Who? Bradford City
Where? The People’s Pension Stadium
When? Saturday, September 25, 3:00 pm kick-off
Sky Bet League Two Match Nine
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Redz Bar will be open from 12pm. Hospitality will be open from 12pm.
Match Sponsor: The People’s Pension
Match Ball Sponsor: Start Communications
Bradford City are embarking on their third season in League Two after their relegation from League One in 2019. They finished below Crawley last season but have had a stronger start than the Reds this campaign, currently sitting in 9th place with three wins, three draws and two losses. The Bantams travel South off the back of a 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester United U21s in the EFL Trophy and will be looking to put that loss behind them today. They are managed by Derek Adams who led the Morecambe side that lost 4-0 at the People’s Pension Stadium last season but also earned promotion through the playoffs. Bradford City took just one point off the Reds last season after losing 2-0 at the Utilita Energy Stadium and picking up a 1-1 draw in this fixture last season.
ONES TO WATCH
Richard O’Donnell is an experienced goalkeeper who came through Sheffield Wednesday’s academy, graduating to the first team 15 seasons ago in 2006/07. The journeyman is currently at his 12th club and seems to have found some stability with the Bantams having made 125 appearances for the Yorkshire-based club. He’d previously made 105 appearances for Walsall but hasn’t made more than 35 appearances for any of his other ten clubs with Bristol City (32) in third place. He signed from Northampton Town in July 2018 after a six-month stint at the Cobblers where he made 19 appearances in League One, adding to the 300 he had already made in the Football League.
Position: Centre back
Niall Canavan captains the Bantams, a role he earned last month, just eight months into his stint at the club. A goalscoring centre back, the Irishman joined Bradford from Plymouth Argyle after two and a half years in South Devon, where he made 92 appearances, scoring five times. He began his career with Scunthorpe United – his most prolific club – where he came through the academy and went on to make 173 appearances over his seven-year period and netted 16 times. This seven-year stint was split up by loans to Shrewsbury and Rochdale, the latter of which led to a permanent move for the then 25-year-old. This current season has started off in a mixed fashion for Canavan who has, quite impressively, not committed a single foul in the six games he’s played this season however, his Bradford City defence hasn’t kept a clean sheet since the opening day, suggesting the Reds will get opportunities today.
Andy Cook is probably the most well-known name in the Bradford squad. The veteran number nine has been scoring goals for over a decade in the lower steps of professional English football. He spent the last half of the 2020/21 season on loan at the Bantams from Mansfield Town – scoring eight goals in 16 appearances – and signed permanently in July. He learnt his trade at Carlisle United and was loaned out to Barrow AFC just before his 20th birthday. The Bluebirds eventually bought Cook in January 2011 where he averaged a goal every two games before moving to Grimsby Town. After two years in Lancashire, he moved back to Barrow and then on to Tranmere Rovers. This period at Rovers between 2016 and 2020 was when Cook was at his most prolific, scoring 51 goals and securing 14 assists in just 94 games over two stints with moves to Walsall FC and Mansfield Town in-between. Cook has had a good start to the 2021/22 season having scored four goals already – all from inside the box – and is now closing in on his 150th professional goal.
HEAD TO HEAD
Crawley have faced the Bantams on ten occasions since 2011. With only one draw within these ten battles, the Reds have been victorious on five occasions, and Bradford only four. A game hosted at The People’s Pension Stadium in September 2011 ended in a 3-1 home victory to Crawley in League Two action. A Tyrone Barnett brace either side of a goal for Andy Drury were enough to overturn an early deficit caused by Bradford’s Kyel Reid.
Later that season, Crawley met with the Bantams in Yorkshire in a game that would later be named as the Battle of Bradford to many Crawley supporters. Five players were shown red in an unbelievable brawl which spiralled out of control on the pitch, as Crawley’s Kyle McFadzean and Claude Davis were sent off as well as three Bradford players. Leon Clarke and Gary Alexander struck either side of a Chris dagnall leveller to give Crawley the three points, meaning they recorded the double over Bradford in a terrific debut season in League Two.
Bradford met with Crawley in League One in 2013, and again the Reds’ dominance was displayed with a professional 1-0 victory in Broadfield. Between 2014 and 2019, the sides met on four more occasions, but the dominance quickly swayed when the Bantams picked up four consecutive victories over Crawley, four of these being in Bradford.
But since this spell again things have changed, with John Yems’ leadership Crawley remain unbeaten against the Bantams in three previous meetings. In January 2020, Ollie Palmer’s early brace created too much of a mountain to climb for the away side, who could only salvage one consolation goal as the game finished 2-1.
Then nearly a year later in December, the sides met again, and despite a tally of Crawley chances throughout the game, Yems’ men were unable to find a winner as the game finished 1-1. The away fixture last season was a spectacle, as centre-halves Jordan Tunnicliffe and Joe McNerney both headed in as underdogs Crawley headed back to Sussex with a 0-2 away win and three points to show for their efforts.