A second half strike from Charles Vernam was the difference between Bradford City and Morecambe, as Mark Trueman bounced back from his first defeat as City interim manager.
Bradford were returning from two consecutive postponements, to the club’s frustration, and hadn’t played 90 minutes since the 6th of February.
The Bantams had club captain Richard O’Donnell returning to the squad, but the 32-year old wasn’t risked against promotion chasers Morecambe.
Morecambe had also fallen victim to postponements, as they had had their tie with Scunthorpe United cancelled at the weekend.
The Shrimps also had midfielder Yann Songo’o returning from suspension, following his breach of the FA conduct by allegedly using homophobic slurs
Bradford City: Hornby; A O’Connor, Canavan, P O’Connor, Wood, Watt, Sutton, Vernam, Cooke, Evans, Cook.
Morecambe: Letheren; Mellor, Knight-Percival, Lavelle, Gibson, Diagouraga, Songo’o, O’Sullivan, Wildig, Mendes Gomes, Stockton.
Story of the match
It was Trueman’s Bradford that created the opening opportunity, as some impressive build-up play involving Callum Cooke and Gareth Evans ended up with Connor Wood, but his squared cross could only be steered wide by Charles Vernam, making his home debut.
Morecambe looked to immediately respond to the Bantams teasing warning, as Cole Stockton found space and spun a ball into the box which deflected wide off of Carlos Mendes Gomes, who is formerly of Atletico Madrid.
But whether if it was fluke or intelligence by Morecambe winger John O’Sullivan, he gave the Shrimps the lead in just under ten minutes. The 27-year old capitalised on some poor positioning by Sam Hornby, as his looping cross sailed over the goalkeeper’s head and into the far corner. An unfortunate start for Bradford.
However, the lead didn’t last long as, on his 100th start for the club, Anthony O’Connor found the equaliser for City. Levi Sutton, who has received plaudits in recent weeks, charged into the Morecambe box before cutting the ball back into the path of A O’Connor, whose strike took a major deflection before nestling past Kyle Letheren. A deserved equaliser for the home side, who had had a healthy spell of possession.
O’Sullivan was involved once again for Morecambe, as his cross found former Bantam Nathaniel Knight-Percival in the box, but he couldn’t keep his body over the ball and it sailed aimlessly over the bar.
Another former Bradford player had a sniff of goal, as O’Sullivan played Kelvin Mellor in behind but his powerful shot was blasted over the bar.
Morecambe continued to play with intensity, as O’Sullivan fed Mendes Gomes in behind, but as he faced down one-on-one with Hornby an excellent challenge from Niall Canavan dispossessed the Spaniard from putting the Shrimps in front.
But it would be the Bantams who were next ahead, as Vernam netted on his home debut in dazzling fashion. Danny Rowe, who had replaced Andy Cook, switched play to fellow new signing Vernam, who cut inside of his man before crossing towards the back post, but amidst the crowd it went in off of the post and into the back of the Morecambe goal.
Courtesy of Vernam, Bradford looked to double their advantage as Cooke, Rowe and Evans spearheaded the attack before Rowe crossed into the six yard box, but Vernam was unable to divert past Letheren and some poor Morecambe defending was spared.
As the match entered its closing stages, Morecambe desperately hunted for an equaliser and were nearly blessed by substitute Brad Lyons, who had a volley from the edge of the box fizz narrowly over the bar.
Following five minutes of additional time, it was Bradford who stole the three points despite Morecambe originally having the lead in a valiant performance from the home side.
In what was an enticing and exciting game for the neutral, it was a nerve racking one- especially for Trueman.
Trueman had originally taken Bradford on an eight game unbeaten streak, which was subsequently ended at the hands of Exeter City just over a week ago. With two consecutive postponements, the interim manager would’ve been desperate for an immediate response from his players, and he got one.
A strong performance to oppose an excellent Morecambe team who had defied expectations thanks to the outstanding management of Derek Adams, this is a win Trueman can be proud of, especially as his players came back from being pegged one goal behind, but showed spirit and grit to turn the game on its head.
From a Morecambe perspective, it’s a disappointing result. Challenging for promotion with the wealth and facilities available to Morecambe is difficult, but it’s important that they see out the tough games like travelling to Valley Parade, if they intend to secure their admission to next season’s League One.
The Shrimps failed to take their chances and punish the Bradford defence, with Stockton and Mendes Gomes not doing enough to ensure three points.
Danny Rowe coming on had a brilliant effect, with him being a nuisance towards the Morecambe defence, but Canavan and Anthony O’Connor also had really impressive games.
O’Sullivan in the Shrimps camp was a threat to Bradford, scoring their only goal and constantly testing the Bantams defence.