Bradford City 0 Barnsley 1 - Match Report

Marley Watkins and boss Lee Johnson celebrate the goal against Bradford
Marley Watkins and boss Lee Johnson celebrate the goal against Bradford
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Impressive Barnsley march on menacingly towards the top half of Sky Bet League One table thanks to a superb fifth straight victory, this time at Bradford.

Marley Watkins grabbed the all-important winning goal very early in an entertaining game which featured bags of chances at either end.

Marley Watkins knocks in the only goal of the game against Bradford

Marley Watkins knocks in the only goal of the game against Bradford

The only Reds team change at Valley Parade was a rather worrying one, with Ashley Fletcher being forced to step into Adam Hammill’s shoes.

Hammill, so inspirational during Barnsley’s recent surge in fortunes, suffered a knee injury late in Saturday’s 6-1 thumping of Rochdale and could be out for four weeks or more.

The Reds certainly didn’t miss Hammill in the opening stages at Valley Parade. Lee Johnson’s men stormed into the lead after just three minutes.

George Williams flung over an excellent cross from the left flank and Watkins glanced a neat header - his seventh goal of the season - past flat-footed ‘keeper Ben Williams.

Marley Watkins and boss Lee Johnson celebrate the goal against Bradford

Marley Watkins and boss Lee Johnson celebrate the goal against Bradford

The visitors threatened regularly during a hugely impressive opening quarter-of-an-hour.

Watkins curled a super effort narrowly wide, as did striker-in-form Sam Winnall.

It was almost half-an-hour before the Bantams seriously threatened Adam Davies’s goal. At that point the hosts were unlucky when Billy Clarke appeared to inadvertently divert Josh Morris’s goal-bound strike away from the target.

The Reds went on to boss the latter stages of the first period, too.

Little Lloyd Isgrove was looking a major threat, and he tee’d up Winnall who curled a great effort a whisker past the far post from 20 yards.

The Bantams paraded some renewed impetus in the early stages of the second period.

Morris almost levelled in the 50th minute when he flashed an arrowing low drive across goal with Davies well beaten.

At the other end, Fletcher almost celebrated his first start with a goal as he went on a direct run before poking a shot into the side-netting.

Josh Brownhill then almost scored his maiden Reds goal twice inside the space of 30 seconds. Firstly he was denied by a last-ditch Rory McArdle tackle, then his 20-yard screamer fizzed inches over the top.

Bradford should have levelled after 61 minutes. Pouncing on a poor Davies clearance, Jamie Proctor missed an unguarded goal, though he was some 45 yards out.

The pendulum swung once again as the final 10 minutes approached, and Winnall must have thought he’d scored, only to be thwarted by a frantic goal-line clearance from McArdle.

Fletcher also came mighty close to a second goal just before he was replaced, this time being denied by a smart Williams save.

n Central defender Alfie Mawson limped out of last night’s game after just 19 minutes with what looked like a hamstring injury.

TEAMS

Bradford: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Burke (N Clarke, 46), Meredith, Marshall, Morris, McMahon, Routis (Knott, 71), Proctor, B Clarke (Davies, 55). Subs not used: Cracknell, Hanson, Leigh, Reid.

Yellow cards: McMahon (87).

Red cards: None.

Barnsley: Davies, Bree, Long, Mawson (Roberts, 19), G Williams, Isgrove (Khan, 90), Brownhill, Hourihane, Fletcher (Scowen, 82), Winnall, Watkins. Subs not used: Townsend, Abbott, Templeton, H White.

Yellow cards: Winnall (44).

Red cards: None.

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).