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Bradford City's rocket man Reid has a blast before claiming: I've scored better
Walsall 0 Bradford City 2
“If a Barcelona player had scored that,” said an admiring captain, “they’d be talking about it for the rest of the year.”
It was a strike worthy of the highest level but not, amazingly, the best on his CV, accoring to Reid.
For that honour, you have to go back to an FA Youth Cup tie for West Ham against Chester-le-Street at Upton Park when a 15-year-old winger scored from the halfway line!
Coming on the same day that Alan Pardew gave him his first contract, that remains a special memory. But his blast at the Bescot must have run a close second.
Collecting the ball just inside City territory, Reid surged forward with devilish intent. James Meredith had overlapped on his left and found himself loads of space to take the expected pass.
Instead Reid chose to take it on himself – and how. The ball rocketed from his left boot like a howitzer propelling a missile.
Bang... in a flash the ball flew 35 yards into the top corner of Richard O’Donnell’s net so violently that the force pinged it straight back out.
Reid said: “Everyone was shouting pass it, pass it because Mezza was in. But there was a gap for me to hit it and the ball just kept rising.
“I was more than happy to get on the scoresheet, especially with our top goal scorer missing.
“Nahki (Wells) has been a massive player for us and we’re gutted that he’s injured. But the gaffer said it’s time for others to step up to the plate.
“It’s a team game and you can’t always rely on one man even though he’s been unbelievable for us.”
What an answer it was to those who questioned whether City could maintain their momentum without the goal power of Wells.
Last week’s comeback against Shrewsbury may have made a point but this was concrete proof that there is so much about this side.
Jose Mourinho snorted at the Premier League table the other day and claimed that some teams at the top were in lofty positions because of a kind early schedule.
Some could have levelled that at City, who had not faced opposition in the top nine since going up. But now they’ve shown their mettle against a club whose form had been almost as impressive.
Walsall had recently claimed the scalp of neighbours Wolves at Molineux and just taken a first point off leaders Leyton Orient. This was a serious examination of any play-off credentials.
And they did it without a certain number 21 on the pitch.
With Yeates happier to float around just off the target man, it meant a shift of emphasis on Hanson’s role once again.
Parkinson had praised the way Hanson had taken the different orders on board last week; he was effusive in the aftermath of the striker’s lung-busting efforts in the West Midlands.
“I don’t think there will have been many centre-forward performances today as good as James Hanson’s. He was tremendous.
“He ran in behind and his hold-up play was out of the top, top drawer. Being without Nahki changed the dynamics of his game but he was intelligent enough to do that.
“His goal was a magnificent finish and all-round he was very, very good.”
Parkinson had every right to wax lyrical about City’s third win on the bounce and second successive away from Valley Parade.
That clear-the-air meeting on the eve of the Gillingham trip a fortnight ago seems to have blown away any doubts about playing on their travels.
The two games were very different – Gillingham all direct and in your face while Walsall was more clever movement and youthful energy. But the unflinching approach and steely attitude of the visitors never changed.
The slow starts of those opening away games have thankfully been consigned to the past. Once again, City began on the front foot and dictating the play.
It helps when the backing from the travelling support is so vocal. The rammed away end made it feel like Valley Parade on tour.
Chances were at a premium for most of a fast and furious first half but Reid signalled his intentions early by drilling into the side-netting.
Jon McLaughlin thwarted a decent effort from Sam Mantom, Walsall’s best player, but City kept them comfortably at bay.
The Saddlers were neat and tidy with the extra body in midfield but all their work was done in front of the back four.
Yeates almost broke the deadlock but was foiled by a sliding block from home skipper Andy Butler. It didn’t matter.
With the interval fast approaching, Reid blew the game apart with his moment of magic and City never looked back.
Still shell-shocked as they emerged for the second half, Walsall found themselves deeper in the mire within two minutes.
Rory McArdle humped a long ball upfield, Yeates touched it into Hanson’s path and the finish at the near post was unerring.
For the second week running, Reid and Hanson had taken on the scoring mantle. Nahki who?
Walsall boss Dean Smith threw the dice and went all in with a triple substitution on the hour. He switched the system, playing the three new arrivals behind lone striker Craig Westcarr, and they did improve.
Sadly for Walsall their gilt-edged chance of launching a recovery fell to a centre half as Paul Downing missed hideously from five yards. To say it was a typical defender’s finish would be a sleight on every other defender ...
Ashley Hemmings, one of the subs, drove narrowly across goal but City did not spook easily. Those scares aside, the back four stayed unruffled to ensure another second half passed off without incident in their goalmouth.
The season is still early but it is hard not to get wrapped up in the euphoria that greeted the final whistle as players and fans celebrated as one. This was another mightily impressive result to add to a growing collection.
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