UCD 3 Bradford City 2

LEWIS Clarkson continued his one-man campaign to force his way into the City picture with another double in Dublin.

With four goals in four days, the youngster is fast making up for lost time with an explosive start to pre-season.

Clarkson proved his poaching skills at Guiseley were no one-off as he twice equalised against an enthusiastic UCD side.

Once again there was no Aaron Mclean or Oliver McBurnie, although the youngster should be okay to face Shelbourne on Saturday. So Clarkson once again grabbed his chance to steal the limelight.

But while he took another sizeable step into Phil Parkinson’s thinking, the same could not be said for Angelo Balanta.

The Colombian trialist, who started on the left side of City’s tweaked 4-2-3-1 line-up, horribly blew a one-on-one early on and did little else to impress. On this evidence, he will do well to get offered anything.

Parkinson kept with tradition and upped the playing time for game two, holding off the raft of substitutions until just after the hour.

The only interval change had seen first-half skipper Rory McArdle make way for Matt Taylor and the central defender’s first outing since December.

Most of the big-hitters came on from the bench and the starting side found it tough going against lively hosts in the middle of their season.

The plan was for Balanta and Raffaele De Vita to drift in from wide and back up Clarkson and Mark Yeates. But there was none of Saturday’s edge to their attacking play.

UCD struck the first blow after 20 minutes when Gary Burke’s free-kick was flicked on by Robbie Creevy and the back header looped over Jon McLaughlin into the far corner.

Balanta’s bad miss soon followed and then De Vita blazed high and wide before that man Clarkson levelled just ahead of the break with a sharp finish from a set-up by Yeates.

The Irishman’s cross eluded the head of Balanta but the little striker was alert to it at the far post to convert past Niall Corbet.

But instead of shaking up City, the goal just served to gee up UCD. McLaughlin, clad in day-glo orange, saved superbly from Timmy Molloy but was promptly betrayed by sloppiness from his defence.

Yeates put his own man Alan Sheehan under pressure by the City box, his pass for Niall Heaton went awry and Conor Cannon neatly stepped around McLaughlin before restoring the home side’s lead.

UCD threatened a third as Robbie Benson’s chip bounced on the bar but Clarkson was not to be denied and, after collecting a well-judged pass from De Vita, drilled a second equaliser through keeper Niall Corbet’s legs.

The Students continued to pose a threat even after the mass City change – the “substitution from Hell” as the luckless announcer described it.

Youngster Sam Wright was the only Bantam to go the distance and acquitted himself keenly in the middle. But unfortunately he was involved in the mix-up which led to UCD’s 78th-minute winner.

A misplaced pass by the youth-team midfielder to Andrew Davies allowed Toyeed Mustapha to burst away and score.

City tried to peg them back for a third time but James Hanson headed across goal from Stephen Darby’s cross.

UCD, who drew with Peterborough and MK Dons in last pre-season, had their scalp.

Boss Aaron Callaghan could also enjoy the bragging rights over City assistant Steve Parkin, his former team-mate at Stoke.

James Meredith was the third member of the travelling party not to feature after hurting his foot in training on Monday. Given that it was in the same area that he fractured in January, nobody was taking any chances.

Parkinson said: “UCD were energetic and it certainly wasn’t a typical pre-season game.

“Physically it was a good test for us on a very big pitch but we conceded three poor goals.”

CITY: McLaughlin (Barker 63), Arnold (Darby 63), McArdle (Taylor 46), Sheehan (Davies 63), Heaton (King 76), Kennedy (Dolan 63), Wright, De Vita (Liddle 63), Yeates (Knott 63), Balanta (Clarke 63), Clarkson (Hanson 63).