MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield beaten by single goal against impressive but wasteful Bantams

Ryan Fulton - vital saves, but in vain today. Pic By James Williamson
Ryan Fulton - vital saves, but in vain today. Pic By James Williamson

Chesterfield went down to a single Billy Clarke strike at the Proact, but a host of missed chances could and really should have made Bradford City more handsome winners.

The Spireites, who grew in confidence and possession after the break, struggled to create much in the way of opportunities, while the Bantams didn’t bring their shooting boots.

What will disappoint Town boss Danny Wilson is the manner in which they did concede, falling asleep at a corner and allowing it to be taken short to Clarke who had time and space to rifle the ball home.

Roared on by an almost 2, 000 strong visiting support, Bradford were a handful every time they came forward, Nicky Law and Tomothee Dieng particularly impressive in midfield, Jordy Hiwula a livewire up front.

The opening quarter of an hour was a cagey affair, neither side really dominating possession, the visitors creating the better chances with shots from outside the area, Josh Cullen spooning over and Timothee Dieng blasting wide.

Makeshift left-back Laurence Maguire kept Mark Marshall quiet for the first 25 minutes, but when he was beaten for the first time by the winger Chesterfield were in real trouble, Marshall’s driven shot-cum-cross mercifully missing at the far post.

A minute later the Spireites weren’t so lucky, a quick, short corner sent to the feet of Billy Clarke who turned and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the home net. The quality of the strike was undeniable, but the defending of the set piece questionable.

Had it not been for a sublime piece of goalkeeping from Colin Doyle, Chesterfield would have been level within five minutes, the Bantams stopper clawing a 30-yard Kristian Dennis out of his top corner.

Ryan Fulton had to be sharp at the other end too, beating away a fierce drive from Marshall who was growing increasingly influential as the half progressed.

Nicky Law was also featuring prominently for Stuart McCall’s men and having taken play right up the pitch, cut into the box and sent the ball just wide with Fulton at full stretch.

A show of strength and pace from Gboly Ariyibi led to a penalty shout from the hosts, his ball into the middle for Dennis striking the hand of Romain Vincelot, referee Darren Bond unmoved.

The first half came to an end with a moment that frustrated the home supporters, Chesterfield winning a corner in the final seconds only to take it short and fail to get the ball into the box before Bond’s whistle went to bring play to a halt.

Bradford were denied by Fulton again within two minutes of the restart, Law feeding James Meredith who crossed for Hiwula, the striker’s little flick instinctively blocked by the Spireites keeper, who was moving the other way.

The Bantams were brimming with confidence, neat interplay taking them up the field and forcing Chesterfield to chase shadows.

A better spell for Town saw Wilkinson with a shooting chance before he was crowded out by no fewer than four Bantams.

Maguire’s free-kick was then headed to the back post by Anderson and Hird nodded down and goalwards but tamely, Doyle collecting.

Bradford looked slack in possession once or twice for the first time in the game, but were still a threat on the attack, Dieng finding the run of Meredith with a lovely reverse ball, the left-back firing inches wide.

As the game entered its latter stages, Chesterfield enjoyed much more of the possession and the visitors were having to hang on at times, rescued by the offside flag when Ariyibi got the ball unmarked at the back post and played it across the six-yard box to substitute Ricky German.

The Spireites’ hopes to hit back in stoppage time were dealt a blow when Bradford attacked and forced a corner off Anderson’s important block, allowing the visitors to play keep ball in the corner and run the clock down.

Meredith should have ended the game as a contest when he got the better of Graham and ran onto a long ball, blasting high and wide with only Fulton to beat.

Chesterfield: Fulton, Graham, Maguire, Hird, Anderson, Ariyibi, Mitchell (O’Shea 46) Liddle, Nolan (German 76), Wilkinson, Dennis (Dimaio 63). Subs: Parkin, Evatt, Gardner, Humphreys.

Bradford City: Doyle, Darby, Vincelot, Knight-Percival, Meredith, Marshall, Cullen, Dieng, Law (Morais 78), Hiwula, Clarke (Vuckic 78). Subs: Sattlemaier, Rabiega, Vuckic, Morais, McArdle, Devine, Kilgallon.

Referee: Mr Darren Bond. Assistants: Mr Ian Cooper, Mr Matthew McGrath

Goalscorers: Clarke 26

Yellows: Hird 68, Nolan 72

Attendance: 6997 (1,977)