Bradford City 4

Derby County 4

On an afternoon when fans were asked to fly the flag for Bradford City, Paul Jewell's men showed they are not ready to wave the white flag of surrender just yet in the Premiership.

The Bantams went into the game with Derby knowing that a victory was vital if they were to kick-start their bid to stay in the Premiership.

However despite a wonderful hat-trick from Dean Windass and a coolly converted penalty from Peter Beagrie, City had to settle for a point in a thrilling game.

Unfortunately the failure to hold on to a lead in such a crucial encounter may well prove to be the deciding factor in City being relegated.

But what this thrilling clash does show is that this brave City side will not go down without a fight.

Jewell had taken the bold move of switching defensive linchpin David Wetherall from the back four to play him up front alongside Robbie Blake.

It was a huge risk because the former Leeds man has been an in inspirational form at the back all season for City.

And with the defence all at sea inside the first 20 seconds to hand Rory Delap a simple tap-in, the switch in tactics looked like being the worst decision since General Custer thought he could pull through at Little Big Horn.

Seven minutes later, Derby had doubled their lead through Branko Strupar and City looked like being on the end of a similar massacre to the one which did for Custer and his men against the Sioux Indians in the American Civil War.

There was just no stopping the marauding visitors who looked like scoring every time they crossed the halfway line.

However City dug deep and Jewell's tactics started to pay off when Wetherall's knock-down was latched on to by Windass after just 11 minutes and he superbly beat Rams' keeper Mart Poom.

Buoyed by that, City's appetite for the battle had returned and they drew level through Windass's fantastic 25 yard shot which flew like an arrow towards its target.

City were playing a much more direct game to try and take advantage of Wetherall's aerial threat and Derby had trouble containing the home side.

The Bantams have badly lacked a target man since Lee Mills last appeared in the starting line-up and it certainly gave City's attack a huge boost and Jewell was pleased to see his side score four goals after their recent lean period.

He said: "David (Wetherall) adds another dimension to our attack and proved to be a real handful. We had worked all week in training on Dean Windass getting on the end of his flick-ons and I felt it worked well.

"I felt that going forward we played well and had some good movement off the ball."

City were on a roll once Windass had brought them level and after 25 minutes they had completed an amazing comeback to go ahead.

The much-used free-kick routine of a chipped pass from Stuart McCall over the defensive wall caught Derby unawares and Robbie Blake duly chipped the ball over Mart Poom.

Unbelievably, the referee ruled that Blake had been impeded and disallowed the goal to award a penalty.

It was the first of several strange decisions by Alan Wilkie who, surely, would have been much more sensible to allow the advantage and then deal with Delap's foul on Blake. The Derby man was duly sent off.

Thankfully for City, Peter Beagrie coolly stepped up and drilled the ball into the net for his fifth league goal of the season.

The atmosphere inside Valley Parade was electric at this stage although it has to be said that City's defending hardly inspired confidence.

Wetherall's switch to the forward-line had undoubtedly boosted the Bantams' attack but it also badly dented their effectiveness at the back.

The Bantams had made far too many reckless challenges in the opening stages and this again proved to be their undoing in the 35th minute.

Malcolm Christie, Derby's most dangerous player, burst into the box and as he shaped to shoot Westwood's two-footed lunge saw him crash to the floor and the referee awarded a penalty - the only one of the four he gave which I felt was the right decision.

Craig Burley stepped forward to slam the ball past Clarke and bring the scores level.

The capacity crowd had hardly drawn breath and must have been wondering just what would happen next.

They did not have long to wait though as another late run into the box by Windass allowed him to sneak ahead of his marker and drill his third goal of the afternoon past Poom.

The goal capped an amazing 45 minutes but the drama was not over because within six minutes of the restart, Derby were level through Burley's second penalty of the afternoon.

Wilkie adjudged that Westwood had handled the ball when replays clearly showed he merely headed it to safety.

City had given everything and this was a very cruel blow although it could have got a lot worse when Derby were amazingly awarded their third penalty ten minutes from time.

Thankfully for the Bantams, Burley was this time denied by Clarke's fine save because defeat would have been very hard to stomach.

City knew they had to score and four minutes into stoppage time, a fine ball from Windass put Dean Saunders through on goal.

However as Valley parade held its breath, the Welsh striker hit a first time shot which Poom brilliantly blocked and City had to settle for a point from a thrilling encounter.


Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.