City 1 Luton 1

There are no half measures in Stuart McCall’s eyes.

You are either Bradford City or you’re not. The middle ground doesn’t exist.

Which is why the boss was blazing at the mindless few who thought it a great idea to slag off Barry Conlon – before he had even gone on the pitch.

Nope, he’d not just missed a sitter or cost his team a goal; Conlon’s great “crime” was coming off the bench as a substitute.

It defies logic. And it’s not as if this is the first time.

The same thing went on last season when Conlon could not buy a goal. The boo boys were looking for a target during City’s autumn slump and the big Irishman provided an easy one.

Conlon got it in the neck again a few weeks back during the Exeter home game. Again his arrival late on was greeted with a smattering of boos – and City were winning at the time.

Conlon won’t publicly admit that it hurts but it must do. McCall, certainly, made his feelings crystal clear.

Big Baz will be the first to admit that he’s not had the best time as a City player. And he struggled last week at Shrewsbury in the thankless task of playing as the solo striker.

But he must be doing something right in the manager’s opinion to keep getting picked in the squad ahead of the likes of Rory Boulding and Willy Topp.

Have those negative few who can’t wait to have a pop got such little faith in McCall’s judgement that they are waiting for the first opportunity to vent their fury?

I wonder what their reaction was barely 60 seconds later when Conlon’s first touch put the ball in the Luton net. Were they still booing then – or was it all forgotten and forgiven and the striker was suddenly the hero?

No doubt some will even claim that the stick they dished out will have inspired the sub to score!

McCall’s reaction to Conlon’s goal was plain for all to see as he jumped up and down like a madman.

At Shrewsbury, he had a sarcastic dig at the post-match winning celebrations and said that he’d not seen the World Cup being handed out. Watching him after Conlon’s goal, you expected to see the Champions’ League, FA Cup, Premier League title all wrapped into one.

McCall was not proud of it and made a beeline for opposite number Mick Harford afterwards to say sorry. The emotion of the moment had just taken over – it was the manager’s way of giving two fingers to the critics.

The dream scenario would have made that the winning goal, especially coming just moments after Paul Heckingbottom was dismissed for a second mistimed tackle.

The left back was always on thin ice after a silly lunge from behind on Claude Gnakpa after 15 minutes and could have no complaints when he paid the price for catching Luton’s lone frontman Chris Martin.

At that stage, a point looked a precious reward as Luton sensed there could be more in it for them.

But then centre half Michael Spillane made a total dog’s dinner of a long clearance from Rhys Evans, mistakenly ushering the ball away from his keeper Conrad Logan and into the path of the newly-arrived Conlon to gleefully flick home.

All’s well that ends well? Not quite. This is October after all, the month when City never win.

And Spillane made amends for his goof with a crunching header from Ed Asafu-Adjaye’s cross to cap a slick counter-attack a couple of minutes from the end.

It was a sickener for City but they could have no real argument on the overall balance of play in a scrappy game ruined by the gusty wind.

The first half had been awful, with little to cheer for a crowd feeling the first effects of winter. The weather played a big factor as miscontrols reigned and passes frequently went astray.

Luton had watched their videos and followed the Exeter and Bournemouth example of flooding the midfield, forcing City to try to play through and round them.

While the wingers again found it hard to get into the game, the ball seemed to be glued to Matt Clarke as Luton let the back four play it out of defence. It didn’t work in such a wind-swept scenario.

After two defeats had knocked the gloss off the season’s fast start, the place felt edgy and Luton had the bulk of the early play. Gnakpa headed over from a corner and Lewis Emanuel lost the ball under his feet in the penalty area and wasted the chance to sting his old club.

Emanuel didn’t have the happiest 25th birthday on his return to his home city. He tweaked his knee in a drop ball and had to be taken off at half-time.

City had created nothing apart from a great piece of skill and cross from Omar Daley which just whizzed past both strikers in the Luton goal-mouth.

But Daley, playing his last game before jetting off today for a World Cup double-header in Jamaican colours, looked in the mood providing City could get him the ball.

In the second half they finally managed to do that.

The crowd were woken up straight away by a Paul McLaren drive that was tipped away and Graeme Lee’s header was scrambled clear from a corner won by Daley’s burst inside and shot.

Daley was providing the momentum that Joe Colbeck had done in the last win over Exeter. He took the ball off Keith Keane to whip in another effort which Logan held under pressure.

Luton looked happy just to survive until Heckingbottom’s departure increased their ambition.

But Conlon’s intervention seemed to put the lid on that and he nearly had two in three minutes, making too good a connection on a second chance and firing it straight at the keeper.

McCall decided discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew Peter Thorne to bolster the back three with Luke O’Brien, ahead of his start at Accrington next week.

It was a stick or twist substitution and either way, once Luton had equalised, McCall had got it wrong in some eyes.

No doubt those later questioning the wisdom of taking off a striker to try to protect what City had got would have been just as critical if he’d stayed with two up front to leave the defence short.

That’s the thing about the so-called experts in the stand. Unlike the rest of us, they are never ever wrong.