MATCH REPORT: Bradford City 0 Chesterfield 0

Clean sheet: Chesterfield goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell
Clean sheet: Chesterfield goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell
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PLAY-off-placed Bradford City and Chesterfield played out a hard-working but far from fluid goalless draw.

Craig Clay, in a defensive midfield berth, was the pick of the bunch as he did everything possible to keep the League Cup quarter-finalists at bay.

Paul Cook’s side have now kept three consecutive clean sheets in away games in League Two but they were far from the slick side witnessed three days earlier, yet work ethic and solidity were in evidence.

Cook made one change to the side that demolished Hartlepool United in the FA Cup.

Liam Cooper picked up an injury on his debut on loan from Hull so skipper Sam Hird slotted into the defence after his one-match ban.

Chris Atkinson and Liam Ridehalgh returned to the bench after being ineligible on Saturday.

City, whose last four matches have all been on the road, were without their first choice central defenders, both injured, so John Egan came in for a debut having been loaned from Sunderland.

Phil Parkinson was also without Ricky Ravenhill, missing for the third game of three after a red card.

The visitors had to change shorts ahead of the game.

They’d turned up with white ones, the same as Bradford, so ref Stuart Atwell, relegated from the Premier in February, made Spireites wear City’s spare black shorts.

The hosts included ex Chesterfield loan man James Meredith, who also had a spell at Sligo Rovers under Spireites boss Cook back in 2007.

Starting the game in fifth spot, Bradford’s best result of late was a goalless Capital One Cup draw at Wigan, but they beat the top-flighters on penalties and will now play Arsenal at home.

The first half passed by with little real action.

Richard O’Donnell had to dive swiftly left to palm away a Gary Jones 25 yard free-kick, the opening 45’s only effort on target.

Will Atkinson fired wide from a good spot before Danny Whitaker also hit wide and then saw a shot blocked as Chesterfield struggled to threaten but they were containing City well, though there were few glimpses of the fluidity of the weekend with only Clay, who was breaking up everything in the middle, playing at the top of his game ahead of the interval.

After the break the game started at some pace with Matt Duke having to dive at the feet of Boden after a Sam Togwell through ball and from that break City earned a corner that Egan headed justy over.

Jones hit firmly but wide as did sub Alan Connell, twice, before Spireites replacement Atkinson headed a Darikwa cross into the arms of Duke, Chesterfield’s first real chance, coming as the game opened up in the latter stages.

Atkinson shot just over a couple of minutes from time and Nathan Smith had to nick the ball off the toes of Nahki Wells to ensure the game remained goalless.

Chesterfield now prepare for a trip to the Memorial Stadium for a game with Bristol Rovers in the knowledge that no travelling Spireites side has ever returned from Rovers with maximum points.

BRADFORD (4-4-2): Duke 6, Darby 7, Egan 6, McArdle 7, Meredith 6 , Atkinson 8, G.Jones 6, Doyle 6, Hines 7 (Forsyth 82), Thompson 7 (Connell 67, 6), Wells 6. Subs (not used): McLaughlin, R.Jones, McHugh, Baker, Brown.

CHESTERFIELD (4-2-3-1): O’Donnell 6, Talbot 6, Forbes 7, Hird 6, Smith 6, Togwell 7, Clay 8, Whitaker 6 (Ridehalgh 63, 6), Darikwa 6, Randall 6 (Atkinson 59, 6), Boden 6 (Westcarr 72). Subs (not used): Mason, Lester, Hazel, Evans.

Ref: S Atwell (Nuneaton).

Bookings: Smith, Atkinson (Chestfld), G.Jones (Bradford).

Attendance: 8,841