Bradford City 2-2 Bolton Wanderers

  • February 18, 2017 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton overcame a miserable opening 45 minutes, as they came from two-down to draw 2-2 with Bradford City at the Northern Commercials Stadium.

On Phil Parkinson's first return since swapping Bradford for Wanderers last summer, the visitors were way off the pace in the early exchanges and found themselves two goals down inside 16 minutes courtesy of a brace from January signing Charlie Wyke.

Bolton were much improved after the break, however, and came back to salvage a point after David Wheater and Gary Madine struck inside the final half-hour to complete the comeback.

After back-to-back home victories over Walsall and Rochdale, Parkinson made two changes to the side that started last time out, both of which were enforced, with Dean Moxey and Tom Thorpe coming in for the injured Andrew Taylor and suspended Jay Spearing.

With Spearing serving the first of a two-match ban, the captain's armband was taken on by Wheater.

Pre-match discussion focused on the reception that would be afforded to Parkinson, who departed his position at Bradford to take over the reigns at Bolton last June. Bantams supporters were generous with their applause, although much of the attention was granted to his successor at Valley Parade, Stuart McCall.

Bolton struggled to get to grips with the game during the opening stages, but did create the first shooing opportunity as Moxey flashed a half-volley narrowly wide of Colin Doyle's upright inside eight minutes.

That proved to be a false dawn for the visitors, however, as Bradford took the lead just two minutes later. Mark Marshall was given too much time to burst forward from midfield before picking out the run of Wyke, whose tame effort looked simple enough for Alnwick, but the ball squirmed from his grasp and into the net as City went 1-0 up.

Their lead was doubled six minutes later, with questions once again being raised over Alnwick. The Wanderers goalkeeper raced off his line in an attempt to intercept a pass from Billy Clarke, but Nicky Law beat him to it and chipped the ball over Alnwick, allowing Wyke to tap home into an empty net for 2-0.

Bolton suddenly burst into life, with Adam Le Fondre seeing a long-range strike palmed away by Doyle, moments before he turned provider for Madine, whose effort from inside the box was also kept out by the Bradford stopper.

Madine was involved again just before the half-hour as he got on the end of a cross from Filipe Morais, but he couldn't keep his header down as Bradford were given a huge let-off.

The visitors began to see more of the ball as the clock ticked towards the half-time break, but they failed to turn possession into shots on goal.

When back in possession themselves, Bradford continued to go in search of a third and twice came close as Clarke saw a shot whistle past the post, shortly before seeing another attempt blocked by the legs of Wheater.

Josh Vela went in the book for a late challenge on Marshall in the final minute of the half, which almost ended with another goal when Marshall teed up Clarke, whose goalbound shot was cleared to safety by a well-placed Mark Beevers, ensuring the score remained at 2-0 going into the interval.

There were no changes to either side as the players emerged for the start of the second period, which began with the hosts spurning a chance to add to their advantage, as James Meredith headed across face of goal with the target at his mercy.

Rory McArdle struck the crossbar on 52 minutes but would have been denied a goal by an offside flag in any case, before a neat move involving Le Fondre and Morais ended with Madine firing high into the stands.

Bolton made a double substitution on the hour, introducing James Henry and Viv Solomon-Otabor in place of Moxey and Liam Trotter, and they were back in the game within two minutes, as they reduced the deficit to one.

After Bradford had failed to deal with a free-kick into their box, the ball fell kindly at the feet of Wheater. He swung a right-foot to send it towards goal and found the back of the net via the inside of Doyle's post for 2-1.

Bantams supporters thought their side's two-goal advantage had been restored at the midway point of the half, but Marshall's thunderous drive from the edge of the box crashed against the stanchion behind the goal.

Marshall was in again four minutes later, somehow evading the offside trap to find himself alone in the Wanderers box, but he comically fell over his own feet, allowing Beevers to track back and clear the danger.

Wasting that opportunity proved vital as, three minutes after that, Bolton were level after an outstanding cross to the far post from Henry picked out Madine, whose header back across goal found its way into the bottom corner to bring the score all-square at 2-2.

The visitors were in the ascendancy at this stage but it was Bradford who almost took the lead once more, as a powerful drive from substitute Timothee Dieng smacked Alnwick's post, shortly before Solomon-Otabor brought Doyle into action at the other end.

Conor Wilkinson was given a run-out for the closing stages, with the departure of Le Fondre allowing both sides to have a breather. Wilkinson was booked within a minute of his introduction for kicking the ball away at a set-piece, while Thorpe joined him seconds later for a trip on Romain Vincelot.

Five minutes were added for stoppages at the end of the game and it almost provided the visitors with a winning goal, but Madine's header from a Thorpe cross was straight at Doyle, who held the ball to ensure the game ended at 2-2.

Bolton's failure to secure three points means they have won just one of their last eight games on the road, but coming from two-down to secure a draw will provide a confidence boost to Parkinson's players ahead of next Saturday's trip to Sheffield United.

United top the League One table following the weekend results, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Scunthorpe United, the side Bolton trail by two points ahead of their game at Bramall Lane next time out.

Bradford City: Doyle, McMahon, McArdle, Vincelot, Meredith, Marshall (Hiwula 82), Law (Gilliead 78), Cullen, Knight-Percival, Wyke, Clarke (Dieng 67)
Subs Not Used: Sattelmaier, Darby, Toner, Devine
Booked: Cullen
Goals: Wyke 10,16

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Beevers, Wheater, Osede, Moxey (Henry 60), Thorpe, Trotter (Solomon-Otabor 60), Vela, Morais, Le Fondre (Wilkinson 88), Madine
Subs Not Used: Howard, Dervite, Clayton, Perry
Booked: Vela, Wilkinson, Thorpe
Goals: Wheater 62, Madine 75

Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 21,190

Football betting site Betway

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2018/19 Player of the Year?
34.62% Gary O'Neil
19.38% David Wheater
18.92% Pawel Olkowski
9.27% Joe Williams
5.33% Jason Lowe
4.13% Sammy Ameobi
2.85% Josh Magennis
2.75% Mark Beevers
1.19% Jack Hobbs
1.01% Ben Alnwick
0.28% Andrew Taylor
0.28% Craig Noone