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5 Things: Bradford City 2 - 2 Bolton Wanderers

Truly a game of two halves!

Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Smells Like Team Spirit

Well, what a game! Our first-half performance may well have been dreadful, and my anger at that was compounded by the sheer incompetance on display from the catering staff at the ground while I attempted to buy a half-time pie, but it was great to see the lads turn the game on it's head in the second half. The kind of character needed to come back from being completely outplayed and 2 nil down at a team sitting 5th in the table to snatch a point is something that has been sorely lacking over the last few seasons, and is testament to the great job Phil Parkinson has been doing. Watching Arsenal get their arses handed to them in the second half against Bayern this week provided a useful reminder of the importance of keeping calm and staying organised. Exemplifying this never say die attitude was...

David Wheater

Scorer of Wanderers' first goal, Wheater grew in influence and kept us in the game with some vital interceptions late on as Bradford piled on the pressure in search of a winner. Lead by example and stood out as the man of the match for me. While many initally had reservations at re-signing someone who had been part of such a shambles last season, his experience and leadership have been vital to a defence that is now the best in the league. For the last couple of weeks, that defence has been lining up with...

3 at the back

Seeing a team line up with 3 centre-halves always takes me back to fond memories of Gazzetta Football Italia, but I have always been more sceptical of it's applicability to the English game. Chelsea are running away with the Premiership this season using this formation, fair enough, but that is because it plays to the strengths of every player in the team, and they all have clearly-defined roles. And they have N'golo Kante - the key to playing with wing backs seems to be having an energetic holding midfielder able to cover for them. Plenty of other teams seem to have tried it out this season on the back of Chelsea's success and found that it doesn't work for them. We seem to have found success with it over the last couple of weeks, but the formation was really the reason that we struggled so much in the first half as it didn't suit the players we had out there. There seemed to be acres of space in behind Moxey, and both of their goals came from forwards cutting in from wide areas, as they exploited gaps in our formation. There also seemed be no cover for the back 3 coming from our...


In the first half in particular, Bradford seemed able to knock the ball about the middle of the park with impunity. Nobody got near them and they were able to fluently work the ball forward with ease. Jay Spearing's tenacity was sorely missed as Liam Trotter and Tom Thorpe never looked like getting close to anyone. Trotter, in particular, looked slow and lumbering – I don't think he actually even touched the ball between half time and being mercifully substituted. In the first half he was tidy enough when given the ball, but was too often a yard off the pace of the game and far too slow to close down runners from their midfield, leaving our defence exposed. Josh Vela couldn't cope with having to make all the running earlier in the game, but grew in influence as the game went on and worked really hard late on to help ensure we left with a point. Of course it helped that by then he was playing alongside...

James Henry

Henry surely guaranteed that he would start the next game, hopefully in place of the hapless Trotter (who he replaced), with an excellent cameo in the second half. His introduction, along with the vibrant Viv Solomon-Otabor, turned the game around. Henry has been a bit of an enigma this season, at times completely anonymous while on the pitch, but on Saturday he showed what a talented player he is. He helped to set up both goals, first with a free-kick to Beevers, who knocked the ball down for Wheater to somehow bundle the ball home. His cross for the second goal was so good that even our old friend the Washing Machine couldn't miss – make of that what you will. Aside from this, he worked his socks off and even put in a couple of good tackles late in the game. Deserves a chance next week.