James Hanson back to his best to kick off new Bradford City era

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: James Hanson opens the scoring for City in the first minute against Bristol City James Hanson opens the scoring for City in the first minute against Bristol City

City 1, Bristol City 1

The whack on the nose was a medal of honour for James Hanson.

City’s targetman had put his head in where it hurts all afternoon and reminded the Valley Parade faithful that while one half of their vaunted frontline had gone elsewhere, the other was very much still in the thick of it.

With the ground still murmuring about Nahki Wells, Hanson chose the perfect moment to rediscover his best form.

He was not the only one to finish with a bloodied nose – ask Bristol’s three battered and bruised centre halves.

“That’s back to how he can play,” said a delighted Phil Parkinson. “His hold-up play was great and he led the line really well.

“All strikers want to score but you’ve got to remember with Hans that he has contributed to the success of Nahki Wells over the last 18 months or so.

“As I always say, he is a very unselfish player and a great partner to have up there for any striker.

“It was a tough old day for him playing against three centre backs, and another player sat just in front, but he battles his heart out.

“Seven goals, all from open play, is not a bad return playing at this level for the first time.”

In the wake of losing their top scorer to the lot down the road, this threatened to be a “tough old” afternoon for all involved.

These remain testing times, not helped by a lengthy list of niggles and convoluted minor injuries. Two more were added to the list on Saturday.

Ricky Ravenhill twisted ankle ligaments after a barn-storming opening 20 minutes then Kyel Reid pulled up before the end with a tight calf. That cost City some late impetus after the winger had shown plenty of devil in his attacking play.

On the face of it, another draw and another home game without a win solves little. But scratch beneath the surface and there was plenty to be positive about.

This was a much improved performance on recent weeks – the ten-day break since New Year’s Day’s no show at Notts County had done everyone a favour.

As well as Hanson and Reid, others could be pleased with their afternoon’s efforts. Jason Kennedy used Ravenhill’s unexpected early exit as an opportunity to win some of his critics round. He almost scored within five minutes of coming on and played with growing confidence and conviction alongside his old oppo Gary Jones.

The skipper also looked sharper for last week’s breather. If only his second-half screamer had not crashed back into play off the inside of the post, just as everyone – Jones included – was already starting to celebrate.

At the back, Matthew Bates strengthened his claim for a renewed contract with a composed performance against Bristol’s lively frontline.

Carl McHugh, never a natural at left back, overcame some sticky early moments as the visitors targeted his flank to throw himself into the role of James Meredith’s understudy. “He’s got a heart the size of a dustbin,” remarked Parkinson later.

And Oliver McBurnie, given the unenviable task of playing the “Wells role”, gave it so much that he cramped up late on and was literally unable to carry on.

How the script-writers would have loved the fairy-tale ending of seeing the youngster snatch his first senior goal to win the first game after the Wells era.

There were chances in front of the Kop – none more so than the one squared to him ten yards out by Hanson. But the ball seemed to hold up on the surface and McBurnie could only scuff it against the sliding Aden Flint.

No doubt if that had been a Saturday morning for the youth team, the net would have rustled. But that should not take away from a young lad who gave more evidence that he has a bright future ahead.

So City may not have got the finale they wanted but the start had gone like a dream. Before anyone could say the words “Nahki who”, Valley Parade were on their feet to cheer the first goal.

Reid won a corner within 20 seconds and Jones delivered it deep for the head of Hanson. His nod back across goal was blocked back into his path, allowing the big man to stab home his first goal since October 22. A great weight had been lifted in more ways than one.

But Bristol City are undoubtedly League One’s biggest under-achievers this season. For a side who have been stuck in the relegation zone since September, they possess a squad bristling with talent.

None more so than Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who gave City a torrid time at Ashton Gate on the opening day and was in the mood for more on Saturday. The former Arsenal trainee was involved in the build-up to their equaliser later in the first half.

In a move practised on the training ground, he pulled McHugh inside to compete for Derrick Williams’ cross-field ball and won the flick-on. Reid should have picked up Scott Wagstaff’s run in behind but didn’t, allowing the winger plenty of room for a lethal shot that was too hot for Jon McLaughlin.

City rode the blow and continued to push forward with purpose. Under orders to use the space out wide, both wings provided a steady flow of crosses for the towering front two.

Garry Thompson should have scored right on the break after a one-two with Hanson but jabbed wide. 

But then Marvin Elliott was equally guilty within minutes of the restart, putting a free header wide of the same Bradford End goal.

Emmanuel-Thomas thumped the City woodwork with a fizzing drive that swerved away at the final second. Then time seemed to stand still as the ball left the right boot of Jones and pinged against the post with Robins keeper Elliott Parish well beaten.

City could not find a late goal to match the debutant at the John Smith’s Stadium – a goal that will prove a nice little earner for his former employers – but they had at least restored some faith.

By next week’s trip to Sheffield United they should have a new goal-scorer in the ranks, most likely to be Aaron McLean. But whoever it is should make a point of acknowledging the weight being shouldered by the guy alongside him.

Attendance: 13,050

Comments (8)

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7:30am Mon 13 Jan 14

Bull4eva says...

Point gained for Bradford. Two lost for Bristol.
Point gained for Bradford. Two lost for Bristol. Bull4eva

9:25am Mon 13 Jan 14

Plastic Bantam says...

"allowing the winger plenty of room for a lethal shot that was too hot for Jon McLaughlin. "

Hardly say the shot was lethal.. A professional GK should be saving them!!
"allowing the winger plenty of room for a lethal shot that was too hot for Jon McLaughlin. " Hardly say the shot was lethal.. A professional GK should be saving them!! Plastic Bantam

12:06pm Mon 13 Jan 14

spleen ventor says...

I said before the game I'd be happy with a point, I know we could do with a win but we just need to hang in their until all the Wells nonsense dies down, sign a new striker and Davies is back then the wins will start to come.
Patience is they key.
I said before the game I'd be happy with a point, I know we could do with a win but we just need to hang in their until all the Wells nonsense dies down, sign a new striker and Davies is back then the wins will start to come. Patience is they key. spleen ventor

12:34pm Mon 13 Jan 14

SHOESMAKER24 says...

well put spleen ventor sad to see wells go though but good look to the lad to, he was great for city
well put spleen ventor sad to see wells go though but good look to the lad to, he was great for city SHOESMAKER24

1:46pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Olivermac says...

Well done James Hanson a great game to say you were on your own up front poor Olie McBurnie can't fault his effort over the 80 min he played but he ran round the pitch like an headless chicken Parky has just thrown this young lad in at the deep end and it showed not only against Bristol but also against Rotherham, I am sure that he will be a different player in a couple of years but he just is not ready yet so it is important that James gets a decent strike partner, another game that we should have had 3points the effort was there but the goalkeeping error and the post did not help and my thoughts are that Bristol are not in a false position they are a poor 1st div side
Well done James Hanson a great game to say you were on your own up front poor Olie McBurnie can't fault his effort over the 80 min he played but he ran round the pitch like an headless chicken Parky has just thrown this young lad in at the deep end and it showed not only against Bristol but also against Rotherham, I am sure that he will be a different player in a couple of years but he just is not ready yet so it is important that James gets a decent strike partner, another game that we should have had 3points the effort was there but the goalkeeping error and the post did not help and my thoughts are that Bristol are not in a false position they are a poor 1st div side Olivermac

2:27pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Michael Clayton says...

I don't think that it is reasonable to describe McBurnie as a headless chicken. I do agree that he is not quite there yet but his fitness levels will come on and he could not wish for a better role model than James Hanson.

I do wish some of the crowd would lay off Kyel Reid. There were a couple of occasions towards the end when he did not track back. It was obvious that he was either injured and/or knackered. Either way, he had left every last effort out on the pitch.

Before I forget, I also thought that Bristol City were one of the more sporting sides to have visited this season. All in all, it made for a decent afternoon's football.
I don't think that it is reasonable to describe McBurnie as a headless chicken. I do agree that he is not quite there yet but his fitness levels will come on and he could not wish for a better role model than James Hanson. I do wish some of the crowd would lay off Kyel Reid. There were a couple of occasions towards the end when he did not track back. It was obvious that he was either injured and/or knackered. Either way, he had left every last effort out on the pitch. Before I forget, I also thought that Bristol City were one of the more sporting sides to have visited this season. All in all, it made for a decent afternoon's football. Michael Clayton

5:55pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Willie Eckerslyke says...

“Seven goals, all from open play, is not a bad return playing at this level for the first time.”

My understanding of "open play" is a goal NOT scored from a set piece. Doesn't a corner count in Parkie's world?
“Seven goals, all from open play, is not a bad return playing at this level for the first time.” My understanding of "open play" is a goal NOT scored from a set piece. Doesn't a corner count in Parkie's world? Willie Eckerslyke

10:51pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Cityman23 says...

Michael Clayton wrote:
I don't think that it is reasonable to describe McBurnie as a headless chicken. I do agree that he is not quite there yet but his fitness levels will come on and he could not wish for a better role model than James Hanson.

I do wish some of the crowd would lay off Kyel Reid. There were a couple of occasions towards the end when he did not track back. It was obvious that he was either injured and/or knackered. Either way, he had left every last effort out on the pitch.

Before I forget, I also thought that Bristol City were one of the more sporting sides to have visited this season. All in all, it made for a decent afternoon's football.
A lot of excellent points! During my time watching City (over thirty years) there has always seemed to be a scapegoat player at whom some in the crowd like to vent their wrath! At present that man seems to be Kyle Reid. The winger may make unfortunate choices from time to time, (eg dribbling an extra man instead of passing/crossing/sho
oting) but he IS a menace to opposition full backs/central defenders and forces them to be 'on their toes.' (this makes space for others)

I thought the game on Saturday was one of the 'cleanest' I've seen at 'VP' for a long time with few deliberate fouls from BOTH sides.

James Hanson was immense, winning the ball in the air, flicking it on purposefully and making 'things happen.' How glad we should be that he isn't minded to follow 'NW' out of the door. Oliver Mc. made a pest of himself, constantly harassing defenders until he 'ran out of juice' and hardly had enough strength left to summon up a shot (visible to all-why wasn't he subbed sooner Mr P.? Why wasn't Clarkson given a run out?)
[quote][p][bold]Michael Clayton[/bold] wrote: I don't think that it is reasonable to describe McBurnie as a headless chicken. I do agree that he is not quite there yet but his fitness levels will come on and he could not wish for a better role model than James Hanson. I do wish some of the crowd would lay off Kyel Reid. There were a couple of occasions towards the end when he did not track back. It was obvious that he was either injured and/or knackered. Either way, he had left every last effort out on the pitch. Before I forget, I also thought that Bristol City were one of the more sporting sides to have visited this season. All in all, it made for a decent afternoon's football.[/p][/quote]A lot of excellent points! During my time watching City (over thirty years) there has always seemed to be a scapegoat player at whom some in the crowd like to vent their wrath! At present that man seems to be Kyle Reid. The winger may make unfortunate choices from time to time, (eg dribbling an extra man instead of passing/crossing/sho oting) but he IS a menace to opposition full backs/central defenders and forces them to be 'on their toes.' (this makes space for others) I thought the game on Saturday was one of the 'cleanest' I've seen at 'VP' for a long time with few deliberate fouls from BOTH sides. James Hanson was immense, winning the ball in the air, flicking it on purposefully and making 'things happen.' How glad we should be that he isn't minded to follow 'NW' out of the door. Oliver Mc. made a pest of himself, constantly harassing defenders until he 'ran out of juice' and hardly had enough strength left to summon up a shot (visible to all-why wasn't he subbed sooner Mr P.? Why wasn't Clarkson given a run out?) Cityman23

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