Doyle cameo the highlight of a forgettable afternoon for Bantams (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford City's defeat by Bury provides ‘a wake-up call’
Bradford City 0 Bury 3
The only excitement on Saturday was reserved for the early birds who caught the first glimpse of Nathan Doyle going through his paces.
The sight of Doyle running with assistant boss Steve Parkin – and the subsequent news that he was coming back – effectively made the rest of the afternoon an irrelevance.
Doyle, as Phil Parkinson gleefully trumpeted, can be an “immense” capture and certainly one capable of filling those gaps where the manager has felt vulnerable. Full back, centre back, midfielder – Parkinson hopes he has got three players in one in the 25-year-old.
Certainly if he can recapture the form that won Bantams hearts on his first stay six years ago, then City have pulled off another impressive bit of summer business.
But anyone guilty of dreaming that the League Two title could have been presented there and then on the newly-laid Valley Parade pitch was instantly delivered a slap in the face by what followed.
Pre-season friendlies this close to the real things are often no more than glorified training matches. It’s silly to read too much into them.
But City were always off the pace against their only league opponents in the build-up to the new campaign.
From the embarrassing moment that Jon McLaughlin skewed Rory McArdle’s backpass into his own net, this was an afternoon that the home side will be keen to gloss over.
Parkinson’s stony expression as he headed for the dressing room at the final whistle showed what he thought.
But, quick to turn a negative into a positive, he suggested the defeat was a timely “wake-up call”. After four games of racking up goals and victories against lower teams, City had been doused by a cold bucket of water.
Parkinson said: “It won’t do any harm in the long run. I felt we looked like a team that had done really well in pre-season and started believing it was too easy. It was a good wake-up call for us.
“Even in pre-season you have to remember to compete all over the pitch and I don’t think we were strong enough.”
Gary Jones took the armband in Ricky Ravenhill’s absence but Parkinson will not confirm his captain until later this week. Andrew Davies, another contender, missed the game again as he recovered from a bug.
The City boss did feel they missed Ravenhill, who will be sidelined until at least November with a knee injury.
Parkinson said: “The best compliment I can pay Ricky is that it wouldn’t have been such a lacklustre performance if he was out there.
“He sets the tone with the way he plays.”
The tone on Saturday was set by the fifth-minute blooper by McLaughlin. Watched by relatives down from Scotland – who waved a “Go Jon” banner from the executive seats – the keeper caught McArdle’s bouncing pass with the side of his foot, slicing the ball slowly into his open net.
It was all the encouragement that Bury’s double-barrelled strikeforce needed.
Lenell John-Lewis and Lateef Elford-Alliyu gave the Bantams back four the sort of rigorous work-out they had lacked in the previous pre-season outings.
John-Lewis doubled Bury’s advantage after 19 minutes with a smart swivel and shot which gave McLaughlin no chance in his bottom corner.
The keeper was then tested by both strikers, pulling off a fine save to deny John-Lewis his second on the stroke of half-time.
With Ritchie Jones resting a minor knock, left back James Meredith moved up to partner Gary Jones but they got little joy from a Bury midfield including the enthusiastic former Bantam Steve Schumacher.
Ross Hannah had made no impression up front and was replaced at the break by Nahki Wells, whose arrival did briefly lift the home side.
He curled a free-kick past the near post before Bury made it 3-0 with the goal of the game, Elford-Alliyu completing a crisp passing move with a first-time clip over McLaughlin.
Midfielder Gavin Hoolahan and German winger Marc Gallego were the latest trialists to get their chance.
Gallego, who bore a passing resemblance to Jonas Guttierez with his pony tail, did at least force a save from the under-employed Trevor Carson in the final minute.
Supporters also finally got to see Garry Thompson in action. He came on for the final 15 minutes and is likely to get an extended run at Park Avenue tomorrow.
But the main focus for City was the figure on his own private pre-match warm-up. Doyle’s unannounced cameo made the rest worthwhile.
CITY: McLaughlin, Darby, McArdle, Oliver (Mills 76), Bass (Hoolahan 46), Atkinson (Gallego 62), G Jones (Brown 62), Meredith, Reid (Thompson 76), Hannah (Wells 46), Hanson (Connell 68). Subs (not used): Baker, Duke.