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Brentford press self-destruct Button but ruthless Bantams sure make most of extra man advantage
David Button was sent off by referee Andy Haines for this reckless challenge on City striker Nahki Wells Picture: Claire Epton – http://capturedbyclaire.wordpress.com
Bradford City 4 Brentford 0
Uwe Rosler had some pointed remarks to say about City as he picked through the bones of Brentford’s 4-0 drubbing.
The German, like Greg Abbott a few weeks ago, suggested the Bantams “play a lot of things down” and were a little coy about their supposed financial muscle.
But among the odd barb, Rosler was very clear on one issue. He had no doubt that City are proper top-six material.
Brentford should know. They fell at the final hurdle to Yeovil at Wembley on the day City were still nursing their promotion hangovers.
Ask Phil Parkinson about objectives for this season and the answer will always be the same: Do our best and see where that takes us.
It’s a careful mantra designed to keep heads out of the clouds and feet firmly on terra firma. That way it also keeps City flying under the radar of others.
But many more results like Saturday and that will all change. Like a boxer chinning a top-ten contender, their ranking among the pack will have risen quickly.
Obviously, Brentford’s hopes were hit massively by losing their keeper so early on. They had no guard to protect against the constant jabbing of the home side.
But the onus was still on City to finish the job – and they once again demonstrated a clinical style that is fast becoming the norm at Valley Parade.
The feelgood factor in BD8 shows no hint of waning. Played three, won three, scored ten without one goal conceded – that’s plenty of buck for your season ticket.
To add to that was the welcome sight of Luke Oliver emerging from nearly a year stuck on the sidelines to renew the defensive partnership with Andrew Davies that had once been such a bedrock of City’s foundations.
Oliver’s call came as a shock – and Parkinson only told the player on Saturday morning.
As much as it showed his faith in the big man after such a long recovery from injury, it also suggested he remains unconvinced by Matt Taylor, who did seem the natural replacement while Rory McArdle is with Northern Ireland.
Taylor had looked woeful at Hartlepool four days earlier – although he was not the only one.
There was no hint of rust about Oliver’s return and he was helped hugely by the dominant presence of Davies at his shoulder. Like Nathan Doyle, Davies seems to have gone through the gears since City stepped up a division.
Their task got easier, of course, once Brentford went down to ten men and Marcello Trotta was sacrificed for the sub goalkeeper.
David Button’s 25th-minute dismissal was the crucial point of the game, tilting a well-balanced contest firmly in City’s favour.
Nahki Wells swooped menacingly on a long ball, knowing full well that the keeper was approaching at maximum impact. The City hitman was promptly flattened as the pair met on the edge of the penalty area.
Rosler called the sending off harsh and the direction of the ball suggested his keeper did get a slight touch on it first.
But the ferocity and recklessness of his approach, once verified by the assistant Bob Roberts who had a perfect view, left referee Andy Haines with little option but to reach for the red.
Certainly watching it again on TV showed how Wells could have suffered far more than the sore shoulder he was treated for at the end of the game.
Before then, Brentford had posed the attacking threat to back up Parkinson’s pre-game warning that they were the best team City had encountered so far.
Davies made the first of several crucial interventions to block a goal-bound thump from George Saville, and Jon McLaughlin had pulled off a fine save from Trotta.
But once the numbers shifted, City’s centre halves were able to double up on Clayton Donaldson. With one dropping deeper to cover, the Manningham lad’s chances of notching his usual goal at Valley Parade diminished rapidly.
It was in City’s hands to force the issue and make their man advantage count. They did so as half-time approached.
James Meredith, another having an excellent game, took Kyel Reid’s pass to the byline. His cutback slipped through two pairs of Brentford legs and James Hanson showed quick feet to fire in under the bar.
The same Meredith and Hanson combo threatened a second soon after the restart but the centre forward’s header looped on to the bar.
But the Kop, now in full choral voice, did not have long to wait for the goal that effectively settled matters. And two more swiftly followed in a devastating nine-minute burst.
It began with a defensive blooper on another day to forget for rookie keeper Jack Bonham.
You may remember him from the howler for Watford against Leeds that handed promotion to Hull on the final day of last season’s Championship.
Things did not get any better on his unexpected Brentford debut as the stand-in stopper was stranded by Tony Craig’s back header. That allowed Wells, the newly-crowned League One player of the month for August, to begin September in the same goal-scoring vein.
He won’t get any easier one all season but it was reward for the way he chases down every half chance, even when seemingly hindered by his earlier clattering.
It’s no coincidence that he snaffles up so many goals like that – he’d almost punished Button right at the start when he charged down a clearance.
Two soon became three. Meredith got his second assist of the afternoon thanks to a thumping header from Garry Thompson.
And the fourth arrived from Reid’s corner as Hanson outjumped two markers with a trademark far-post finish.
Brentford managed to raise some late resistance to threaten McLaughlin’s perfect record. Davies sliced against his own post and Donaldson got round the back to clip the same woodwork.
But nothing was going to spoil another memorable result, a further reminder to the rest of League One that City are a force to be reckoned with this season.
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