Stadium erupts into Valley of cheers as Carl McHugh's stoppage-time header gives Bantams first home win since September 28

Stadium erupts into Valley of cheers as McHugh's stoppage-time header gives Bantams first home win since September

Carl McHugh rises at the far post to head home Gary Jones’s corner

Celebration time for match-winner McHugh

James Hanson has an effort saved by Port Vale keeper Chris Neale

Aaron Mclean unleashes a shot

First published in Sport Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford City Reporter

Bradford City 1 Port Vale 0

It’s been a long, long wait – for City and for goal hero Carl McHugh.

The Bantams had waited 14 games for that victory and nearly five months for one at Valley Parade.

For McHugh, it had been 13 months since he last hit the net. But the young Irishman doesn’t do small goals. His last one was that never-to-be-forgotten header past childhood idol Shay Given against Aston Villa.

Last night’s first of the season wasn’t far behind that in terms of significance.

Eighty seven days on from beating MK Dons 3-2, City have finally added to the wins column. For the first time all season, they won a game after being level at half-time.

And Phil Parkinson, his players, the board, the fans and everyone within the vicinity of Valley Parade can take a deep breath.

The feelings at the final whistle after McHugh’s stoppage-time winner were as much relief as joy.

McHugh wouldn’t have even played if it wasn’t for Matthew Bates being ruled out with a hip problem. That meant a return to the left-back role where he had struggled last time at Sheffield United a month ago.

Nathan Doyle took over from Matty Dolan in central midfield after replacing him at half-time in the Carlisle defeat.

And Kyle Bennett got the nod over Garry Thompson on the right wing, with the brief to take on Vale at every opportunity.

There were no defenders on the City bench, which included Mark Yeates for the first time since Bramall Lane.

While City’s recent home woes were well chronicled, Valley Parade had been a happy hunting ground for Vale, who were unbeaten in their previous five league visits.

Last season’s win had been a smash-and-grab in a game that City dominated and the home side started this one on the front foot. James Hanson almost nipped in ahead of keeper Chris Neal and Bennett and Adam Reach had efforts charged down within the opening two minutes.

Reach then clipped an inviting long ball for Hanson to chase and he fired first time across goal from the corner of the box.

But City survived a huge scare in the tenth minute when McLaughlin shanked his clearance. Suddenly he was marooned out of goal as Chris Lines claimed the ball 35 yards out towards the touchline.

The midfielder took aim at the unguarded net but Rory McArdle saved his keeper’s bacon by heading off the line.

Reach restored home confidence with one of those driving runs that is fast becoming his trademark. He forced the first corner and from it, City were so close to an opener.

McHugh flicked Jones’s low kick across goal, where Hanson was blocked by Neal at the far post. The rebound came out to Reach, who had two stabs at it, the second a curler that the keeper tipped over the bar.

As City looked to build up a head of steam, they were almost caught cold on the break by Ben Williamson. But McArdle made another big defensive play, tracking back 50 yards with him to make the block.

Vale skipper Doug Loft took advantage of a poor back header from Doyle and nipped the bouncing ball away from McHugh to burst into the box but McLaughlin made amends for his earlier lapse to make a strong block.

But Loft blotted his own copybook with a cynical body-check on Reach to follow Anthony Griffith into the book. Once again, the on-loan winger was really looking the part on City’s left flank as the Kop modified the Kyle Reid song in tribute.

Gary Jones was also throwing himself forward and swapped passes with Andrew Davies before firing past the post from 20 yards. As half-time approached, City continued to press and McHugh nodded wide from a Jones free-kick.

It had been a hugely encouraging half from the home side and the crowd appreciated their efforts. But – with shades of last season – the scoreline remained goalless.

Mclean made an immediate nuisance of himself from the resumption, his overhead kick from close range causing panic in the Vale ranks as Loft almost cleared into his own net.

City had restarted in the same vein and Griffith was lucky not to see red when he caught Bennett after the winger had crossed the ball. Davies headed over from the free-kick and Reach drove across goal as the charge continued.

The one-way traffic was briefly interrupted as McLaughlin beat out a snap-shot from Loft but it was a rare excursion up the other end.

Vale were generally content to shut down City at every turn and Mclean seemed a regular victim for some strong-arm treatment. Not that referee Mark Brown seemed over-concerned with their approach.

Garry Thompson replaced Bennett with just under 20 minutes left but all eyes were once again on the other wing as another Reach raid ended with an unanswered shout for hand ball against Adam Yates.

Hanson’s cross to the near post was taken off Reach’s toe by the diving Neal before the Middlesbrough man struck the Vale woodwork, meeting Stephen Darby’s centre with a half-volley against the foot of the post.

Try as they might, it just wouldn’t go in and Vale fired another warning from a sporadic counter-attack through substitute Jordan Hugill.

For all the incessant City pressure, the away team had the bulk of the shots on target – a fact backed up when Jones drove into the Kop.

They huffed and puffed but the elusive breakthrough just would not materialise – until stoppage time.

Then Jones swung over corner number eight and McHugh rose above the pack to steer the ball back in the direction it came from into the top corner.

It felt like a cup winner; it probably meant more in the grand scheme of things.

City can now relax and look forward to the next two home games with renewed vigour.

Comments (15)

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7:40am Wed 19 Feb 14

gordon ramsay says...

I thought we were quality last night from first minute to last.

Defence solid. The midfield well balanced with the 2 holders giving Reach and Bennett opportunity to go forward. I did think our lack of goal threat was going to cost us a much deserved 3 points and I do worry about how we can get the best out of McLean. I thought even Tommo was great when he came on too, fair play.

Great platform for next 2 Saturdays. Let's not get too carried away but we were great last night.
I thought we were quality last night from first minute to last. Defence solid. The midfield well balanced with the 2 holders giving Reach and Bennett opportunity to go forward. I did think our lack of goal threat was going to cost us a much deserved 3 points and I do worry about how we can get the best out of McLean. I thought even Tommo was great when he came on too, fair play. Great platform for next 2 Saturdays. Let's not get too carried away but we were great last night. gordon ramsay
  • Score: 19

7:47am Wed 19 Feb 14

shaun from richmond says...

PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!.
Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!.
Now get your feet up GARY!.........
PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!. Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!. Now get your feet up GARY!......... shaun from richmond
  • Score: 15

8:34am Wed 19 Feb 14

hx3bantam says...

Good to see negative sides like Vale, whose only intention is to preserve a point, go home empty-handed. I can see why their away following is so poor too.
Good to see negative sides like Vale, whose only intention is to preserve a point, go home empty-handed. I can see why their away following is so poor too. hx3bantam
  • Score: 18

8:52am Wed 19 Feb 14

whisky1 says...

Great that the crowd stayed with the team (despite the pre match negativity from some) to the last and a fitting climax. Jonah just gets better. Good plaudits for the fans in the Stoke Sentinel. Check it out.
Great that the crowd stayed with the team (despite the pre match negativity from some) to the last and a fitting climax. Jonah just gets better. Good plaudits for the fans in the Stoke Sentinel. Check it out. whisky1
  • Score: 11

8:56am Wed 19 Feb 14

bigang02 says...

i thought thompson changed game when he came on .fantastic.
i thought thompson changed game when he came on .fantastic. bigang02
  • Score: 5

9:05am Wed 19 Feb 14

theoutsider says...

I agree a much deserved win. Boy did the team work hard up and down; right and left always driving forward led by boundless energy of Gary Jones. For me we seemed to find a balance in the team last night. McHugh had a great game capped off by his last ditch winner. McLean was always in the thick of things; the Vale defenders were dragging him all over but he gave as good as. I like Bennett who has the bit of flair we have lost (Wells and Reid). But the MOM for me was Reach. I don't want to over egg it but he is quality he tore the Right Back to shreds all night; a few over hit crosses but a stand out show. Hopefully we can extend his stay. MK on Saturday and we got to carry the momentum of last night into the game and 3 more points.
I agree a much deserved win. Boy did the team work hard up and down; right and left always driving forward led by boundless energy of Gary Jones. For me we seemed to find a balance in the team last night. McHugh had a great game capped off by his last ditch winner. McLean was always in the thick of things; the Vale defenders were dragging him all over but he gave as good as. I like Bennett who has the bit of flair we have lost (Wells and Reid). But the MOM for me was Reach. I don't want to over egg it but he is quality he tore the Right Back to shreds all night; a few over hit crosses but a stand out show. Hopefully we can extend his stay. MK on Saturday and we got to carry the momentum of last night into the game and 3 more points. theoutsider
  • Score: 7

9:39am Wed 19 Feb 14

midlandroad says...

reach was quality. he has the penetration of kyel reid but with the ability to almost always do the correct thing with the ball when he's beaten the man. class act.
reach was quality. he has the penetration of kyel reid but with the ability to almost always do the correct thing with the ball when he's beaten the man. class act. midlandroad
  • Score: 6

10:34am Wed 19 Feb 14

Peter300 says...

shaun from richmond wrote:
PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!.
Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!.
Now get your feet up GARY!.........
You said Gary Jones was rubbish earlier in the season shaun. Remember? Thanks for the donations etc. etc.
[quote][p][bold]shaun from richmond[/bold] wrote: PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!. Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!. Now get your feet up GARY!.........[/p][/quote]You said Gary Jones was rubbish earlier in the season shaun. Remember? Thanks for the donations etc. etc. Peter300
  • Score: -10

10:37am Wed 19 Feb 14

bcfc mad85 says...

Total domination a good 3 points play like that for the rest of the season 6th spot is possible the right mixture of short and long ball passing pp we could really do with keeping reach to class player lawn put your hand in your pocket plzzzzz
Total domination a good 3 points play like that for the rest of the season 6th spot is possible the right mixture of short and long ball passing pp we could really do with keeping reach to class player lawn put your hand in your pocket plzzzzz bcfc mad85
  • Score: 2

10:50am Wed 19 Feb 14

lawsonio123 says...

Happy for Mr Parkinson this win must relieve some weight off him it was a fine effort all round In regard to Reach could not some effort be made to sign him if a fee could be agreed it would be a shame to lose him
Happy for Mr Parkinson this win must relieve some weight off him it was a fine effort all round In regard to Reach could not some effort be made to sign him if a fee could be agreed it would be a shame to lose him lawsonio123
  • Score: 7

11:08am Wed 19 Feb 14

lawsonio123 says...

shaun from richmond wrote:
PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!.
Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!.
Now get your feet up GARY!.........
Keep thinking he is getting on a bit but you are right he is like Peter Pan
[quote][p][bold]shaun from richmond[/bold] wrote: PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!. Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!. Now get your feet up GARY!.........[/p][/quote]Keep thinking he is getting on a bit but you are right he is like Peter Pan lawsonio123
  • Score: 1

12:39pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Prisoner Cell Block A says...

"But City survived a huge scare in the tenth minute when McLaughlin shanked his clearance. Suddenly he was marooned out of goal as Chris Lines claimed the ball 35 yards out towards the touchline. "

This should read, Doyle's woeful head back into a dangerous area followed by McHugh's inability to run faster than a 1 legged duck forced JM to race to their rescue and in an attempt to continue the high tempo his clearance fell to a Port Vale player.
"But City survived a huge scare in the tenth minute when McLaughlin shanked his clearance. Suddenly he was marooned out of goal as Chris Lines claimed the ball 35 yards out towards the touchline. " This should read, Doyle's woeful head back into a dangerous area followed by McHugh's inability to run faster than a 1 legged duck forced JM to race to their rescue and in an attempt to continue the high tempo his clearance fell to a Port Vale player. Prisoner Cell Block A
  • Score: 0

12:46pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Prisoner Cell Block A says...

McArdle was the pick of the back four last night, Jones and Reach looked invincible in midfield and McLean had his best game in a City shirt, something will fall for him soon.

.
McArdle was the pick of the back four last night, Jones and Reach looked invincible in midfield and McLean had his best game in a City shirt, something will fall for him soon. . Prisoner Cell Block A
  • Score: 4

2:39pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Olivermac says...

shaun from richmond wrote:
PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!.
Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!.
Now get your feet up GARY!.........
Yes I totally. Agree Gary Jones what a player he might as well collect his trophy now but not sure about the easy bit Darby as played great this season.
[quote][p][bold]shaun from richmond[/bold] wrote: PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!. Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!. Now get your feet up GARY!.........[/p][/quote]Yes I totally. Agree Gary Jones what a player he might as well collect his trophy now but not sure about the easy bit Darby as played great this season. Olivermac
  • Score: 1

3:03pm Wed 19 Feb 14

shaun from richmond says...

Peter300 wrote:
shaun from richmond wrote:
PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!.
Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!.
Now get your feet up GARY!.........
You said Gary Jones was rubbish earlier in the season shaun. Remember? Thanks for the donations etc. etc.
Now we all know you are a "LIAR"!!...Don't we PETER!!
[quote][p][bold]Peter300[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]shaun from richmond[/bold] wrote: PHEW!!...My word we deserved that!!. Can I just give special mention "AGAIN" to Gary Jones!....the man is asked to do everything in Midfield game after game!...Talk about a "Flogged Horse"!......EASILY THE PLAYER OF THE SEASON!. Now get your feet up GARY!.........[/p][/quote]You said Gary Jones was rubbish earlier in the season shaun. Remember? Thanks for the donations etc. etc.[/p][/quote]Now we all know you are a "LIAR"!!...Don't we PETER!! shaun from richmond
  • Score: 1

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