Exeter City 0-0  Bradford City: Promotion favourites play out scrappy opening day draw
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse / Getty Images

Promotion hopefuls Exeter City and Bradford City played out a tight, all be it entertaining, goalless draw on the opening day of the season in League Two at St James' Park. 

With fans back in the stands for the first time in almost 18 months the two sides, both tipped to do well this season, produced plenty of chances in a dramatic 90 minutes but neither could find the killer touch in front of goal. 

  • Story of the match 

After a hectic summer in which they signed nine new players along with a new manager, Bradford could have been forgiven for making a slow start at St James' Park but the West Yorkshire side wasted little time in getting on the front foot in the opening day fixture. 

Last seasons top scorer Andy Cook came close to giving the Bantams the lead in just the second minute when he came inches away from tapping the ball in after wide-man Lee Angol placed a teasing cross across the goal line.

Derek Adams' side would then come even closer with 22 minutes gone when Cook got his head on the end of a Callum Cooke free-kick from wide only to see his attempt headed off the line by Gracian's defender Pierce Sweeney.

Only two minutes later the visitors again knock on the door when midfielder Cooke cut in from the left hand side and saw his deflected shot well saved by Exeter keeper' Cameron Dawson who then produced a truly miraculous reflex stop to deny Angol with the rebound from short range. 

As the first half went on the pace of the game began to slow, however, and the hosts began to grow into the match, coming close  themselves in first period stoppage time Jack Sparkes forced a good save out of Bradford goalie Richard O'Donnell who then parried the ball into the path of Sam Nombe but the 22-year-old could only fire over the bar. 

Levi Sutton was first to come close to opening the scoring for the visitors following the break after the central midfielder burst forward from the deep but could only watch as his edge of the box shot bounced just wide of the post in the 64th minute. 

With the home crowd back at St James' park for the first time since March 2020, Exeter began to pile on the pressure late in the game with a raucous support cheering them on.

The moment of the game for the hosts came in the 87th minute though, when Nigel Atangana failed to connect with the ball at the back post with the goal gaping after a teasing cross flashed across the whole of the goal face before only ending as a Gracian's corner. 

Both sides, however, likely felt happy to come away with a point from what was a tightly contested affair between two teams that seem destined to be competing at the top end of the fourth division this season. 

The creative Cooke came into the game with a lot of pressure on his shoulders having come off a stellar, all be it injury hit, season with the Bantams last time out and he once again showed why he is so highly rated at the club.

The 24-year-old was the most creative player in the game and came close on a number of occasions to breaking the deadlock in a tight game. 

His passing ability and skills at running with the ball caused the Exeter defence problems all day and showed just a glimpse of what he may be able to achieve this campaign.