Sixfields setback for Cobblers as they draw blank against Bantams

Scott Pollock in action for the Cobblers against Bradford (Picture: Pete Norton)Scott Pollock in action for the Cobblers against Bradford (Picture: Pete Norton)
Scott Pollock in action for the Cobblers against Bradford (Picture: Pete Norton)
Cobblers missed a host of chances as their faltering promotion charge hit another stumbling block when held to a frustrating goalless draw by Bradford City at Sixfields on Saturday.

Town dominated much of the contest and had enough opportunities to win three games of football, but they endured a day to forget in front of goal and as a result can now probably kiss goodbye to their chances of winning automatic promotion.

Cobblers largely controlled the first-half without creating too many clear-cut openings and it was more of the same after the break before Bradford finished strong and almost won it themselves.

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The point is not a disaster but neither does it really help Town's promotion challenge, especially given results elsewhere.

They slip a place to fifth in Sky Bet League Two and are under severe pressure from a number of teams directly below them.

There was plenty of interesting team news ahead of kick-off at Sixfields with Scott Pollock handed his first league start of the season and Louis Appere and Josh Eppiah also back in as Jon Brady made three changes.

Eppiah and Sam Hoskins started either side of Appere in a 4-3-3, and there was an unexpected but welcome appearance in the squad for Shaun McWilliams, who had originally been ruled out for the season, as he made the bench alongside Ali Koiki.

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Cobblers dominated the opening exchanges and won a succession of early corners and free-kicks but they were all seen off by the away side.

The first chance of the game fell for Appere after 14 minutes from Mitch Pinnock’s pass but the angle was narrowing by the second as he bore down on goal and eventually he dragged wide of the far post.

Bradford were struggling to make much of an impression but they would have had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock if not for a superb last-ditch tackle by Joseph Mills on Andy Cook as the Bantams striker shaped to shoot inside the box.

Cobblers continued to push though and Pollock’s shot from the middle of the box had to be blocked while Hoskins sent his free-kick straight down the throat of goalkeeper Alex Bass.

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The home side also saw a strong shout for a penalty turned away.

Pinnock almost scored a beauty towards the end of the half, cracking an effort just wide from 25 yards, and then Eppiah’s low cross-shot neither hit the target nor found Hoskins and Appere in the middle.

It a similar story in the second-half and Cobblers had their best chance of the lot just three minutes in when Hoskins won possession back and slipped in Appere, but he shot feebly into the hands of Bass.

If Town were fearing it wasn’t going to be their day, what happened next would hardly have helped.

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Pinnock’s low cross was a whisker away from Appere before the ball pinged about in the six-yard box with Eppiah and Pollock unable to convert, before Hoskins somehow hit the bar with the goal gaping.

Cobblers lost some control and momentum after that and Bradford came into the contest with their best spell of the game, albeit without troubling Liam Roberts.

Chanka Zimba, Ali Koiki and Bez Lubala were all introduced in the final 20 minutes and one of those almost played a part in the opening goal as Lubala’s miscued shot fell to Hoskins, but Bass was out quickly to smother.

With chances drying up, Town were almost hit by the sucker-punch in the final few moments with Lee Angol heading wide and Roberts brilliantly tipping Callum Cooke's shot onto the crossbar.

Match facts

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Cobblers: Roberts, McGowan, Horsfall, Guthrie, Mills © (Koiki 73), Sowerby, Pollock, Pinnock, Hoskins, Eppiah (Zimba 73), Appere (Lubala 77)

Subs not used: Maxted, Harriman, McWilliams, Rose

Bradford: Bass, Ridehalgh, O’Connor ©, Songo’o, Walker, Evans (Vernam 63), Watt, Hendrie, Pereira, Gilliead (Cooke 81), Cook (Angol 63)

Subs not used: O’Donnell, Foulds, Kelleher, Lavery

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 5,548

Bradford fans: 557