Bradford take all three points in tight contest against Morecambe at Valley Parade


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Bradford edged Morecambe in a 2-1 victory for the Bantams with both sides playing out an enthralling League Two encounter.

Mark Trueman has done a fine job since taking over at Valley Parade alongside Connor Sellars and bounced back from their first defeat against Exeter last time out thanks to goals from Anthony O’Connor and Charles Vernam, after John O’Sullivan’s opener for the Shrimps.

It was a fascinating battle as the Bantams’ technically tight midfield battled with Morecambe’s sturdy block, adept at pinching the ball and countering with devastating speed, with Trueman stating after the game:

“Morecambe are in the play-off positions because they are a good team, but we showed our qualities – in and out of possession.”

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The hotly fought contest was ultimately settled by a moment of controversy, however, with the Bantams’ winner seemingly helped along from a questionable offside call.

The game started at a fast tempo, and it was the home side who had the first big chance.  A low cross from Connor Wood found Vernam on the penalty spot, who struck a first-time shot just past the Morecambe post. Under no pressure, the January signing arguably should have done better to take his tally for the club to two goals.

In keeping with the energetic start to the game, Morecambe had a chance of there own just minutes later. Target man Cole Stockton found space in the area to fizz a low cross across the six-yard box to Carlos Mendes-Gomes, who was unable to turn home under pressure from the Bradford defence.

In the ninth minute, it was the Shrimps who took the lead through O’Sullivan. The influential Irish midfielder swung in what he may claim to be a shot from the right-wing, which looped over an unprepared Sam Hornby into the top corner.

The goal did not deter Bradford, though, with Vernam a bright spark from the right cutting in and dragging a shot wide of the post after 15 minutes.

The Yorkshire side continued to build pressure and it wasn’t long before they were level in the 28th minute. A slick move down the right flank saw Levi Sutton help work full-back O’Connor into the penalty area, whose powerful effort was headed straight at Kyle Letheren before a stray boot from former Bantam Kelvin Mellor turned the ball into the top corner.

The goal seemed to spark some life back into Morecambe, with another former Bradford player in Nathaniel Knight-Percival slashing a wild effort over the bar from O’Sullivan’s low cross.

The visitors came close again in the 41st minute, with neat play between Mellor and Aaron Wildig setting the latter up for a shot from the edge of the area. The midfielder could only send his effort over the bar.

The second half started at a similar frenetic tempo to the first, and it was Morecambe who had a good early chance in the 51st minute as O’Sullivan played in an overlapping Mellor, who sliced his shot from a good position in the area high and wide.

Two minutes later, Bradford fired their reply as a tidy one-two between Sutton and Callum Cooke saw the former Peterborough midfielder place a shot just wide from the edge of the area as Bradford started to build pressure once again.

It was the Shrimps who had the best chance of the opening period in the second-half as a characteristic turnover in midfield saw O’Sullivan play in Mendes-Gomes. The Spanish winger was caught up by O’Connor who made a vital intervention to prevent what looked like a certain goal.

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The 63rd minute saw Bradford take the lead in a similar fashion to the Shrimps in the first half, but with a controversial edge.

Vernam received the ball on the left and in a similar position that O’Sullivan had, but this time cut inside on his left foot and swung a cross-shot towards the far post. As the ball floated across the box, an offside Gareth Evans stepped forward to swing a leg at the ball but was deemed as not interfering with play by the referee who allowed the goal to stand.

Morecambe were forced to push forward to look for an equaliser, but in doing so compromised their compactness in midfield which saw Bradford break through and create an opportunity with substitute Danny Rowe crossing for Vernam to head just over.

The Shrimps’ efforts to get forward were in vain as Bradford did a highly effective job of shutting up shop in the latter stages of the match. A well-struck Brad Lyons volley from the edge of the area that whistled over the bar was about all Morecambe could manage in the last ten minutes of the game, as the Bantams held out for a superb three points. 

The result sees Morecambe drop out of the Play-Offs as they go winless in four following excellent form over the Christmas period. Bradford climb four places to 16th as they look to continue climbing the table after a torrid start to the season.

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