Guiseley 2, City 1
Three games; three goalkeepers. Rhys Evans is the latest to lay claim to City’s current vacancy between the sticks.
The 26-year-old was back in a Bantams jersey last night, nine months after last season’s loan from Blackpool was suddenly cut short four games in by a damaged shoulder at Grimsby.
Evans subsequently moved on to Millwall in January and earned a regular run for the Lions. So it came as a surprise when he was not offered another deal.
Having enjoyed his brief spell at Valley Parade, even if the results were mixed, Evans is now in the market for something more permanent. A lot could hinge on how he performs on the Scotland tour.
Evans might have expected a quiet introduction at Nethermoor. He got nothing of the sort. A combination of pumped-up non-league opponents, sluggish defending and woolly officiating saw to that.
Within the first eight minutes, Evans had already superbly beaten out a James Hanson header, only to be left high and dry by a non-existent offside flag which gave Adam Muller a clear run on goal to slot Guiseley in front.
But City had only themselves to blame for the second goal after 20 minutes, leaving Hanson unmarked to power home a header from Mark Whitehouse’s free-kick.
City had the occasional first-half moment of their own without managing to trouble Guiseley stopper Piotr Skiba.
Willy Topp thrashed wide from a lay-off by French trialist striker Abel Thermeless before overhitting his cross when well placed after a neat link with Paul Arnison carved a hole on the right of the box.
The pair combined again after 25 minutes, Topp taking Arnison’s pass with his back to goal and whipping round to rustle the side-netting.
Korey Nix was the only survivor from the Avenue game in a side which saw Paul Heckingbottom, who was wearing the captain’s armband, and Leon Osborne make their pre-season bow.
Milton Turner, who did play on Saturday, came on before half-time to replace the limping Adrian Bellamy.
Guiseley included Lee Crooks and former City youngster Danny Ellis, who did not endear himself to his former club when he bundled over the lanky Thermeless in the area. Not for the first time, referee Richard Madeley gave City nothing – perhaps Judy would have been more receptive.
Osborne promised in flashes, though his best run was halted by a well-timed tackle from Guiseley skipper Dave Merris as he shaped to shoot.
Osborne made way at half-time for Sean Taylforth, who was back on familiar territory after spending a chunk of last season on Guiseley’s left wing on loan.
Taylforth immediately did what the rest had failed to do by forcing a save out of Skiba with a thumping cross-shot. City had come out with a bit more urgency and Topp’s quick thinking was beginning to ask questions of the home defence.
They struck back after 53 minutes with a slightly bizarre response. Thermeless worked an opening for himself 15 yards out, only to scuff his shot, but the ball looped off Anthony Lloyd as he slid in, bounced off the bar with Skiba grounded and Lee Bullock was on hand to tap in from a yard.
City might have been level but referee Madeley won a few more claret and amber fans by ignoring a blatant handball in the Guiseley box.
David Brown, the pint-sized hero at Macclesfield in February, came off the bench for Guiseley and his lightning pace threatened to embarrass City’s replacement keeper Matthew Convey on more than one occasion. For pure audacity, one spectacular volley deserved to fly in rather than a yard over the bar.
David Wetherall and Wayne Jacobs spared Heckingbottom and Arnison the final half hour but there was only one member of the coaching staff the fans were waiting to see.
With 16 minutes left, they got their wish when number 18 – wearing a rather snug jersey – entered the fray for Bullock.
His first two passes found Taylforth, the third picked out Luke Sharry. Stuart McCall, operating in a leisurely wide right, was happy to let the ball do the work – no Brown-style dashes from the gaffer.
There was a blast from the past as Jacobs hit McCall with a crossfield pass which the manager worked forward into the box for Nix but the trialist was crowded out by white shirts.
McCall still had one more trick in his locker, though, as he turned two men inside out to rapturous applause.