Bradford v Pompey: Insider

It has been a spectacular collapse for Bradford, now it's about restoring pride.

Tuesday, 17th April 2018, 12:00 pm
Bradford's 14-goal top-scorer Charlie Wyke is having a productive season.

The Bantams came from behind to win 2-1 at Fleetwood on New Year's Day, establishing themselves fifth in League One with a seven-point cushion in the play-offs.

There seemed nothing to worry about for the club which the previous campaign lost to Millwall in the 85th minute of the play-off final.

Since that moment, they have won one out of 15 matches, lost manager Stuart McCall and are currently 10 points adrift of the play-offs.

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Actually, they have now scored once in the last 10 hours and 40 minutes of football.

The fact Bradford were in such a lofty position in January was down to McCall, who should receive huge credit for overachieving with his squad.

Of the side that started at Wembley in the May play-off final, six departed in the summer, among them West Ham's Josh Cullen.

Those five senior players not on loan were senior professionals, yet replaced by performers slightly younger with potential but not as big characters.

Several key injuries at Christmas brought it to a head and the cover to the side was exposed, leading to a 2-0 defeat at League Two Yeovil in the FA Cup.

Last term they had experience to come in and fill the gaps if injury or suspension intervened, but not anymore.

At the turn of the year, Bradford had an unbelievable away return of nine victories - they still have nine away victories. The last match on their travels was a 5-0 defeat at Blackpool.

In February, Simon Grayson replaced McCall on a short-term deal at his own request, yet just one win has followed.

Officially the club haven't written off the play-offs mathematically, but it doesn't get mentioned in conversation, put it that way.

Last week's goalless Valley Parade draw to Shrewsbury was celebrated as a very small step in the right direction.

The Bantams looked committed, with Grayson's side pressing and chasing the ball, regardless of a horrendous playing surface upon which football is difficult.

Pompey will see such pitch problems themselves this evening and the drainage is being ripped up in the summer. It has been rubbish for years and rain cannot deal with it.

Of the players, Charlie Wyke is top scorer with 14 goals, but has hit the target only twice in 2018, the last on February 10 against Bury.

Matt Kilgallon has been the team's outstanding performer, his displays holding up pretty well in a dreadfully inconsistent season.

He is a vastly experienced centre-half who reads the game well and is a strong character who fronts up when things go wrong.