The Warmdown: Bradford City and Walsall play out an eventful draw at the Utilita Energy Stadium
Bradford City v Walsall - Sky Bet League Two
BRADFORD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Joss Labadie of Walsall is shown a red card during the Sky Bet League Two match between Bradford City and Walsall at Utilita Energy Stadium on September 04, 2021 in Bradford, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Bradford City drew at home to Walsall in League Two with the hosts having the better of the chances over the 90 minutes as they looked for an important three points at the top end of the table. The Saddlers played themselves into the game well, the Bantams taking the lead though through a great goal by Elliot Watt from just outside the box. 

With a steady start in the early stages, the Bantams were looking to break into their stride with the Saddlers looking to gain an early initiative.  The first real chance of the contest fell to Bradford City. In trying to break the deadlock in front of home fans, Andy Cook's effort blocked against an opponent before Gareth Evans' acrobatic follow up was tipped over the bar. 

The Bantams were the better of the sides after 10 minutes on the clock, Paudie O'Connor rising to meet City's second corner in quick succession, heading narrowly wide of the post. The West Yorkshire team would go ahead after 14 minutes. Their corner was cleared as far as Watt who on his 50th league start for the club hit a crashing half volley into the far corner. 

The visitors looked to respond following a corner but struggled to find a way through with 20 minutes gone in the game. Bradford were given the opportunity to double their lead courtesy of Callum Crooke and Alex Gilliead linking up very well, the former cross for Charles Vernam but he planted his header wide. 

Walsall drew level on the 42nd minute, the ball pulled into the box and Jack Earing was on the end of it, converting from close range. Walsall found themselves down to 10 men as skipper Joss Labadie lunged in on Gareth Evans with a dangerous tackle. As the half time whistle was blown, both teams went in level pegging, a decent half from Bradford's point of view but their efforts cancelled out by Earing's goal just before the interval.

City continued to put the visitors under pressure, attacking towards the Kop in the second period. Cook's shot in the 52nd minute rippled the side netting sending many City supporters ecstatic thinking their side had retaken the lead. But as both teams piled on the pressure in the closing stages neither could find the decisive goal to put their team ahead in a bid to takeaway the three points. Bradford pushed hard with the Saddlers holding on in the latter stages for the point.

Embed from Getty Images

  • Match statistics

The contest was more or less dominated by Bradford, they had the better possession of the ball. Walsall tried to find a foothold in the contest during the 90 minutes and had only  seven shots on goal during the game compared to Bradford's massive 17, with five shots on target to the visitors’ two.

The possession count for the Bantams was higher with a 67% to 33% ratio at the Utilita Energy Stadium. The total pass count for the Bantams was 504 to Walsall's 263. The West Yorkshire side had the better passing accuracy of 81% to the visitors 58%.

The statistics tell us the game was an open one, with Bradford having the better of the play overall.

  • Taylor hails the point gained away from home for the Saddlers

Walsall now have Mansfield Town at the Banks Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the Saddlers boss spoke after the important point gained, he said:

"First of all it feels like more than a point because what that has given the players as a group is fantastic, we saw the way they worked for eachother, we saw the way they put their bodies on the line. From my perspective I think a point, when we was playing the last 50 minutes with 10 men is a fantastic result, especially here.

”They are the favourites at our level. I thought we dealt with the crowd exceptionally well, I thought some of our younger players, considering this was their first experience in this kind of atmosphere were immense so really happy with the performance and exceptionally proud of the players."

Embed from Getty Images