Bradford City’s blip turned into a nightmare this evening, as they were undone by a Scunthorpe United team with just one win in their last eight prior to kick-off.
Goals from Abo Eisa and Devarn Green ensured the three points for Neil Cox’s men, as the Iron snatched their first victory against Bradford since 2017.
Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars’ Bantams have hit a sticky patch, with no wins in their last five off of the back of an incredible run, their once ambitious play-off ambitions have been stamped on.
Youngster Kian Scales was given the nod in what was a vital opportunity for the midfielder to break into the first team on a more permanent basis.
Scunthorpe United: Howard; Howe, Clarke, Bedeau, Brown, Gilliead, Karacan, Spence, Eisa, Green, Loft.
Bradford City: O’Donnell; A O’Connor, P O’Connor, Canavan, Wood, Watt, Sutton, Vernam, Scales, Crankshaw, Cook.
Story of the match
The signs of being on the wane for the Bantams began very early on, as Eisa curled a free-kick in the opening three minutes and forced a vigilant save from Richard O’Donnell.
Eisa did find the breakthrough however just five minutes into the contest. Following a swift counter-attack led by former Bradford player Alex Gilliead, the winger played a fantastic pass that split apart the defence, allowing Eisa to calmly drive through and strike past O’Donnell.
Bradford did respond however, as Charles Vernam spun his man on the edge of box before letting fly, as his effort crashed against the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Following a clash of heads between Levi Sutton and Jacob Bedeau, Elliot Watt stepped up from 30-yards out for a free-kick, and his incredible effort struck the inside of the post before trickling along the goal line and being scrambled clear - nearly a wonder strike from Watt.
Paudie O’Connor sent a searching ball over the top to find the young Scales, but he couldn’t keep his audacious volley down as it sailed wayward.
Eisa continued to look lively, as he was teed up by Devarn Green before his effort was flung over the bar.
Once again that duo spelled trouble, as Eisa fed Green in behind and O’Donnell had to react like a cat to keep out the former Southport forward.
Heading into the second half, the Bantams had a crucial chance to find an equaliser. Ollie Crankshaw looped a teasing cross onto the head of Andy Cook, who knocked it down in the six yard box but somehow Vernam diverted his effort wide in the chaos.
But despite City’s pressure, it was the Iron who nabbed the next goal and some breathing room too, courtesy of that man Green. A deep cross into the box fell onto the head of Ryan Loft, who smartly nodded it down into the path of Green who was composed in rifling the ball past O’Donnell.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Crankshaw looked to spark a glimmer of hope as he found space on the edge of the box, but his effort was blocked valiantly.
Danny Rowe was substituted on and summed up Bradford’s night, as he was booked within two minutes for a needless shove.
Loft looked to pile on the misery, but his dink was well thwarted by O’Donnell.
Gilliead was next to test O’Donnell, as the shot stopper parried his efforts and Loft, Eisa and Alfie Beestin all came close to taking advantage of the rebound.
A glaring opportunity appeared for Paudie O’Connor, as Gareth Evans found the unmarked Irishman at the back post but he could only head wide from a couple of yards.
Into stoppage time and the Iron nearly snatched their third, as Eisa fed the ball into substitute Olofuela Olomola but his strike was well stopped by O’Donnell’s legs.
A crucial victory for Cox which could inspire a blitz of confidence for Scunthorpe, as the Iron record their second victory in nine games.
Bradford faced an Eisa and Green in inspired form, as the attacking duo terrorised the Bantams defence. With their pace, strength and the link up play they demonstrated, Scunthorpe could be into a real partnership going forward.
The Bantams will be left frustrated, and rightly so. But at the end of the day, having nine shots and just two of them on target will not win games, which shows why shooting and accuracy needs to be the focus of training going forward. The woodwork was struck on a number of occasions, and a few crucial chances from close range was squandered- just one of those nights for Bradford.
Eisa was at the heart of most attacks for Scunthorpe, and with a goal tonight that set the game off and knocked Bradford straight back, he should be proud with his performance.