Match Report: Bradford 2 Sheffield United 0

Dejection for United's 'George Long, Ryan Flynn and Joe Ironside
Dejection for United's 'George Long, Ryan Flynn and Joe Ironside
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Big games are settled on small details but Sheffield United did not need a microscope to identify the cause of this defeat.

While David Weir’s side created enough to have returned home with something to show for their efforts, it was Bradford City who possessed a centre-forward capable of turning opportunity into goals.

Whether or not Nahki Wells, who became the first player in his club’s history to score in eight consecutive games, remains at Valley Parade beyond next month’s transfer deadline remains to be seen.

But, should he depart, then only those of a claret and amber persuasion will be sorry to see him leave.

“Their striker was the difference,” Michael Doyle, the United captain, said. “His first was a great finish.

“But we didn’t make it easy for ourselves out there because, although we started brightly and won a lot of the individual battles, once again we let our opponents off the hook after getting on top.

“We showed the right attitude and character, especially second-half, but not enough quality in and around their box.

“That’s something we’ve all got to make sure changes. Every single one of us.”

Steve Parkin insisted Wells, who has now netted 14 times in his last 13 outings, will not be leaving West Yorkshire anytime soon.

But Phil Parkinson’s assistant, a self-confessed United supporter, knows full well that, in football, money speaks louder than words.

“There have been a few bids but, as far as we’re concerned, Nahki won’t be going anywhere,” he said. “People have had 12 months to come in for him and they’ve not bothered and so we won’t be selling so close to the deadline.

“The chairmen here have been very good. If you want success then you don’t sell your best players. It’s as simple as that.

“There’s so much more to come from Nahki,” Parkin added. “He’s worked hard and he’s come on leaps and bounds but he’s still a raw talent. He’s still got a long way to go.

“United have got some very good lads of their own and we say glimpses of that. But we’ve got momentum too.

“It’s terrific to have someone like that at your disposal because it makes a huge difference although, I’ve got to say, it’s not all about Nahki.

“When I was in charge of Rochdale I was fortunate enough to have Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert.

“So I know that, although it doesn’t make your job any easier, it certainly helps you sleep easier.”

While Parkinson enjoys plenty of shut-eye Weir will be burning the midnight oil searching for a solution to the visitors’ problems in front of goal.

United are only four games into a bold and long-term project which, given time, should leave the club in considerably better shape.

Nevertheless, on Saturday’s evidence, they would benefit enormously from a quick fix in the transfer market.

Potential, pressure and good intentions are worth little without firepower as the sight of numerous opportunities going begging proved.

“You’ve got to give the manager credit,” Doyle said, “He’s made a brave decision to change the style and bring in a new system.

“It’s something we’ve all taken on board, bought into and really enjoy.

“We’re learning some hard lessons at the moment but, no matter how good you are, you’re always going to go through difficult periods in this business.

“Unfortunately we’re experiencing one of those now but we’ve got the players and the character to come through the other side.

“Because that’s how you do it. Through hard work and character.

“I know it hurts the fans and, believe me, these results hurt us too,” Doyle continued. “It probably antagonises them a bit when we go over at the end and clap them but it’s important to show them that respect.

“I’m more than confident that we’ll get there though. Not least because I know the type of lads we’ve got in that dressing room.

“We’ve got to stay positive, stay focused and just get on with it.”

With Weir acknowledging afterwards that he always suspected “the first goal here would be vitally important,” the sight of Jamie Murphy telegraphing a shot towards Jon McLaughlin as early as the third minute will have been cause for concern.

Tony McMahon and Mark Yeates, one of three former United players in City’s squad, exchanged chances while Brandy, who later limped-off with a hamstring injury, was thwarted by McLaughlin after combining well with Murphy and Lyle Taylor.

Wells, who had earlier been denied by George Long’s acrobatic save, showed them the way with a clinical finish before completing the job with a scrambled close-range effort following good work by James Hanson.

The 23-year-old’s intervention came as United, despite Andrew Davies’ commanding display at the heart of City’s rearguard, sensed an equaliser.

Ryan Flynn, who saw a spiralling effort tipped over the crossbar by McLaughlin, later forged a good opening for Joe Ironside but his fellow substitute volleyed wide while the otherwise impressive Harry Maguire should also have done better after rising to meet another McMahon set-piece.

“Sheffield United shouldn’t be in this league,” Doyle said. “And nor should Bradford for that matter.

“But the fact is we are and the longer you stay in it, the harder it is to get out. We’ve definitely got the ability to play ourselves out though.

“And the way to get back on track with that is by digging in, grinding out a win and then pushing on from there.”