Bradford City 4-1 Forest Green Rovers: Commanding Cook dictates huge Bantams win over Rovers
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A brilliant performance and brace from Bradford City striker Andy Cook, an early rocket from Elliot Watt and a clever finish from Danny Rowe helped dictate a defining victory over Forest Green Rovers, as the Bantams moved within three points of the play-off places.

Forest Green did snatch a late goal back courtesy of former Sheffield United youngster Jake Young, but it meant very little despite the quality of the strike.

Rovers had their promotion ambitions thwarted by Bolton Wanderers last weekend, and lost star man Jamille Matt early on which damaged the confidence of the club. This extends the run of Forest Green's winless form to four, and with the difficult task of Salford City approaching, Mark Cooper's men will quickly look to recooperate. 

Bradford on the other hand now have crucial back-to-back wins, with six goals scored in their previous two games and having a strong defence, only penetrated by an excellent late strike.

Billy Clarke made his 450th appearance across his career, coming off of the bench in the 72nd minute.

  • Teams

Bradford City: O'Donnell; Cousin-Dawson, P O'Connor, Canavan, Wood, A O'Connor, Watt, Donaldson, Scales, Evans, Cook.

Forest Green Rovers: Thomas; Bernard, Stokes, Moore-Taylor, Cargill, Cadden, Whitehouse, Hutchinson, Wilson, Young, Collins.

  • Story of the match

In what was a fairly slow start to the encounter in West Yorkshire, it was the underdogs who took an early lead. A deep cross from Gareth Evans was failed to be cleared by the Rovers defence, allowing the ball to roll into the path of Watt, who rifled the ball through a crowd of players to clinch the lead.

Watt once again threatened for the Bantams as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box and bended a strike narrowly wide.

Another Bradford attack was spurred as a deep corner found the head of Andy Cook, but the vigilant striker nodded wide of the target.

The home sides dominant start prevailed, as an interception from Clayton Donaldson was propelled forward to Kian Scales, who dinked into the path of Cook but his volley was heroically denied by Lewis Thomas.

Cook continued to threaten for a second, as the ball fell to him from around 45-yards out and he struck an audacious half volley. Mouths gawped as it lobbed Thomas, and was only stopped by the crossbar, an incredible shot prevented by the woodwork.

On the brink of half-time, Forest Green had their first real glimpse of goal as the ball dropped to Elliot Whitehouse who flashed his shot wide.

Into the second half and Bradford's dominant first half performance rolled over the interval. Some sloppy passing from the Forest Green defence, as Jordan Moore-Taylor nodded into the path of Cook, who raced through on goal before bundling the ball past Thomas. A brilliant start to the second half.

Richard O'Donnell made an outstanding triple save to keep out a Forest Green fightback. Firstly stopping an instinctive cross from Kane Wilson which was parried away, and secondly stopping two close range efforts from Taylor Allen

But City confirmed their three points in what could be a significant result for Bradford, as substitute Clarke, on his 450th career appearance, slid the ball through the Forest Green backline into the path of Cook, who cut inside of his man before poking the ball beneath Thomas to snatch his second of the game.

The away side did snatch back a late consolation courtesy of Young, as the former Guiseley man latched onto a rebound from the Bradford defence, before bending a sweet strike into the top corner from 25 yards.

Forest Green were rejuvenated by Young, as he found space on the left and dinked the ball to the back post, but Whitehouse's volley was bundled wide.

But as the Bantams looked to see out the remainder of the game, the pressure was released as they scored a late goal thanks to Rowe. Fellow substitute Charles Vernam fed the ball into the former Oldham Athletic hitman, who toyed with the visiting defenders before sneaking the ball beneath Thomas to finish off an excellent game on Good Friday.

  • Takeaways

Very much Bradford City's day as they run out victors against a promotion challenging Forest Green side who simply weren't at the races today.

Some excellent football from the Bantams , a prime example being the lead up to Cook's first half chance, as his volley was parried by Thomas. But the work done on the training pitch by Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars was clear, with some nice tiki-taka being played and chemistry clearly very high in the Bradford camp right now, despite a number of injury woes. 

Furthermore, every single team currently in the play-offs, and Exeter City, all lost today, boosting Bradford's chances of closing the gap.

From a Forest Green point of view, it is now key to make sure that this bad run comes to an end next week, and that the injury of Matt doesn't derail their season too much. A play-off position isn't bad, but the club need to find some stability immediately if they are to be serious about League One football next season.

  • Star man

Bradford striker Cook has to take the plaudits today, being a constant nuisance for a strong Rovers defence and grasping his brace, the victory wouldn't have been possible without him.