Hopefully, with more game time we will see improved performances. As for now, the midfield conundrum is likely to continue.