DECEMBER 2014: CITY 1 (McArdle 32) SCUNTHORPE 1 (Adelakun 90)

FORMER history maker Rory McArdle is set to face the Bantams for the sixth time since his 2017 move to Scunthorpe this weekend.

McArdle has had a mixed bag of performances against his former club so far.

He really struggled under Stuart McCall just over a year ago at Valley Parade and was subbed at half-time in City’s 2-0 win.

But he delivered a man-of-the-match showing when the teams drew 1-1 at Glanford Park earlier this season to ensure his team held on despite playing so long down to 10 men after Matty Lund was sent off.

Scunthorpe’s approaching visit brings to mind a previous meeting in December 2014 when McArdle was in Bantam colours – and scored a goal that will always stand out.

The centre half scored 15 times during 231 appearances in claret and amber; most followed a familiar pattern with those trademark darts to head in at the near post at corners before the tongue came out in celebration.

But this particular afternoon just before Christmas saw a very different scoring method.

It was a battle between two form teams, who were unbeaten in six going into the game, and played on a pitch that Jordan Pickford described as “sinking sand”.

The future England keeper, on loan from Sunderland at the time, would become the second-half star of the show for Phil Parkinson’s men.

City controlled the early exchanges on a surface that was quickly cutting up and making it more difficult to play - as Sunderland would discover to their cost in the FA Cup two months later.

Jon Stead had the first big chance but steered wide from a cross by skipper Stephen Darby. The striker then tested keeper Sam Slocombe before James Meredith fired over after the ball took a horrific bobble.

But then came the breakthrough from McArdle’s moment of magic.

There was a big shout for handball as Filipe Morais had a shot blocked by Emmerson Boyce. But the ball broke to McArdle who curled a perfect left-foot effort into the top corner from just inside the box.

It was a silky finish and the Iron, who had lost only one of their previous 12 games, looked to hit back as Pickford denied Richard Brindley. It was the first of several big saves from the home stopper.

Scunthorpe upped the ante after the break. Gary McSheffrey blazed over before Pickford blocked superbly from Luke Williams as James Meredith was done by the unpredictable surface.

Pickford again defied the green shirts with a tip-over from McSheffrey’s free-kick and then hung on to a free header from Paddy Madden.

As the Scunthorpe pressure continued, Madden burst away from Darby and unleashed a fierce half-volley. But again Pickford stood firm to push the ball over the bar.

He was finally beaten with the game three minutes into added time.

Scunthorpe sub Hakeeb Adelakun eluded Meredith and drove home an equaliser his side had deserved.

“The lads were trying to dig in to the last minute but it wasn’t a bad strike” admitted Pickford afterwards.

But Parkinson swallowed his disappointment at missing out on a sixth win in seven games to heap lavish praise on McArdle, who was named man of the match.

The City boss said: “His performance was as good as you’ll see from a centre half. It shows what he is all about and that’s supreme athleticism.

“His recovery challenges were absolutely outstanding as well as his goal. It was a brilliant finish and he is certainly chipping in with his fair share from defence."

CITY: Pickford, Darby, McArdle, Davies, Meredith, Morais, Liddle, Knott (Halliday 76min), Yeates, Clarke (Hanson 82min), Stead (Zoko 89min).

SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe, Brindley, Llera, Boyce, M Williams, O'Neil, Bishop, McSheffrey (Adelakun 83min), L Williams, Madden, Osbourne (Taylor 89min).

REFEREE: Phil Gibbs