Bradford City 0-1 Salford City: Happy returns for Bowyer as Ammies cruise into the play-offs
Above: Bradford City joint manager Mark Trueman after last weekend’s defeat to Port Vale (Source: Lewis Storey, Getty Images)

A last ditch audacious finish from veteran striker Ian Henderson helped steer Salford City into the Sky Bet League Two play-offs.

Bradford City on the other hand suffered their fifth consecutive defeat, as worries begin to grow surrounding the future under Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars.

Gary Bowyer made his return to Valley Parade, however it was in charge of the Ammies, who are now unbeaten in four and have won their previous three games.

  • Teams

Bradford City: Hornby; Cousin-Dawson, A O’Connor, P O’Connor, Wood; Sutton, Watt, Cooke; Vernam, Cook, Evans.

Salford City: Hladky; Bernard, Eastham, Turnbull, Touray; Lowe, Threlkeld; Gotts, Thomas-Asante, Hunter; Henderson.

  • Story of the match

Prior to kick-off, both Sellars and Callum Cooke of Bradford were full of praise for Bowyer, despite his rocky ending with the Bantams early last year.

Joint manager Sellars said: “Gary has done a fantastic job so far, and is a great manager and a great guy. We are looking forward to it.” 

Cooke, who has played under Bowyer at Bradford and Blackpool, agreed with his current managers incentive, saying:

I thought he was going to take us up. He obviously gave me that opportunity to get back playing and enjoying football again. I was coming off the back of a season of only making about 10 starts at Peterborough, and I just wanted to get back playing and he gave me that platform. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Despite all the praise and plaudits for the Ammies gaffer, it was in fact the Bantams who got underway the stronger, as Charles Vernam and Andy Cook forced early saves from Vaclav Hladky.

Salford responded with Leeds United lonee Robbie Gotts, who had a precise touch past his man before forcing Sam Hornby into an agile save.

On the brink of half time the deadline was nearly broke courtesy of Brandon Thomas-Asante, who had replaced the suspended Richie Towell for this game, but he flashed his effort wide of the target.

Heading into the second half, Bradford looked the more likely of the two to nick an opener, as a corner from Gareth Evans found Vernam in the box but a mix up between himself and Finn Cousin-Dawson sprawled the opportunity.

Thomas-Asante was once again a threat for the Ammies however, as he wriggled into space in the Bradford box and mustered a shot, but a crucial deflection prevented a potential goal for Salford.

Vernam was another player who was actively lively in this game, as he cut back a tremendous ball into the path of Cooke, after a Lee Novak dummy, but his shot was wayward of the target from close range.

But Henderson, who was a nuisance to Bradford every time they faced one another, once again punished the Bantams at the third attempt in ten minutes. His first was offside, but nevertheless forced an excellent goal line clearance from Anthony O’Connor, his second once again needed a crucial O’Connor block to prevent an inevitable goal, and his third resulted in his 17th of the season, as the 36-year old beat the Bradford offside trap before cheekily dinking over an unfortunate Hornby to clinch three pivotal points for Salford.

  • Takeaways

Trueman and Sellars out of ideas?

No manager wants to lose a game, so losing five in a row must hurt the two youngest managers in the football league. Trueman and Sellars have done a remarkable job since taking over in December, but appear to have run out of ideas on how to break teams down and have forgotten the philosophy they once ingrained into the club. With Bradford’s season officially over, it looks like it’s time for experimentation in the final two games of the season.

Ammies aim for League One

It is fantastic news for Salford however, as the Ammies climb into the play-offs in replacement of Forest Green Rovers. A huge victory for Bowyer’s men, not just from a personal standpoint but being able to win those games where perhaps the team hasn’t been at their best is crucial in a promotion season and that’s just been seen with Salford.

  • Star man

​​​​​​​Jordan Turnbull

Despite it being the veteran Henderson who got the late winner, centre-back Turnbull was a huge influence in the victory, acting as a rock in that back line and consistently playing out of the back, with 82% pass success ratio.