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Points dry up as Bradford City swim against the tide
Carlisle 1, City 0
They know all about floods in these parts. What regions of the south are going through now, the hardy Cumbrians had to endure this time nine years ago.
Snow rather than rain was the only weather on the Brunton Park agenda last night but thankfully the first-half blizzard forecast by the locals failed to materialise.
But it was still perishing – and City will be feeling the cold draught of the wrong end of the table after this costly defeat to a team beneath them.
It’s a drought, not a deluge that is concerning West Yorkshire. The flood of points from the opening couple of months of League One life has reduced to a trickle.
Like the water levels in certain areas of the country, the numbers keep on rising; one win in 21 games and none from the last 13.
Successive matches against Crewe and Carlisle which had been realistically viewed as a route towards the relative comfort of the top half have yielded a single point.
This was a poor defeat from a poor game.
City’s other change from Saturday saw Garry Thompson return to the starting line-up in his native Cumbria in place of Kyle Bennett. Nathan Doyle, back from suspension, replaced Raffaele De Vita on the bench.
Parkinson had called for his side to start in the same positive vein as they finished in the rousing second half against Crewe. Instead, he looked on in familiar frustration as City once again conceded the opening blow after 14 minutes.
The overhead finish from Lee Miller was emphatic but there was a huge self-inflicted element for the visitors, who should have dealt with James Berrett’s corner.
They had opportunities to clear their lines but James Hanson and McArdle went for the same header and the ball kept bobbling around the danger zone before Miller launched himself to thrash past Jon McLaughlin.
Chances were at a premium but McLaughlin had to be alert to dive to his left and keep out a goal-bound Matty Robson cross which had beaten everybody.
Carlisle were playing with the confidence of a side a goal to the good. After six defeats in their last seven games, it was a rare luxury. For City, it was yet another case of having to chase the game.
Adam Reach, a player who had also interested Carlisle before opting for West Yorkshire, raised hopes when he swapped the left wing for the right. Driving into the corner of the box, he fired in an angled shot which Jordan Pickford fisted away.
But City were trying to rush things by getting the ball back to front too quickly. Passes tended to be loose and overhit, with not enough care in possession.
That anxiety almost increased as half-time approached when Danny Redmond held off Stephen Darby to meet a cross from Brad Potts with a looping header just over the bar.
City had won their fair share of corners but the only other effort of note was a bobbled volley from Gary Jones. No repeat of his Crewe crackers here.
It had been another generally listless first-half display against a side whose own morale would have been brittle given their lack of form.
Doyle came on for Matty Dolan for the second half but City could have found themselves two down within minutes.
After McArdle had stretched to cut out Robson’s low cross, Carlisle launched another raid from a City corner.
Darby’s miskick when the ball was cleared out of the home box allowed David Amoo to seize possession on the halfway line.
Slipping past McArdle, the speedy winger bore down on the City goal with amber shirts trailing in his wake. Amoo eased round McLaughlin as the open goal beckoned but Thompson did enough to force him too wide for the tap-in.
It was a warning for the Bantams and Miller tested them again with a flick header that was safely held by McLaughlin.
Reach looked City’s most effective outlet and he created space for Jones to have another pop from distance. But his well-struck shot cannoned off team-mate Aaron Mclean and out of harm’s way.
Neither of the front two had really threatened the hosts and Hanson had struggled to win a header. His poor night was highlighted when he missed a great chance to equalise midway through the half.
Thompson had already whipped in one inviting cross that cleared the Carlisle goal-mouth unrewarded. Then the right winger clipped another ball in which seemed to have an equaliser written all over it for Hanson.
But the big man blew the chance of his tenth goal of the season as it brushed his head with the net beckoning.
City were having a go at least and it was Carlisle’s turn to become edgy. Jones forced a save from 25 yards and Mclean cut in from the left before firing well over the far angle.
Thompson, who had been more involved since the break, made way for Bennett with 15 minutes to go. Back-to-back corners promised something but the home defence held firm.
Hanson’s poor night also came to a premature end as Parkinson threw on Andy Gray but Carlisle, defending deeper and deeper, saw the job through. Mclean squirted a shot wide in stoppage time – it summed up City’s inability to find a clean shot on target.
It was not pretty on the hosts’ part but the points were priceless. You could see what that winning feeling meant to them and their frozen fans when the final whistle sounded.
The 472-strong travelling support following City to this footballing outpost must be wondering when they will experience the same.