MATCH REPORT: Bradford 0 Fleetwood 3

Uwe Rosler
Uwe Rosler

Devante Cole returned to haunt his former club Bradford City and help fire Fleetwood to a first ever win at Valley Parade.

Cole teed-up another former Bantam Jordy Hiwula to open the scoring in the 51st minute and netted himself from close range just minutes later.

Super-sub Ash Hunter wrapped up the three points just seconds after coming off the bench as Fleetwood became only the second team to win at Bradford’s home fortress in over 35 league games.

Though the forward and counter-attacking play will steal the highlights reel this performance was a real cased for the defence with Rosler’s back three Nathan Pond, Ash Eastham and Cian Bolger and keeper Alex Cairns showing their grit to bounce back from conceding eight in their last two league games to pick up a much needed clean sheet.

Rosler made three changes from the 4-2 defeat to Southend for this clash at Bradford.

Midfielder Kyle Dempsey returned from suspension with George Glendon and ex-Bradford man Jordy Hiwula in for Aiden O’Neill who was suspended after he was sent-off against Southend with Wes Burns and Markus Schwabl moving to the bench.

Fleetwood had conceded 15 in their previous five league games and though nerves were still apparent at the back it was Town who had the first chance as Bobby Grant blasted the ball wide from 25-yards out.

After conceding from the first cross into the box against Southend Town coped with the first test at Valley Parade though it was a messy collaborative effort from Bolger and Glendon.

Crosses into the box and set-pieces have been Town’s Achilles Heel in recent weeks but they dealt with the first test. Hiwula nodded a corner from the left away at the near post but only into the path of Jake Reeves who fizzed the ball through a crowd of bodies though it clattered straight into Cairns.

Once again Town threatened from just outside the box as Bolger nodded the ball into the path of Dempsey who danced his way into space before rocketing the ball into the right post from just outside the box.

It was a strong start by Fleetwood though Bradford kept probing down the flanks with Gilliead playing a roaming role allowing him to drift and find pockets of space, he found one on the right of the box and whipped a fierce cross up and over Cairns with Coyle just doing enough at the back stick to stop Vincelot nodding home.

Fleetwood had a purple patch from then on with Glendon pulling the strings and Town releasing both wing-backs Coyle and Bell though it was from set-pieces that Town looked most threatening.

There was a big decision by Graham Salisbury just before the half hour mark as Jordy Hiwula was felled by Knight-Percival on the left, the ex-Bradford man found himself sprawled in the box but the referee ruled he was a whisker outside the box though Dempsey could only blast the set-piece into the wall.

It was a structured and classy display from Town with Dempsey making a real difference as he brought his usual combative flair to the middle of the park,

Though Town were still creaking at the back and Bradford nearly took the lead before the break as Omari Patrick outfoxed Bell on the right and as he danced into the box his low effort cannoned back of Cairns but safely to Dempsey who cleared.

Bradford went for the jugular at the start of the second half but Omari-Patrick could not punish Fleetwood and against the run of play Rosler’s men struck up the other end.

It was the two ex-Bradford forwards that returned to Valley Parade to haunt their former club with Cole pouncing on a loose ball in the Bantams half before sliding in Hiwula on the overlap on the left, he raced through on goal, drew Doyle out before lifting the ball home in the 51st minute.

Referee Salisbury had a big decision to make in the 56th minute as Cole latched on to a poor Knight Percival back header, Cole got there ahead of Doyle who had raced out of his box to greet him. Cole had nipped the ball past Doyle to the left and the ex-Blackpool man clattered into the forward. The referee awarded a set-piece and took an age before wrongly ruling that Doyle had not denied a goal scoring opportunity and brandished a yellow card in the keeper’s direction. But after that injustice Town dusted themselves down and made a killer blow.

Dempsey took the set-piece and after it fortuitously cannoned back off the wall the rest was nothing to do with luck just pure talent as the midfielder danced his way towards the back line before putting the ball on a plate for Cole to fire in his seventh in eight games.

Rosler has said before that 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline and the Bantams piled forward with the chances and set-pieces flowing up the other end but some gallant and brave defending by Bolger, Pond and Eastham ensured Town stayed rock solid.

Gilliead impressed on the right flank and he nearly gave Bradford a lifeline, as his ball found Vicelot who lost his runner Dempsey but his effort was well saved by Cairns and mopped up by a furious Bolger who let the midfielder know his thoughts on his contribution.

After that Cairns save Bradford continued to press but Town nearly and should have put the game to bed in the 66th minute as Cole and Hiwula broke on the counter though Hiwula’s return pass of an attempted one-two went askew with the Bantams wide open and there for the taking.

Skipper Pond almost netted at the wrong end as he nearly diverted the ball past Cairns but lady luck was shining on Fleetwood and the ball trickled the right side of the post for a corner.

Ash Hunter came off the bench in the 69th minute and he did seal the game with just his second touch. Town drove out from the back and rallied on the counter with Cole eventually slipping the ball to Hunter on the left with the forward taking one touch and then hammering the ball home in the 70th minute as his golden run off the bench continued.

Bradford still threatened but Town managed to hold on and keep that much needed clean sheet to cap a fine night under the floodlights.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Bolger, Pond, Eastham, Coyle, Dempsey, Glendon (Sowerby, 81), Grant, Bell, Hiwula (Hunter, 69), Cole (Burns, 84). Subs not used: Neal, Rodgers, Godswill, Schwabl.

Bradford: Doyle, McMahon, Knight-Percival, Kilgallon, Chicksen, Gilliead, Vincelot, Reeves, Law, Patrick (Wyke, 57), Jones (Taylor, 57). Subs not used: Raeder, Thompson, Field, Hendrie.

Referee: Graham Salisbury.

Attendance: 18799 (Fleetwood 99)