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Youthful Bantams gain a draw
Bradford City Reserves 1, Gateshead Reserves 1
A youthful-looking City reserves shared the spoils with Gateshead at the Coral Windows Stadium this afternoon in the club's latest Central League fixture.
Substitute Oliver McBurnie secured the point for the Bantams City after Gateshead defender Chris Bush had fired the visitors into the lead eight minutes earlier with a well-taken free-kick.
Jon McLaughlin and Steve Williams, who continues on his road to recovery from a ruptured Achilles injury suffered last summer, were the only professionals on show in an inexperienced home line-up.
The kick-off was delayed for over an hour past the scheduled 2pm start due to the late arrival of Gateshead's team coach.
The first period at a chilly Valley Parade featured two sides full of endeavour and industrious play, but clear-cut chances were proving hard to come by.
McLaughlin was called upon to keep out a tame low effort from Gateshead's Yoan Pivaty, while Nathan Curtis saw a teasing cross crash into the side-netting by visiting keeper Jordan Nixon's near post.
Curtis did find himself on the end of a better opening later in the half when he was picked out with space to work with inside Gateshead's area but the forward's strike for goal was blocked by left back Michael Roberts.
With time running out in the first period, Nixon then had to sprint to the edge of his area to just beat Louie Swain to a forward pass from Tom Bott after the Bantams forward had beaten the offside trap.
Gateshead enjoyed their own sight of goal just before the break when Christophe Esnard teed up the waiting Ryan McGorrigan but his strike from the edge of the area was sliced high and wide of McLaughlin's goal.
Esnard then went for goal himself in Gateshead's last meaningful attack of the half but his low, driven effort from outside the area was comfortable enough for McLaughlin.
The Bantams' first real opening after the restart came when Curtis played Swain into space behind Gateshead's defence, despite the best efforts of visiting centre half Bush.
Turning onto his favoured left foot, Swain fired for goal with an angled drive from inside the area - only to see his effort fizz narrowly past Nixon's far post.
Gateshead responded to that near miss by breaking the deadlock with a fine free-kick from Bush just before the hour.
The powerful defender showed great skill to curl his 25-yard free-kick over the City wall and past the dive of McLaughlin to find the corner of the keeper's goal.
Bush tried his luck again when Gateshead were awarded another free-kick slightly further out minutes later but his effort was comfortably dealt with by McLaughlin.
At the other end, City should really have equalised when a combination of good work from Swain and Curtis resulted in the latter enjoying a clear run on goal.
Swain initially engineered the opening when he charged down an attempted clearance from Nixon, with the ball then running free just outside a sparsely-populated Gateshead area.
Bush tried to rescue the situation for his side but Curtis showed commendable strength to brush the defender off the ball before racing for goal.
Curtis looked to round Nixon but, with the keeper standing tall and space running out for the striker, he could only lay the ball across goal, where Gateshead substitute Rob Ramshaw was on hand to kick clear.
The Bantams did level just a minute or so later, however, when City replacement McBurnie powered home a header into the bottom corner following Connor Erangey's cross.
With both sides now on the hunt for further goals, Curtis went close for City when he turned into space just outside Gateshead's penalty box before rolling a low effort narrowly wide of Nixon's goal.
Going into the final ten minutes, Esnard twice saw efforts from inside the area crucially blocked by City defenders in quick succession - by Williams and Erangey.
Deep into injury time, McBurnie did have the ball in the net for City but the effort was ruled out for an earlier aerial challenge on Nixon by Williams following Calum Hepworth's late free-kick into the area.
Bradford City: McLaughlin, Hiza, Erangey, Williams, Arundel (Boote 46), Bott, Hepworth, Stockdill, Curtis, Swain, Bower (McBurnie 62). Substitutes: Morrison, McBurnie, Boote.
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